Since Crossfit’s inception in the early 2000s, it has taken the world by storm. Growing from 1 gym to over 15,000 in only 20 years. Crossfit the methodology has literally changed millions of people’s lives. On top of helping people get healthier, they have also created a need for competitions like wodapoolza, equipment companies like Rogue, and software companies like Wodify. The effect that Crossfit has had on the fitness world is staggering.
What made Crossfit so powerful? It couldn’t have been just the WOD’s, because most of them have you dying on the floor afterward. What made Crossfit into the fitness juggernaut that it is was the community. The common bond we all shared as we fought through Fran, or Cindy, brought us closer together and created unique experiences that we could always relate to no matter our race, gender, or creed. The language of hard work is universal.
Unfortunately, Crossfit has shown it’s true colors recently by making light of the death of George Floyd and the systemic racism that perpetuates our institutions, and created that situation, from the top down.
Crossfit the brand had the power to move mountains and help everyone with their voice. So why did they stay silent and then when they did speak why make such an ignorant and insensitive statement? To me that says that Crossfit doesn’t really care about our community. I wasn’t the only Ione who felt that way because recently had a member of color tell me that he no longer felt safe in the gym because Crossfit didn’t stand up for him and his family when they needed it most.
That is why we cut ties with Crossfit. It’s time to stand up for what we believe is right. I see many other Crossfit’s have done the same but many more have decided to stay. I understand why, it’s much easier to pretend to care, by saying we are waiting for Crossfit to do the right thing. Getting away from Crossfit means you can no longer piggyback on their brand recognition. It means you have to create your own system that is effective enough to retain members. It means making a stand that could cost you your business and livelihood. It means actually thinking about the health of our community at large, not just the people who pay for access to your gym.
Crossfit is defined as constantly varied, high intensity, functional movement. Crossfit has shown that this way of training has a dramatic effect on its participant’s strength, conditioning, and fitness, when done correctly in the right frequency, intensity, and time domains. The problem is that Crossfit has neglected things such as programming recovery methods into training via cooldowns and low-intensity regenerative work such as soft tissue work, corrective exercises, and single-joint exercises for hypertrophy. This has led to injury, burnout, and even illness.
So how do we improve upon Crossfit and survive without its brand recognition? It starts with caring about your community. Really caring about your community. Knowing their jobs, injuries, stress levels, and their goals. Understanding the human body and how it responds to stress – both inside the gym and out. This has been my single-minded mission since opening Live Free.
We need to take everything that we know and love from the feel of traditional CrossFit but improve many elements to continue to ensure the very best results for our members.
We may no longer be a Crossfit gym but no matter what you call it, the goal will continue to always be the same, to best serve our community by keeping them healthy, progressing, and thriving for life. And simply put, force-feeding “traditional” CrossFit exercises like snatches and kipping pull-ups and blindly following archaic and dogmatic approaches to what you may think CrossFit is, does not serve a vast majority of our people. It hinders them.
Here are 3 ways we can improve upon Crossfit.
1. Improving the onboarding process of new clients.
The days of doing new members doing snatches and pull-ups while under extreme fatigue need to come to an end. At Live Free, we opt for more user-friendly variations and when we do program higher-skill variations like the full snatch under fatigue there are still options available that will align with people that simply are not capable of performing a snatch. Remember, no one exercise is mandatory to achieve results.
When you’re able to follow a more logical approach in terms of progression, you will improve your metrics, not to mention look and feel a whole lot better.
Earn the right to progress, and respect movement variations and patterns that may seem “simpler” just as much as the peak challenge. Because in reality, a landmine press isn’t any less challenging than a handstand push up if you are going hard, and achieving a training effect.
2. Proper preparation and warm-up.
If you have ever trained with us at Live Free you know that we are huge proponents of Prehab exercises. Prehabilitation, or prehab, a form of strength training, aims to prevent injuries before the actual occurrence. The overall goal is to improve movement quality, which will enhance performance, as well as health and also increase longevity in physical activities.
Prehab helps prepare the body for the physical demands of training, competition, and life. Why is prehab necessary? The answer to this question is much longer. To start to answer this question, we need to take a step back and look at our world from a bigger point of view.
In our first world nation, we drive to work, sit all day, staring at screens, and have our food brought to us. We no longer need to move anymore. This has created tremendous deficiencies in terms of our posture and movement quality.
The growth of fitness, exercise, and sports created a large disparity: the level of fitness programming and exercise usually exceeds the physical capacities of the average person. Essentially, people are not fit enough to exercise anymore and this has lead to the invention of prehab. prehab is designed to be a supplemental portion of a training program that helps a person to become fit enough for the actual training program.
That is why we focus on Prehab movements in every class. This allows the underused muscles of modern society to be worked in patterns that allow for increased worked capacity and decreased injuries. If your coach or trainer isn’t doing these it may be time to change gyms.
3. Mandatory Cooldown
What’s in a cool down? A lot! In fact, this is one of the bigger changes we’ve made to our programming – including measures that ANYONE can do after class to drive recovery via the parasympathetic nervous system. This system is responsible for your rest and digest metabolism.
Often times clients “want more” after class, but really they’d be better served to focus on improving their recovery not to mention their sleep patterns, but we can certainly control the implementation of easy recovery measures. Positional parasympathetic breathing drills are done for 3-5:00 mins adds the cherry on sundae to a workout and drives the parasympathetic nervous system.
The cooldown allows you to build your recovery up as much as your training is strategically breaking you down. And more recovery means a healthier quality of life, in both the short term and long term, in a day and age where chronic burnouts and injuries have become the norm.
Crossfit Done Right
As you can see we have very specific goals when training our community. Our first goal is for you to feel welcome in the gym. Once you feel like you want to be there then we make sure to give you the exercise prescription you need, and in doing so we keep you improving at the right speed. Finally, we bookend every training session with prehab and a cooldown. This allows you stay healthy, get more from your WOD’s, and feel good after training because you are prioritizing recovery.
I am grateful that Crossfit taught me so much about what not to do, and thankful that I have a community that believes in us enough to stand by us as we move towards a new era in Community Fitness.