A workout designed for anyone from “elderly individuals with heart disease to cage fighters,” CrossFit is a conditioning program that strives for diverse, high-intensity and useful kinds of movement. It is meant to improve overall fitness, as participants undergo a short 20-minute workout that includes jumping and climbing rope, rowing, sprinting, flipping tires, carrying heavy objects, weightlifting and using equipment like medicine balls and gymnastic rings. Enthusiasts say it’s one of the top workouts of 2013, and it’s now offered in more than 6,000 gyms across the country.
CrossFit is one of the fastest-growing sports in America and has even inspired blogs dedicated to the eye-pleasing results. It’s popular in circles that thrive on intensity and for those striving to push their body to the limit — and who can blame them? This program is one of the first of its kind that targets flexibility, cardiovascular fitness, muscular strength, stamina, balance, speed, agility and coordination all at once.
While most exercise focuses on the same movement over and over (e.g., 20 minutes on a stationary bike), CrossFit blends the principles of gymnastics, weightlifting and sprinting in order to achieve a “gorgeous hybrid” and unique workout experience. The founder, Greg Glassman, created the workout because he believes traditional fitness today is lacking diversity and functional movements.
“The bodybuilding model of isolation movements combined with insignificant metabolic conditioning needs to be replaced with a strength and conditioning model that contains more complex functional movements with a potent systematic stimulus,” Glassman says. “CrossFit’s workouts better model high-demand functional activities. Think about it — a circuit of wall ball, lunges and deadlift high pulls at max heart rate better matches a larger range of activities than does cycling at any heart rate.”
Due to the overwhelming popularity of CrossFit in gyms all around the nation, the CrossFit Games were created to inspire some of the fittest people on Earth. While decathlons miss the mark of some fitness components, the games are a three-stage journey that requires athletes to test their physical limits. Competitors will complete a wide range of intense activities — like dusty hill sprints, carrying sandbags, ocean swims and even a few surprises. In fact, the 100 athletes selected don’t know the course details until they arrive.
The scoring of the games is as unique as the obstacles themselves. Athletes are scored on a relative system. That is, scores are based off of how each competitor completes the course relative to their peers. This unique scoring system was designed to fairly assess the fittest 50 men and 50 women on Earth, and judges can fairly determine who will reign as the fittest man and women on the planet.
Ready to go into beast mode? There are a growing number of websites dedicated for those who train for the CrossFit Games — or who simply want to get involved in the CrossFit community — full of videos, blogs, journals and inspiration.
Still on the fence? Here’s a rousing video: