An article by Adam Shackell, coach at CrossFit Bath
1. CrossFit the Fitness Programme v CrossFit the Sport
If someone says CrossFit is dangerous and does so without differentiating between Crossfit the fitness programme and Crossfit the Sport, then high five them in the face…..with a chair. For a start most CrossFit coaches I know absolutely hammer technique. The Crossfit Level 1 course is spent with nothing other than a PVC pipe, drilling movements and positions until near perfection. That doesn’t sound like a fitness movement uninterested in technique to me. Walk into your local globo gym and you will have a hard time finding anyone lifting WITH good technique.
People that do CrossFit as a SPORT account for less than 1% of an average boxes membership. Can kipping HSPU’s, high rep snatches and butterfly Pull Ups be troublesome for some, of course, but what sport is 100% safe? The minority that do the Sport of CrossFit aren’t doing it to be “Healthy”, they are competing for points and understand the risks, just like those that step over the white line for a game of rugby or football. The CrossFit Games are there to test the fittest people on the planet. they are the 1% of the 1%, they are not the true representation of a CF member at your local box. The guys and gals that need to be doing these “riskier” elements of CrossFit should first of earn’t the right to do so (everyone wants to run before they can walk) and once they have, will likely be doing their own individual programming or competitor classes.
Do regular gym goers need to be resting on their heads for “real life fitness”? I would strongly argue no!
The people that do Crossfit as a fitness programme should be leaving your gym fitter and healthier than when they walked in! Is any fitness programme 100% safe? Of course not, but as a coach when looking at clients across the room first ask yourself “are they safe?”. Most people walk through your door with internal rotation of the shoulders, tight hips, dodgy backs, the in-ability to put their hands above their heads without compromising in their lower back and a whole host of other issues. Now do these individuals need to be doing handstand walks, overhead squats and kipping pull ups to better their lives! No! Do we get these individuals doing kipping handstand push ups, hell no! Why? Because there are far safer ways to get these individuals fit and healthy and ultimately 99.9% of your gym come to see you because they want to look good naked and be stronger. Building a strong strength and aerobic foundation should be the first priority, not adding speed and momentum onto dysfunction.
As an example lets take Doris, she is 46 years old and is coming to you for increased fitness, added strength and to look and feel better. She doesn’t even know what the CrossFit Games is, let alone have ambitions of competing at a local level herself. She comes into the workout of the day and its 21-15-9 reps of Snatches and Kipping HSPU’s. (I highly recommend that isn’t the type of WOD you programme for your fitness group). Now what do you think Doris is going to get out of a scaling of 21-15-9 Power Snatches with a technique bar or worse a PVC pipe and kipping HSPU’s with a 20kg disc and an abmat under her head!? I would argue, not a f***** lot! A Power Snatch is just a rapid hip hinge, what else is also a rapid hip hinge, far safer and able to give Doris a similar stimulus to the big dawgs? Russian Kettlebell Swings. A handstand push up is just an upper body pressing exercise, whats the most basic form of that? A push up of course. For a start can Doris do 10 perfectly executed push ups? If the answer is no, why the hell is she inverted doing a progression to that exercise and when will she need to do this is the real world.
Functional movements are based on real world situational bio-mechanics, or simply put, sitting down standing up (Squat), picking things off the floor (Deadlift) and putting things overhead (Presses) to name a few. I really doubt Doris has ever been in a situation in life where she thought “You know what, this task would be so much easier if I could walk on my hands”. Compare that to Froning where this certainly would be the case, and hopefully you can see the difference between Fitness and the Sport.
So, If you still believe the average client of a CrossFit box is doing CrossFit the Sport you are either uneducated and/or ignorant or you have been to a really poor box (I hope its not the latter, and if it is, I suggest you shop around for a better one). Not all plumbers are good plumbers, but the ones that are, are worth their weight in gold.
Hopefully this gives you some ammunition next time someone spouts out CrossFit is dangerous or someone is hesitant to join because they have heard all we do is high rep olympic lifting.
I will leave you with a mantra I heard Julian Pineau say that I absolutely loved. If you take nothing away from this article then take this:
Move Safe >> Move better >> then Move Faster!