My CrossFit experience
CrossFit is a sport that I decided to experiment with at the beginning of this year. Often criticized, many prejudices revolve around it. That’s why I chose to write this article, in order to share with you in all honesty my own experience and my point of view concerning this discipline.
After asking you on my Instagram @oceaneailleurs account what were your prejudices about CrossFit, I decided to answer you with an article, because it is for me the most adapted format to approach this topic.
I myself have been criticized about this sport practice, I found that it was not adaptable to everyone, that it was to feed the ego and act against the body and not with it. Ouch! If my coaches could hear me… Today and after experience, my vision has totally changed and I think it’s important to share it with you in order to put things in their place.
I’ll start by defining CrossFit for you, then I’ll talk about the prejudices you shared with me, and then I’ll finish with my personal experience.
CrossFit is a training program designed to improve the general physical condition of the practitioner.
To achieve this, the practitioner exercises a multitude of functional movements, most often at high intensity, in a motivating environment.
CrossFit is associated by analogy with the training methods of police schools, special military training units, martial arts champions, and many high level athletes.
Let us now turn to the most popular prejudices concerning this sport:
1) “CrossFit is a fad.”
I’m going to respond to that apriori by starting with his story:
Greg Glassman, a former gymnast, and his ex-wife founded CrossFit, Inc. in 2000 in the United States, which was originally a brand. A year later, Glassman launched the CrossFit.com site, which will allow the brand to expand its communication and make all training routines, called WOD (workout of the day) available to the general public. It is indeed a fairly young sport and is at its peak today as it is beginning to reach beyond the borders of the United States.
Then, we notice that in our time, society is moving faster and faster. Indeed, we have less time available in our days because we have to manage many things at the same time. So much so that we often overlook sports activities. CrossFit is a one hour training session, but ULTRA effective! Because it works the whole body and the general physical condition. As a result, there are great benefits to practicing this discipline regardless of the physical objective sought.
2) “CrossFit is violent for the joints and causes long-term problems.”
We will also address the bias of high risk of injury since these two apriorities are linked. I will address this with the help of my coach, Jessica Falcy, Swiss wakeboard champion and certified fitness instructor, and CrossFit, and nutrition consultant.
To begin with, when you practice a sport, there is no such thing as “zero risk” and CrossFit is no exception to this rule.
In fact, there are no more injuries in CrossFit than in other intense sports such as football, soccer or hockey. To give you some figures, the CrossFit injury rate is on average 3.1 injuries per 1’000 hours of training. In comparison, this is ten times less than for occasional runners who train 30 to 90 minutes a week, and who have 33 injuries per 1’000 hours of running.
Contrary to false beliefs, it is not beginners who are most at risk of CrossFit injuries, but experienced runners.
Indeed, athletes who have a perfect command of basic movements will tend to want to try more complex movements or increase the intensity of training (lifting heavier weights, doing more repetitions, etc.). The competitive spirit that drives them can also lead them to exceed their limits without worrying about their condition. All these factors ultimately make experienced athletes more at risk of injury.
Secondly, the most frequent injuries result from a lack of recovery/rest. This neglect destroys the body because we don’t give our physical structures (muscles and joints) the time they need to rebuild themselves after intense sports activity. So don’t neglect rest!
The way we train also influences the injury rate. A bad training also causes injuries, but at CrossFit, the WOD is led by one or more coaches, so we are constantly under the supervision of experts who ensure the correct execution of the movements as well as the loads lifted according to our general condition and that of the day (tiredness, pain, etc.).
It is therefore necessary to use the professionalism and protection available to us and always ask the coaches for advice, because that is what they are there for. Personally, I never train alone in CrossFit because I don’t have enough experience, but also because it is a sport that uses quite complex coordination movements and therefore the eye of the coach is essential for that.
Here are some tips to follow to avoid injuries:
- Start CrossFit gradually.
- Allow yourself some rest to avoid overtraining.
- Listen to your body and, if pain occurs, talk to the coach and adapt the exercises to rest the painful part, and if after a few days the pain does not disappear, consult a sports doctor or physiotherapist.
