An inside look at the latest fad and whether or not the benefits outweigh the risks
It’s the newest thing in personal fitness training and chances are a friend or classmate has already told you all about their latest CrossFit adventure. While it is a great full-body workout that members can’t get enough of, CrossFit can be a dangerous training method if not performed correctly.
There are countless people getting injured from this workout regime, according to personal trainer and bootcamp instructor Chuck Frischman.
“It has good short-term results but not in the long run,” said Frischman. “Most people ignore form and technique and simply do the exercises, which is when they get injured.”
The ever-growing trend, since it was developed in 2000, incorporates a series of high-intensive interval training exercises that range normally from seven minutes to a maximum of 30 minutes. It stresses the body to its limits so people quickly burn more body fat.
Some of the exercises that are used include squats, smashes, dead lifts, bench press, burpees and weightlifting, to name a few. These are always combined in different ways and within a time limit to challenge the individual. No two CrossFit workouts are ever the same, nor should they be normally repeated. That’s one of the reasons it is so appealing. Regular workouts revolve around the same set of machines or equipment, but with CrossFit, it’s a brand new experience every time.
The method has been widely criticized because people lose weight at an alarming rate. Many injuries have also been reported because people do not take into consideration their physical limitations and focus on developing proper workout techniques. Director of the Pediatric Undergraduate Education at McGill University and Zumba fitness instructor, Dr. Preetha Krishnamoorthy, explains the importance of knowing your limits.
“Exercise needs to be tailored to each individual,” said Krishnamoorthy. “The key to exercise is to build yourself up slowly and check with a doctor before doing anything too intense.”
CrossFit does not have an age range. Videos posted online and comments on social media show teens, adults, children from 6-11, as well as preschoolers doing these exercises.
Dr. Krishnamoorthy believes that CrossFit should be practiced between the ages of 18 and 35. Those who are younger need to have their muscles and conditioning checked beforehand, and those who are older should always have approval from their doctor before engaging in the exercise.
There are others that believe that CrossFit is healthy and safe. Simply ask Steve Goffman, the co-owner and head coach at Coexist CrossFit+Obstacles in Dollard-des-Ormeaux. For 24 years, Goffman did traditional weightlifting until he discovered CrossFit. He wanted a change from the boring routines that left him unsatisfied.
“The first time I tried CrossFit with a co-worker, I did 20 minutes straight of bench press and ‘Cindy’ (an exercise that consists of pull-ups, push-ups and squats). After 10 minutes, I wanted to die. After 20 minutes, I went outside to throw up. That is when I found my calling,” said Goffman.
When being asked why so many people are injured using this method, Goffman explained that most of these people do not have trainers. At Coexist, the trainer assesses each individual’s physical condition privately. Then they warm up together, work on techniques and increase the intensity during the exercise.
“Anyone at any skill level, and [with] any injury, can do it,” said Goffman. “If a doctor allows someone injured to come back and work out, I’ll create workouts for him to do.”
Meghan Kelly, a journalism student at Concordia University, is also a fan of CrossFit training and has found it has been extremely beneficial.
“It allowed me to get a lot stronger,” Kelly said. “I loved the intensity, the cardio, it is self-motivating and I got results.”
Kelly was member of Reebox CrossFit YUL in Dollard-des-Ormeaux. Saturdays were her favourite day of the week to go because of the team training events that took place.
“Normally CrossFit is individual,” Kelly explained. “But on Saturdays we are placed in teams of four, working on relay-type activities. It is really nice to workout with friends and be able to motivate each other.”
There will always be debate whether or not CrossFit is appropriate exercise for most people, but Dr. Krishnamoorthy knows one thing for sure.
“Every form of exercise will be tough, but you need to find motivation to keep going.”