Having worked in a box for nearly two years, I have seen many individuals come in, sign up for membership and have taken them on their journey through foundation and the daunting experience of joining in on classes. When taking a taster session you can screen people's movements by doing the most simple of warm ups. Rowing, air squats and some bear crawl walk outs. Right there, the tight hips, hunched backs, tight ankles and weak joints/muscles are shown. I know as a coach I get excited when someone comes in for a taster and they automatically move just how I would like them to. But I also love to see people who come in, can't co-ordinate a lunge for toffee and then 6 weeks later I see them in a class hitting a run, Wallball and Kettlebell WOD like they've been doing it for months. Watching individuals overcome obstacles and improve their fitness is an awesome feeling and it is one of the reasons I love my job.
However, we sell CrossFit as though it is for every individual and anyone can rock up and do it. Is this true?
Whilst the foundation course teaches people to squat, to press over head, to power clean and to power snatch, it is all being done in the course of a week and in three sessions. Can your average Joe who has never lifted a weight before be trusted to move safely in 2 weeks when power snatch and toes to bar comes up in a class?
What about when a box programmes Elizabeth (21-15-9 squat cleans and ring dips) as the WOD?
What are we, as coaches, doing to help sell CrossFit as "fit for all"? Is there a progression out there for everyone?
I am a firm believer that is up to the coaches to assist members to move safely and efficiently. If an individual can't do a deadlift from the floor, what is stopping a coach to raise that bar on plates so they are lifting it from hang? Or to use KB instead of a barbell?
Can't do a ring dip? Let's do some push ups.
Can't do pull ups? Ditch swinging with a band and just do some ring or bar rows.
There are lots of ways to ensure people get a good workout without getting them injured or have them swinging on apparatus.
I used to be against Crossfit and what it has to offer. The names of the exercises, kipping, WODs (what the hell is that?), seeing some bad form videos online. It can all be very easy to hate upon and dislike.
But in actual fact, CrossFit is nothing that new.
Yes, it has some heavy exercises to move at high intensity but come on, we all have the common sense to say and know, "hey, that weight is too heavy for me to move for 2 reps, let alone 10. I'm going to scale the weight to what I can do for 10".
If you don't know what the ideal weight for you to use is, grab a coach. Have them look at your movements and let them help you decide. My problem with CrossFit is not the individuals/members. I'm sure if I walked into a chefs kitchen I would need to be told quantities and what ingredients goes with what.
It is down to the coach to be sensible, have that individuals best interest and health at heart and want members to improve in a safe manner at a steady pace.
However, what if you feel you know best? There is a lot to say about listening to the qualified coach and appreciate what they are being told. If you don't listen and you bulge a disc, that's on you.
It has nothing to do with CrossFit.
We have all seen "that guy" down the gym looking as though he is going to rip his spleen. I have worked in a few commercial gyms in my time and I have been that member of staff to tell someone they need to drop the weight. Yeh, it might be a big factor that they are being told this by a girl but I have had a fair few looks of "what the hell do you know?!" And they carry on. In them gyms I have been informed to let the guy carry on.
CrossFit is the only place I have worked where, when this situation has occurred I have been backed up by my team and they have helped me out. To the point where it can be stepping on someone's bar and telling them to deload their bar to a lighter weight.
CrossFit is only dangerous if the owner of the box or the coaching staff aren't stern and strict enough with movements. Yes, the foundation is a quick by-pass through the movements. But the foundation is there to learn the BASICS. After that, you come to classes and use a training bar until you are confident and/or strong enough to use a bar. The coaches advise, go through the drills of the movements at the beginning of the class and ensure each member is moving well. Most boxes you will go to will have a maximum number of members per class. This is for safety and to ensure we can keep an eye on everyone.
There are additional beginners gymnastics and Olympic lifting classes to re-run those harder movements and PRACTISE. How did anyone get to move their body a certain way or learn a new movement? They practised.
They put the time and effort in and listened to what they were being told.
Additionally to this is the programme provided by boxes. What I love about Crossfit Colchester is WE programme for the box. As a team we discuss how the members are moving, what needs to be improved and then we have a knowledgable coach and athlete programme around this. It's very hard to programme for a team of members but most people need to work on squats, most people need to improve their upper body strength and most people need to just move and get a bit sweaty.
The videos you see around the Internet of people butterfly pull ups, muscle ups, handstand walking, handstand push ups. Yes, this is CrossFit but it's also the top end. No boxes (I hope) try and teach new members what you see at the CrossFit Games. It's about getting people to move in a fun and lively atmosphere.
So is Crossfit for everyone? That depends on whether you are willing to listen to what you are being told and make sure that you have chosen a box that CARES. If you can walk out of a class and have learnt one new thing then you know you are being coached. Not just taken through a crash course of injury.
Still not convinced? Book in for a taster session and see for yourselves what CrossFit is REALLY about and how it can be part of your life. Make the decision for yourself.
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