Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Exploring the problems with CrossFit

The Workout of the Day got the best of this fellow.
The Workout of the Day got the best of this fellow. iStock

Everyone knows someone who does/has done CrossFit, and we’re all equally familiar with the quips regarding the fitness cult.

What’s the first rule of CrossFit? You always talk about CrossFit. 

What’s the second rule of CrossFit? You always talk about CrossFit.

Whether you’re infuriated or humored after three sentences, the investigative team on ESPN’s Outside the Lines recently highlighted some issues draping the sport such as the risk of serious injury and how easy it is for someone to become a certified CrossFit trainer. 

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  • Call this terrible timing, but the report was released two weeks ago at the conclusion of the 2014 CrossFit Games, which ironically is covered exclusively by the Worldwide Leader in Sports.

    From OTL

    “Prospective box owners first sign up through headquarters, or HQ, for a two-day certification class -- known as the Level 1 Cert -- that costs $1,000 and introduces the ‘methodology and foundational movements’ of CrossFit. At the end of the two days, there's a 55-question, multiple-choice test.” 

    That doesn’t exactly sound like a meticulous curriculum for someone who will be coordinating and training men, women and children – some of which have never exercised a day in their life – through highly intense workouts. 

    Combine that with an interest level in form and proper technique that resembles that of last year’s Christmas toys, and you have the perfect storm of disaster. Seriously, what’s up those pull-ups? You can’t really call them pull-ups, right?

    Men’s Fitness has a section on their site called CrossFit Confessions, written by average Joe’s and Jane’s in the world of CrossFit. However, for every success story, you’ll find several that voice their displeasure with the popular fitness fad.

    “My wife got hurt. I got hurt. We all got hurt,” recalls Alex Peck, whose entire family took up CrossFit. “I don’t know anyone who hasn’t had injuries —usually minor, but some resulting in surgery—sometimes due to pushing the envelope, and sometimes to poor programming by CrossFit corporate or their individual gym.”

    In a study done by researchers from Ohio State University’s kinesiology department that followed 54 CrossFitters over the course of 10 weeks, 16 percent of the participants dropped out, citing injury overuse or injury as their reason for not finishing the program.

    It should be noted that CrossFit is suing the National Strength and Conditioning Association for publishing the study, saying it contains inaccurate data.

    A torn labrum or sprained knee isn’t even what should worry you the most while plugging along through those WODs. That duty belongs to something extremely well known in CrossFit circles called rhabdomyolysis, a potentially fatal condition resulting from the rapid breakdown of muscle cells.

    In a NY Times article, Brian Anderson developed rhabdomyolysis and spent six days in intensive care after a CrossFit class.

    CrossFit founder Greg Glassman reiterated what he already knew.

    “It can kill you. I've always been completely honest about that," he said.

    Risk comes with anything, but I'm not sure after hearing that quote I'd want to take my chances with a trainer who might have just received their certification last weekend by using the "when in doubt, 'C' your way out" method.

    There’s no denying the importance of exercise, especially with the obesity epidemic America is facing. CrossFit gives people a social and competitive experience that helps them reach their fitness goals. 

    Before you start anything, you need do your research first, and more importantly listen to your body. There’s a difference between having something left in the tank and running on empty.

    But still, no pain, no gain.

    Or maybe it’s, pain, and no gains?
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