Is it for you?

With CrossFit being mentioned on The Biggest Loser and broadcast on ESPN, more and more people are starting to talk about it. The comments that we hear range from “this is the greatest thing I have ever done” to “that is only for athletic people” to “that looks scary and dangerous”. With such a wide range of comments, it is hard to know what to believe. We at CrossFit King of Prussia feel that it is up to you to decide, but we feel compelled to arm you with all of the facts before you make your decision.

When you talk to people that have seen a CrossFit style workout, the most common adjectives that come up again and again are non-mechanical (meaning they do not see any machines), different and intense. These words are perfect descriptors and we wanted to give each of them some attention.

  • Non-mechanical: CrossFit translates this to mean “functional”. Whenever you watch any infomercial, people are saying functional repeatedly but two things should come to mind…are they truly functional and what does functional actually mean. We feel that everything cannot be functional because if it is, the word loses all meaning. CrossFit defines functional using the following metrics
    • Natural…it is in our DNA like a dog wagging their tail. We do them without thinking about it.
    • Universal recruitment pattern…they are everywhere, if you drop something; you perform a deadlift to pick it up, when you sit on the toilet, you squat.
    • Essential…these movements defend against decrepitude. It is only when you cannot get up when you fall that you need to go to a nursing home. Decrepitude is the leading cause of loss of quality of life.
    • Whole body work…these movements are a symphony in motion. They originate at your core and progress outward, thereby working your entire body as a unit, which best mimics real life
    • Compound, yet irreducible. By working the body as a whole unit, you get benefits that you simply cannot achieve by performing multiple isolation exercises commonly found in a gym.
    • Safe…but this is a comparative term…safe in comparison to non-functional movements. Evolution has necessitated the movements we perform; they were not invented by anyone. An elliptical makes you strong in muscles that are not used the other 23 hours of your day. Some people note that as intensity goes up, form will eventually drop off and this is true…however, we can continually push that boundary through threshold training which is a principle of CrossFit and a mandate with good coaching. Intensity and safety are NOT at odds with one another.
    • Capable of generating power…exercise science equates power to intensity and functional movements simply have no equal
  • Different: CrossFit translates this to mean “constantly varied”. Gone are the days of doing the same routine over and over again. Not only is it boring, but it leads to limited results. Real life is not routine and the activities/situations that you may be exposed to on a daily basis are constantly changing…in duration, in temperature, in time of day…why would you not want to prepare for that?
  • Intense: Observers hit it right on the head with this one. CrossFit is intense, but the level of intensity if different for everyone. An 18 year old freshman athlete may be able to push a lot harder than our 80 year old clients but we expect both of them to push as hard as they can. The reason for this is that research is showing that intensity is the independent variable most commonly associated with the maximum rate of return of favorable adaptations. What does this mean? It means that ANYTHING you would want to be associated with a fitness program, whether it be lower heart rate, fat loss, muscle gain, lower cholesterol, whatever…that intensity will get you there faster and more efficiently than anything else that you can possibly do. That being said, it is important to remember that CrossFit is UNIVERSALLY SCALABLE. This means that everything we do can and will be scaled to your current athletic level. Everyone can do CrossFit.

So, you may be thinking to yourself, well if I just need to mix things up and do movements that have been around for hundreds of thousands of years as intense as I can, why isn’t everyone doing it? The reason is simple…it hurts. We will not lie to you and tell you that CrossFit is easy. In fact, it only gets harder. The easiest workout you do is your first. However, we are a community of people that are not opposed to hard work to get the results we desire. Nothing worth having in life comes easy and our gym members respect that and thrive on that. We push ourselves and each other to places we never thought we would be able to go and the feeling of success when you get there is addictive and only breeds more success. Our specialty is not specializing and we are proud of that. We will never have a 4 minute mile and we will never have a 900 pound back squat and we do not care. CrossFit, by nature, is a general physical preparedness program. You may never be the best at any one activity, but you will be very good at an abundance of activities. You will become fit.

CrossFit defines fitness as the ability to do more work across a range of time and activities. Pursuing this goal necessitates working on 10 primary physical skills: cardiovascular endurance, strength, stamina, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, agility, accuracy and balance. The movements that we perform touch as many of these skills as possible and we feel that by improving in all of them, we will improve our level of fitness. We do not scorn specialists (4 minute milers, etc) but we feel that in order to obtain their level, they have lost much more than they have gained. For example, if you back squat 900 pounds, your mile time is most likely a walk and if you can run a marathon in 2 hours, picking up a heavy bag of groceries may be a chore. These pronounced deficiencies in activities outside of their specificity lead us to believe that they are not prepared for whatever life may throw at them and by definition, not fit.

Finally, we would be remiss if we did not mention nutrition. A significant portion of how you look and feel is related to what you put in your mouth. Healthy eating is a staple of any CrossFit gym and our philosophy can be summed up very nicely as eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Realize that you have been eating longer than you have been walking so changing your diet is not easy. We appreciate this and understand that it is a lifelong endeavor. Again, something worth having rarely comes easy.

We strongly feel that sickness, wellness and fitness exist on one continuum. When you are fit, you need to pass through wellness before reaching sickness. CrossFit is a fitness program that creates a substantially large buffer between sickness and fitness. We create this buffer by performing constantly varied functional movements at high intensity. What we do is not easy, nor do we want it to be. We are a community of like minded individuals that appreciate the meaning of sacrifice to meet our goals, whether they be preparing for college sports, to complete an ironman, to be able to dance with your daughter or son at their wedding or to be able to pick up your grandchildren when you are older. We all have goals, we help each other in achieving those goals and we celebrate as a gym. We are CrossFit, we hope you join us!

CrossFit KoP