Monday, April 19, 2010

Crossfit Newbie

(Crossfit Muscle-up at Santa Cruz facility)

On Saturday afternoon, my pal over at Urbanfitt, Jane Clapp, invited me to try out a Crossfit session at The Academy of Lions facility in downtown Toronto. I was keen to give it a go, as I have read so many positive and negative reports on this style of fitness - I wanted to forge my own opinions.

As we sat in the car waiting for the class to start, slurping on our javas, we see our instructor for the day, Sara-Clare, screaming encouraging CF participants who were struggling down the sidewalk with a kettlebell in each hand - it was like something out of Full Metal Jacket! This was going to be interesting!!!

I loved Sara-Clare, she had the perfect energy and knowledge to make this a memorable class.  This is how the class was broken down:
300 reps skipping
pvc tube shoulder mobility exercises 
10 leg swings forward/back each side
10 legs swings across body each side

my thoughts: loved the pvc tube shoulder mobility exercises, one called figure 8 was amazing.

dynamic session:
10 kipping pull-ups
10 dips using the rings
10 sit-ups - using a round mat to support lower back

my thoughts: if the exercises were out of your scope, resistance bands were used. I tried kipping and it was surprisingly tough!! It certainly didn't feel like cheating, but rather a totally different exercise to regular pull-ups.  I think I could have lived without the sit-ups even with the lower back support. I am just not a fan anymore!

the workout:
3 - 5 rounds of
20 kettlebell swings
15 box jumps
10 sit-ups
5 burpees

my thoughts: This was tough!  I wasn't on top form starting the session, but still tried my best. Completing 5 rounds felt great and the instructors were really encouraging.

We all have people we look up to and the fitness & strength professionals who I admire have pretty strong views on Crossfit because of its programming, claiming it to be senseless and random - and ultimately unsafe.


Alwyn Cosgrove notes that this "all over the place" programming can be dangerous:
"A recent CrossFit workout was 30 reps of snatches with 135 pounds. A snatch is an explosive exercise designed to train power development. Thirty reps is endurance. You don't use an explosive exercise to train endurance; there are more effective and safer choices.
"Another one was 30 muscle-ups. And if you can't do muscle-ups, do 120 pull-ups and 120 dips. It's just random; it makes no sense. Two days later the program was five sets of five in the push jerk with max loads. That's not looking too healthy for the shoulder joint if you just did 120 dips 48 hours ago."

Mike Boyle adds, "I think high-rep Olympic lifting is dangerous. Be careful with CrossFit."

And here's Charles Poliquin: "If you try to do everything in your workout, you get nothing. CrossFit is different, and maybe even fun for some people, but it's not very effective. No athlete has ever gotten good training like that."

The WODs come straight from CF headquarters, but it's up to individual trainers to decide how they're used. Many of these trainers are officially certified by CrossFit, but that means less than it seems. For $1,000, you can earn CrossFit's Level 1 certification in a single weekend course. (Level 2 costs $500, and subsequent certifications cost $250.) That includes lectures and hands-on demonstrations, but no written test.
No one argues that CrossFit workouts aren't challenging. They sure as hell are. The question is over the disconnect between "hard" and "smart." The truth is that every veteran strength coach I interviewed who's familiar with CF had serious reservations about its programs.

Click here to read the rest of this article from tmuscle.


I won't be joining the Crossfit community for the following reasons;

  • even though I loved my workout, but I don't love the lack of structure - I like to program my workouts and see results over the 4-6 week period. 
  • Its too bloody expensive
  • I think maintaining that type of workout 5 x per week is just not maintainable.  I don't see anywhere in the program that leans towards hypertrophy, the need to build lean muscle mass.
but that doesn't mean this method of training is not for you, just make sure;
  • you find a method of exercise that works for you, do it, if something doesn't, drop it.
  • if something injures you, either you're doing it wrong (therefore learn to do it properly) or it's not for you, either currently or at any stage in your training. Always make sure you trust and believe in the instructor. Are they safe? Are they educated?
  • just because someone else doesn't agree with what you are doing does not mean that they have no valid opinions. You can still learn from them.


  1. This post is so bang on and in line with my analysis and experience of the class as well. I love Sara-Clare as a coach, a motivator and an instructor! I really liked the dynamic warm-up with the poles and even bought some yesterday. There were some great things I took away. Great times with a fun workout buddy Amanda.

  2. Good for you knowing that this is not for you.


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