You might have already heard about CrossFit, that it is a high-powered group workout regimen, and come to the conclusion that it is not for you. After all, why risk injury while training with a group when you have a personal trainer at your gym who tells you exactly what you need to do to stay fit, and prevents you from injuring your muscles through over-strenuous exercise? This is where you are wrong.
CrossFit is not exactly a high-powered regimen. It consists of Workout of the Day, a random set of exercises (there are no fixed routines) that vary every day. They might seem brutal, to say the very least, but they are not for all CrossFit athletes. CrossFit is a responsible program, so after you sign up, a CrossFit-trained and certified coach works with you to determine what levels you are capable of personally. So even if the Workout of the Day involves 100 chest-to-bar pull-ups and this is something beyond you, your trainer will not force you to do the entire 100 pull-ups – just what you can do. At first, you would have to tell your trainer when you reach the breaking point – this is how they assess your level – but after that, they won’t push you. However, they might encourage you subtly to become fitter. For instance, if you can manage only 20 pull-ups, your trainer makes a note of this. The next time chest-to-bar pull-ups are included in the Workout of the Day (it might be more than four months before it comes again), you will have to become fitter, so your trainer might suggest 22 pull-ups. However, you are free to stop when you feel you have had enough. The number doesn’t matter. What matters is that you give it your best. One-on-one communication with your trainer ensures that both of you are on the same page when it comes to your personal fitness level.
So you can see how it is neither ‘high-powered’ and can be similar to personal training.
Sometimes, the Workout of the Day – this is available publicly on the CrossFit 1013 website – may feature exercises that are not always possible for you, such as squats when you are nursing a hamstring injury. Your CrossFit trainer will substitute it with something you can do, like upper-body exercises that do not cause any strain on your hamstring. The Workouts of the Day are at best guidelines. Every CrossFit coach is specifically trained not to over-exert any athlete. Because different athletes participating in the Workouts of the Day have different levels of fitness, CrossFit coaches afford personal attention to every participant. This is what makes the CrossFit program so unique – and successful worldwide. The myriad of exercises, although seemingly random, are actually carefully selected to guarantee that every muscle in your body becomes fitter. When a routine is repeated, CrossFit asks you to compare your personal performance with the last time you did it. This is how you can see for yourself that you are indeed getting fitter.
So why do people train in groups and not individually? It has been found that CrossFit participants perform better in a group. This only results in you becoming fitter, and at a faster rate than if you were to train individually, at your own pace.
The reasons are far from peer pressure. It can be fun to work out in a group, and because of the energy levels present, you are more motivated than when training individually. Let us face it, no matter what fitness level you are at, you are not going to give it your 100% if you are feeling down mentally. You are more likely to pack up and leave after doing some minimal routines. Every personal trainer knows that motivating their clients is the hardest part of the job. In CrossFit, there is a lot of camaraderie – you quickly make friends with your fellow participants – and it is hard to feel down when everyone else is so upbeat. The group training is more psychological than physical.
Those who complete the 100 chest-to-bar pull-ups do not look down on those who can manage only ten. They were also probably only capable of that at some point.
There is also another reason – you feel compelled to do that extra lift when the participant beside you is doing it. This is just plain healthy competition. Because nobody goads you, there is no peer pressure – you can stop when you feel your body has had enough. At CrossFit1013, we specifically encourage this. Because nobody knows your body better than you.
How will I get personalized attention in a group?
This is a very valid question. After all, no trainer can keep track of what a hundred CrossFit athletes are doing, all at the same time. Because of this, we see to it that CrossFit athletes train only in small groups, where the trainer can lend his/her personal attention to each and every one.