The benefits of CrossFit and how to get started

For an outsider, CrossFit can feel like a sport that is reserved for hardcore fitness enthusiasts. It’s a multifaceted activity that involves many techniques and it can be intimidating for any beginner. Fortunately, beneath the surface is a welcoming community that is open to anyone regardless of age or gender. There are classes and sessions oriented to any skill level with instructors that are ready to push and guide you towards your fitness goals. As with any activity, the more work you put in, the greater results you can achieve. However, before you get started it’s very important to develop a good foundation of knowledge and research so you can safely build towards long term results. 

In this article our Physiotherapists, Andrew Sabarre and Gretchen McLennan, provide their insight on the benefits of CrossFit and how to safely get started with the sport. They are both avid CrossFit enthusiasts and their perspective can be very valuable for those looking to get into the sport.

What attracted you to CrossFit?

Gretchen: 

The constant challenge, from gymnastics skills to long gruelling workouts that test my mental and physical strength. What really hooked me was the strong sense of community and coaching. CrossFit North Vancouver is a family of people striving, competing and consistently supporting each other to be the best they can be in all facets of life. 

Andrew: 

I was looking for something that would challenge me in building strength, power, and versatility for sport.

How can CrossFit affect your muscle groups compared to a conventional gym workout?

Gretchen:

CrossFit uses the combination of HIIT (high intensity interval training) and METCON (metabolic conditioning) to maximize strength and cardiovascular performance. HIIT workouts provide similar fitness benefits as conventional endurance workouts (increased cardiovascular health, decreased blood pressure and improved aerobic and anaerobic fitness to name a few) but in a shorter time frame. Another benefit is you tend to burn more calories after the HIIT workout is over compared to conventional exercise.

Andrew:

CrossFit involves a plethora of different movements ranging from gymnastics, power lifting, olympic lifting, plyometrics and calisthenics. When you mix all these movements up - you're able to build the various systems in the body to make you a well rounded athlete. Also, programming by coaches ensures that there is a purpose to your training on a macro scale. It's not the same as just doing the same routine at the gym everyday. When it comes to programming, very few of us have the time and knowledge to put something together that will work.  

Advice for people looking to get into CrossFit

Gretchen:

  1. Do your research and find a gym with credible and knowledgable coaches.
  2. Don't be intimidated by it, absolutely every movement or skill is modifiable.
  3. If you are at all worried about your readiness for starting CrossFit other HIIT type workouts, get assessed by your physiotherapist and let them know you are interested in pursuing those goals, and we will help get you there.

Andrew: 

Find a CrossFit gym that has great, qualified coaches and that invests in their gym, not cutting any corners. After that, trust your coach's programming.  

How can you reduce the risk of injury?

Andrew:

Check your ego at the door. Progress slowly, even though the temptation and likelihood of fast progression is there. Finally, listen to your body. If you feel something get it sorted out quickly otherwise you'll end up dealing with it for much longer that you'd like.

CrossFit can provide an amazing full body workout that can challenge you to push your limits. The knowledge and support from coaches and the community is also a very important and beneficial part of this sport. Both Andrew and Gretchen agree that finding a high quality CrossFit gym that has experienced coaches and a developed program will be crucial to your safety and long term physical development. 

If you have any questions about how to safely start an involved workout program like CrossFit or any High Intensity Interval training, please feel free to reach out to us at Pivotal Health. Our team can help with proactive and preventative guidance so you can safely and successfully pursue your physical endeavours.