CrossFit training is one of the most popular forms of gym training in North America. In some ways, it reminds me of a return to old methods of training when athletes made their equipment or used natural items as simple as stones.
Most CrossFit exercises are functional movements – natural and sometimes explosive exercises using many of the body’s muscles in whole-body exercises.
Functional training is the opposite of bodybuilding based on isolation of individual muscles, bombing the area with multiple sets and increasing weights with each set.
CrossFit training is not orientated to create enormous muscles for aesthetic effect but whole-body power and fitness with a major improvement in muscular endurance.
Training clients hinges on assessment skills that include reviewing medical history, lifestyle questions, assessment of posture and functional movement, and fitness testing to determine your functional ability before starting a program. If a qualified trainer is not doing these steps, you do not know if CrossFit is a safe choice.
If you begin in a class suited to your abilities and take things slow, even older adults can do CrossFit.
There are horror stories, of course. A lifetime friend sent me a video of her working out at her new CrossFit gym. She is a 60-year-old obese smoker who has not done a lick of exercise in 40 years and sent me a video of her doing 120 lbs deadlifts. I was horrified.
A good friend’s daughter was a serious competitor ranked high in her class in North America. By age 23, she was retired from competition due to severe shoulder damage – however, this can happen to athletes from any sports. Anytime you take the human body and push it to the limit over and over again, you will incur injuries, and very few people ever attempt to go that far with sports.
Nationwide statistics on CrossFit are interesting. It is popular with the under 45 age group and less so with 55 plus with only seven per cent over 55.
There have been few studies on injuries among participants. A 2013 study by the Orthopaedic Journal of Medicine involved a self-reporting survey of 400 people across North America. This analysis showed a reported injury rate of 20 per cent, with shoulders and lower back areas the most likely to be injured.
The risk for injuries was reported to be reduced significantly with individualized coaching and close supervision.
I suggest if you are in decent health with no apparent issues such as high blood pressure or irregular heart rhythm, knee, back or shoulder issues and are between 18 and 50, CrossFit can be a great choice. If you are over 50, a full fitness test is recommended, consultation with your physician, and spend a bit of extra money to pay for one-to-one coaching in the early stages.
Ron Cain is a personal trainer with Sooke Mobile Personal Training. Email him at email@example.com.