Every once in a while, we get a new fitness craze. CrossFit appeared more than a decade ago, and seems like it will stay, at least for a while longer. The program was created by Greg Glassman and has been considered to be both physical exercise and a competitive sport. Elements of CrossFit can also be found in other fitness programs like weightlifting, gymnastics, and high intensity interval training, and it has gained a cult following over the years, with more than 13.000 affiliated gyms all over the world.
All its supporters claim it is transformative, and we agree; of course it is, because it is hard, builds muscles and burns tons of calories. It packs hard workouts into a short time frame; it is done in intervals and with heavy weights known to challenge every muscle and build athletic bodies.
Due to the fact that CrossFit became very popular, many inexperienced people have jumped into teaching it. The majority of these instructors are not professionals; they come from the general population, but CrossFit Inc.nevertheless certifies them as trainers. Anyone has the chance to open a gym today, you need $4000 to pay for a Level 1 certificate, and that's it. There's been a joke circling around that it's easier to get a CrossFit certification than a magazine subscription. That's not to say that this qualification isn't awesome if you add it to your previous qualifications, because it is — it just shouldn't be allowed to stand on its own. It can't prepare you well enough to know and understand the modalities, mobility, movements, or proper lifting techniques for different workouts. Much more physical and health education is needed. This certification is enough to allow you to work supervised by someone more knowledgeable, not in your own gym.
These trainers then try to teach very advanced moves and techniques to the large groups, sometimes consisting of 20 and more people. It is hard to teach one person to do the Olympian press safely, let alone 20 or more people at a time. It inevitably leads to disasters. Most people who enter CrossFit gyms — popularly called boxes — have no athletic background. They require a lot of preparation and tutoring to do hard workouts. CrossFit is a sport. Considering it anything else – let alone a way of living – leads to injuries. Any sport requires practice and professional guidance. Have you ever heard about an Olympian weightlifter who went to the Olympics in a couple of months after first starting to train? Right, we haven't either.
In the beginning, CrossFit was more about health and safety while performing the workouts, and taking the form seriously. Nowadays, it's all about the games, money and promoting their athletes. These competitions are being held in California during summer, and hard workouts in excessive heat are often a reason even the most trained athletes give up due to exhaustion.
Exercises are revealed only a few hours before the games. There are often surprise elements, non-typical regimens because of the “athletes should be ready for anything” philosophy.
Athletes should be tested in each category when their bodies are rested to be able to respond efficiently. The most rounded athlete should win, not the one who can avoid rhabdomyolysis or a heat stroke. These games have a few good and exciting events, but some parts are cringe-worthy. When people see a notable athlete faint or drop out of the competition because it was too hard and causing him or her to fear for their lives, how do you expect people to show up at your gym door and pay for membership?
Rhabdomyolysis – Serious Condition Or Final Goal
Rhabdomyolysis is a condition related to muscle injury. It is a common result of the breakdown of muscle fibers and those torn fibers entering into the bloodstream. It leads to kidney failure because the kidneys are no longer able to remove concentrated waste and urine. Rhabdomyolysis can in rare cases cause death if not treated urgently, but immediate treatment gives a good outcome.
Myoglobin, the by-product of stray muscle fibers, ends up clogging the kidneys, and can be seen in the form of brown or red urine. Some rhabdomyolysis causes include taking alcohol or the illegal drugs, use of antipsychotics in high doses, and crash injuries like those from car accidents, but the most common reason is extreme muscle strain in untrained athletes. It is not that rare in top athletes either, the more muscle one has, the more serious the condition.
While we don't have anything against the idea behind CrossFit when done safely, someone has to say the emperor is naked. Some workouts are very badly designed.
It is like somebody tossed all the moves into a hat and started drawing. For example, “McCluskey” WOD (in CrossFit slang — workout of the day) is insane and irresponsible. It consists of three rounds of 9 muscle ups, 15 burpee pull-ups, 21 regular pull-ups and 800m of running. Too much pulling for the most trained athletes out there, not to even mention those new to CrossFit; and 108 pull-ups in a single workout?! It is insane and dangerous, the best prescription for rhabdomyolysis.
Olympic weightlifting shouldn't be done for the time it is being done in boxes all over the world. It is a hard and technical move, and shouldn't be done in high reps, let alone be turned into a cardio workout. Power lifts and Olympic lifts are technique-oriented moves and should be done in low reps with heavy weights. If you turn them into cardio like CrossFit did, it is a recipe for injuries.
One would think that a condition as severe as this one would be treated seriously and yet in the CrosFit community it is called Uncle Rhabdo. It has been represented as a cartoon character connected to a dialysis machine, with his intestines hanging down on the floor. It is an immature and jokey approach to a serious matter. CrossFit enthusiasts often wear T-shirts with “Go until you Rhabdo” written in huge letters. Those from the top claim they are just trying to be ethical and honest — and show all the risks. Is this a smart and fun approach to a serious condition, or an inappropriate motivational quote? Judge for yourselves.
The CrossFit community does some good things as well. They are widely present in online media, advocating healthy eating habits. They are working on raising awareness about the type 2 diabetes and its main cause, which is the bad diet. The supporters don't consume processed foods and live the Paleo lifestyle, which is heavy on vegetables and meat and something prehistoric men would eat — basically the things you can pick or hunt. Whether we're like cavemen is debatable – but hey, it's still better than the processed junk the majority of people consume from day to day. While CrossFit isn't the best health and fitness regimen out there, it is not the worst either. If done properly and with adequate supervision, it can do amazing things for your body, but unfortunately, that adequate supervision is extremely rare in this time and age of money-making and numerous fads.