According to the CrossFit site, this program “is designed for universal scalability making it the perfect application for any committed individual regardless of experience. We’ve used our same routines for elderly individuals with heart disease and cage fighters one month out from televised bouts. We scale load and intensity; we don’t change programs.”
What that means is that every day there is a particular workout prescribed (you’ll often see this written as Rx’ed) for everybody that comes to CrossFit. Rather than having one workout for older women and another for hardcore athletes – there’s ONE workout each day that is completely scalable based on your skill. For example, if the workout calls for squats with 135 pounds but you can only do squats with the bar (45 pounds), then that’s where you’ll start. If you’re injured and can’t do squats at all, a similar movement will be substituted, and if the number of reps is too many for your current ability, that will be reduced. As you get stronger and more experienced you’ll work your way towards eventually doing the workouts as prescribed.
Now, although CrossFit can be for everybody, it certainly ISN’T for everybody. In this blogger’s humble opinion, CrossFit is perfect for a few types of people:
- Beginners to weight training – If you have NEVER weight trained before (or trained only on machines), CrossFit is a great place for you to start (provided you have a great coach, which I’ll cover shortly). You’ll learn how to do all of the important lifts in a super supportive and nonjudgmental environment. You might even find that…GASP…you love strength training!
- People looking for support and community – This is the appeal to CrossFit for me…every CrossFit gym has a really tight knit community feel to it. You’re not just a membership payment to them…you’re a person that needs help. When Nerd Fitness gyms start popping up (don’t think it won’t happen!), I’ll be drawing a lot of inspiration from CF as to how members are so supportive and inclusive of each other.
- Fitness fanatics – You know those people that love to work out every day and feel like something is missing if they don’t? The way CrossFit is structured, you are working out with regular consistency. The general protocol is 3 days on, 1 day off…but many CrossFitters (cough Staci cough) end up at the gym every day, or sometimes even twice a day. It’s addicting.
- Masochists – and I mean that in the nicest way possible. CrossFit rewards people for finishing workouts in the least amount of time possible. This means that you’ll often be in situations where you are using 100% of your effort to finish a workout, exhausting yourself, and forcing yourself through incredible amounts of pain.
- Former athletes – CrossFit has built-in teamwork, camaraderie, and competition. Almost all workouts have a time component to them, where you either have to finish a certain number of repetitions of exercises in a certain amount of time, or the time is fixed and you need to see how many repetitions you can do of an exercise. You get to compete with people in your class, and go online to see how you did against the world’s elite CrossFit athletes. There are even nationwide competitions for those that become truly dedicated.
There are a few people for whom I don’t think CrossFit would be as beneficial, but this doesn’t mean they won’t enjoy it:
- Specialists. CrossFit prides itself on not specializing, which means that anybody who is looking to specialize (like, let’s say a powerlifter) will not get the best results following the standard CrossFit workout schedule. If you want to be good at a specific activity, that’s where your focus should be.
- Solo trainers – Some people, myself included, love to work out alone. Crossfit is group training, which means you won’t have that opportunity to get your stuff done on your own.