Is this for me?
Absolutely! Your needs and a Olympic athlete differ by degree not kind. Increased power, strength, cardiovascular and respiratory endurance, flexibility, stamina, coordination, agility, and balance are each important to the world’s best athletes and to our grandparents. The amazing truth is that the very same methods that elicit optimal response in the Olympic or professional athlete will optimize the same response in the elderly. Of course, we can’t load your grandmother with the same squatting weight that we’d assign an Olympic skier, but they both need to squat. In fact, squatting is essential to maintaining functional independence and improving fitness. Squatting is just one example of a movement that is universally valuable and essential yet rarely taught to any but the most advanced of athletes. This is a tragedy. Through painstakingly thorough coaching and incremental load assignment CrossFit has been able to teach anyone who can care for themselves to perform safely and with maximum efficiency the same movements typically utilized by professional coaches in elite and certainly exclusive environments.
Just what is a core strength and conditioning program?
CrossFit is a core strength and conditioning program in two distinct senses. First, we are a core strength and conditioning program in the sense that the fitness we develop is foundational to all other athletic needs. This is the same sense in which the university courses required of a particular major are called the “core curriculum”. This is the stuff that everyone needs. Second, we are a “core” strength and conditioning program in the literal sense meaning the center of something. Much of our work focuses on the major functional axis of the human body, the extension and flexion, of the hips and extension, flexion, and rotation of the torso or trunk. The primacy of core strength and conditioning in this sense is supported by the simple observation that powerful hip extension alone is necessary and nearly sufficient for elite athletic performance. That is, our experience has been that no one without the capacity for powerful hip extension enjoys great athletic prowess and nearly everyone we’ve met with that capacity was a great athlete. Running, jumping, punching, and throwing all originate at the core. At CrossFit we endeavor to develop our athletes from the inside out, from core to extremity, which is by the way how good functional movements recruit muscle, from the core to the extremities.
What if I don’t want to be an athlete; I just want to be healthy?
You’re in luck. We hear this often, but the truth is that fitness, wellness, and pathology (sickness) are measures of the same entity, your health. There are a multitude of measurable parameters that can be ordered from sick (pathological) to well (normal) to fit (better than normal). These include but are not limited to blood pressure, cholesterol, heart rate, body fat, muscle mass, flexibility, and strength. It seems as though all of the body functions that can go awry have states that are pathological, normal, and exceptional and that elite athletes typically show these parameters in the exceptional range. The CrossFit view is that fitness and health are the same thing. It is also interesting to notice that the health professional maintains your health with drugs and surgery each with potentially undesirable side effect whereas the CrossFit Coach typically achieves a superior result always with side benefit vs. side effect.
Examples of CrossFit exercises
Biking, running, swimming, and rowing in an endless variety of drills. The clean & jerk, snatch, squat, deadlift, push-press, bench-press, and power-clean. Jumping, medicine ball throws and catches, pull-ups, dips, push-ups, handstands, presses to handstand, pirouettes, kips, cartwheels, muscle-ups, sit-ups, scales, and holds. We make regular use of bikes, the track, rowing shells and ergometers, Olympic weight sets, rings, parallel bars, free exercise mat, horizontal bar, plyometrics boxes, medicine balls, and jump rope. There isn’t a strength and conditioning program anywhere that works with a greater diversity of tools, modalities, and drills.
What should I eat?
In plain language, base your diet on garden vegetables, especially greens, lean meats, nuts and seeds, little starch, and no sugar. That’s about as simple as we can get. Many have observed that keeping your grocery cart to the perimeter of the grocery store while avoiding the aisles is a great way to protect your health. Food is perishable. The stuff with long shelf life is all circumspect. If you follow these simple guidelines you will benefit from nearly all that can be achieved through nutrition.