CrossFit is the greatest thing to happen to fitness since the the invention of the barbell.
Or maybe it's the bane of the fitness community.
It's all in who you ask.
Whatever your beliefs, there are some solid facts regarding CrossFit’s impact on fitness and what positives it’s brought to those who have joined its movement.
Let’s take a look at a few universal things everyone can learn from CrossFit.
1. Fitness is a Community
A long time ago, the local gym was a community of people who talked, shared ideas, helped each other, and gave encouragement. It was a place you looked forward to showing up, meeting up with lifting buddies, and sharing a funny story or two all while getting in some hardcore workouts. It was the place to be.
Fast forward to today and everyone is either on their phone, listening to music, or just plain not interested in looking anyone in the eye - much less offer a spot, training technique, or a simple hello.
Look into any CrossFit box. You won’t see a single phone in hand, earbuds on, or anyone isolating themselves from the pack yearning to be left alone. CrossFit cultivates community, support, motivation, and all-out focus. It has managed (in record time) to reestablish that long-lost art of community that was once so prevalent in the average gym.
Some may label this as “drinking the CrossFit Kool-Aid,” but I’m positive that is what was said about lifters long ago who had this community. Today you belong to the average gym, but with CrossFit you belong to a community of people. People who are willing to help each other, encourage you to keep going, and lend support through adversity in and out of the gym.
Try It: Break the commercial gym mold. Just introducing yourself may open the path for a new member to ask you questions. Remember, don't be a creeper or offer unwanted advice. No one wants to be "that guy" at the gym.
2. Get Motivated, Get Results
With community comes motivation. Others with like goals and similar experiences and desires can help you in the long run. CrossFit organically cultivates motivation through setting goals, perfecting techniques, and friendly competition. Most that enter a box with hesitation and preformed opinions are instantly surprised and disarmed by the amount of inclusion and positive motivation they encounter.
When it comes to the average commercial gym, motivation must mostly come from within (which is a good thing), but sometimes we all need an external boost from the people around us in order to get over our speedbumps.
Sometimes commercial gyms even become an unofficial and unwelcome competition of “who’s bigger and stronger.” A great lift or setting a PR is met with jealousy and the need to impress rather than a pat on the back or a congrats.
Few CrossFitters are training to impress the person next to them. They are there to impress themselves regarding what they can do, how they can move forward, and improve their lives for the better. Motivation comes built in, not something you need to search for.
Try It: If you need some extra motivation but aren't finding it at the gym, consider joining an online community. You'll be inspired by other people's accomplishments and motivated to try your best.
3. Stay Accountable
The average gym-goer may have a training partner who keeps them accountable for showing up, giving their best, and staying consistent. But life happens and you will miss workouts and lack serious motivation at times. This, in turn, affects your progress, motivation, and accountability. At the end of the day, your perfect plan of accountability looks more like a sporadic roll of the dice.
This isn’t to say that the average gym-goer is doomed. Accountability is a personal thing that must be cultivated from within. There are many strong individuals who possess immense amounts of self-control and self-discipline and are extremely successful on their own.
CrossFit, however, is great for those who lack a little in those departments. Accountability is built in to the program. There is always someone there to lend a hand, push you past your limits, and who cares about your success. Sure, we all have our days where getting to the gym is last on the list of priorities due to family or other sporadic life episodes, but there is always a community of people expecting you.
Try It: Find a way to stay accountable. You know, for real this time. Whether you're accountable to a training partner or an app, make sure you have a reason to check in with your training.
4. Set Goals
Some people have no problem setting attainable, realistic, and specific goals. They charge straight ahead towards said goals and conquer them with conviction and purpose. Goals seem easy to set and tough to get, but they do it despite the challenges that may lie ahead.
Then there are others who need a helping hand or lack direction. With all of the attributes such as community, motivation, and accountability already at your disposal, CrossFit once again cultivates goal setting.
Whether it’s a workout of the day or setting specific goals such as perfecting a certain lift through technique and coaching cues, CrossFit has these invaluable benefits included in their programming, coaching, and all-around atmosphere. Many big-box commercial gyms do little-to-nothing to help new members with their personal goals. Sure, they may get a free personal training session or two to show them how to use some basic weight machines and cardio equipment, but little else.
Try It: Take the time to write down attainable, realistic, and specific goals. Having the goal of "go to the gym 4x/week" isn't enough to maximize results. Be as detailed as you can with your goal setting and create an actionable plan that supports your specific goals. Whether you're chasing a six-pack or a PR, have a goal that gets you going.
5. Step Out of your Comfort Zone
When you look around in most gyms you will observe the same people performing the same workouts as they did possibly a year ago.
Monday is usually chest day and most will migrate to the bench press, incline bench press, and some sort of fly machine. It’s like riding a merry-go-round. Same scene, same workouts, same results.
Again, there are those who can go anywhere and get a great workout hitting all the right buttons (variety, progression, introducing new exercises, learning new techniques, etc.), but others still need help. There are so many who need to inject new life into their tired, old routines.
Try It: Mix up your routine. Read new articles or find a new routine on YouTube. If you always train with machines, tackle some free weights and compound lifts. If you're always working on strength, try a high volume day to change up.