- Be regular in your training.
- Leave your ego aside, do not be impatient and do not compare yourself to others.
- Listen to your coach, because technique is essential before you can lift weight.
- Use qualified coaches.
- Work on flexibility, stretch.
- Warm up well, joints too.
- Do strengthening exercises to protect your joints.
- Eat healthily and in accordance with the sport practised.
- In conclusion, strengthening the muscles improves the stability of the joint structures which will protect them from injury.
3) “It’s a bully’s sport.”
I will repeat myself but… CrossFit is useful for all physical aspects! There is not necessarily only strength, there is endurance but also mobility. The majority of WOD is composed of calm moments where one exercises one’s mobility and coordination in order to be best prepared for the execution of the finish which is at high intensity. The problem is that the media presenting CrossFit only conveys epic images, sometimes even of suffering, when in reality the training is quite different.
To conclude, I think that CrossFit is not a sport that can be generalized because of the variety of movements and philosophies of the coaches who run the box (the place where the sport is practiced). Each practitioner is free to share this philosophy and therefore to find the box that suits him.
WHAT CROSSFIT BROUGHT ME:
1) The improvement of my physical condition
It only takes a short time to practice CrossFit to see a real improvement in the physical condition of the practitioner. For me, it is my flexibility and mobility that have been improved first. Then I saw my body take shape by having lost fat mass. Finally, I noticed a clear improvement in my balance, coordination and cardio.
I can’t give any strength development yet, as I was already a regular strength and fitness practitioner before.
Finally, CrossFit has also allowed me to see where I lack strength or flexibility, and thus to know my strong and weak points.
2) The improvement of my state of mind
Some CrossFit exercises challenge the practitioner and put him/her in difficulty, the motivating environment and the encouragement of other athletes allow him/her to perform and complete them. The result is a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction, in addition to the well-being resulting from the secretion of endorphin… #sogood.
Personally, my first sensation was the discovery of my body, I got closer to it and I respect it more today. It has proven itself to me and shown me its capabilities.
Finally, my discipline and sociability have also developed thanks to this practice.
3) Preparation to overcome small daily challenges
CrossFit allows a better quality of life. Yes yes, whether you think so or not, physical improvements allow the practitioner to better manage everyday actions such as climbing stairs, carrying groceries, running so as not to miss the train… and even standing correctly because CrossFit also improves posture.
It is indeed following the practice of CrossFit that I noticed that running to catch my train (I know I’m not the only one in this case, so don’t laugh!) or climbing 3 floors by the stairs tires me less or even more.
4) Improved physical appearance
So yes, we still have to talk about the physical aspect… CrossFit, practiced as I do, has allowed me to lose the layer of fat camouflaging some of my muscles. I feel lighter, and my muscles are more apparent, so I’ve lost fat mass, while preserving my muscle mass.
I hear a lot about how women become men when they practice CrossFit. However, the people behind these thoughts are based on the physique of top athletes and not on a generality. First of all, the physique created in CrossFit is not created for aesthetic purposes, but for performance purposes. Secondly, why can’t a woman have developed trapezoids? I think we have to put things in their place and admit that a woman’s aestheticism is above all influenced by a societal dogma before judging CrossFit as a practice that modifies “the basic female body”. At the end of the day, each body, each muscle, each genetics are different, and it is therefore impossible to compare them to an irrational reference… to an ideal.
Personally, I am shoulder width and I have more ease in developing muscle in my upper body than in my lower body. In order to bring my genetics back into harmony, I privilege leg-oriented strength WOD and I attend upper body endurance WOD.
In the end, everyone can find what he or she wants, because it’s a sport that can be customized if you know yourself well enough, and if not, that’s what the coaches are there for.
I end this article with sincere thanks to the staff of CrossFit All Elements for their generosity, professionalism and kindness.
Thanks to CrossFit and in particular thanks to CrossFit All Elements have discovered what the words Motivation, Support, Courage and Discovery mean.