CrossFit is a fitness program developed by Greg Glassman. The program was created in 1999 at the University of California, Davis. According to its website, it’s “a system of exercise designed to improve strength, endurance and flexibility.” The program uses a variety of exercises with varying levels of difficulty. Some of the workouts are called “workouts” while others are called “classes”. A class consists of three or four exercises performed in sequence. There are many different variations of each workout. For example, there may be one-legged squats, single leg deadlifts, lunges, step ups and box jumps. Each class may include up to ten exercises and classes vary from two hours to six days per week depending on your level of participation.
The first edition of the program was released in 1999. Since then, the number of participants has increased dramatically.
According to its website, there were approximately 10,000 members in 2003 and by 2009 there were over 100,000 members worldwide. In 2011 there were 1 million registered users. The CrossFit Games have been held every year since 2004. The games consist of various competitions involving weightlifting, running and other sports.
The sales of CrossFit-branded equipment, clothing and other gear generate annual revenues of more than $4 million. The market for CrossFit-related merchandise is expected to increase to $50 million by 2015.
As of January 2014, there are over 10,000 licensed CrossFit facilities around the world. Collegiate and high school athletic programs have adopted the strength and conditioning aspects of CrossFit for their athletes.
There are several professional CrossFit training centers. One is located in Santa Cruz, California and another in Boston, Massachusetts.
Greg Glassman is the founder of the CrossFit program. His business partner, Lauren Jenai, helps manage CrossFit’s day-to-day operations.
There are six other board members including Charlie Lowe, Russell Greene and Robin Arzón. The company is based in Santa Cruz, California. It was originally located in a warehouse but moved to a multi-million dollar facility in 2008.
CrossFit has been criticized by several medical professionals and health organizations. The American Academy of Pediatrics notes that Crossfit may cause “overtraining, musculoskeletal injury and even rhabdomyolysis.” The National Strength and Conditioning Association recommends that CrossFit be implemented with caution.
A number of serious injuries have occurred at CrossFit facilities. Carlee Tumblety was paralyzed from the neck down in 2009 after performing a series of bench presses.
She was a two-time California regional champion. Tumblety is unable to use her arms and legs. In 2008, an 18-year-old man died after performing a workout at his local CrossFit facility. His death was attributed to congenital heart defects which were undetected.
In 2009, the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office filed a complaint with the California Board of Health against the Santa Cruz CrossFit facility. The complaint states that the company failed to produce several documents including a list of employees, the types of equipment used and a floor plan.
The CrossFit website indicates there are more than 1,000 trainers working in the United States holding CrossFit-specific certification.
The original CrossFit “Affiliate” was CrossFit North in Orem, Utah which was shut down by the owner in February 2005 due to ill-advised extreme workouts. Its replacement, CrossFit GX, also closed down not long after.
CrossFit’s focus on function over form and the high incidence of injury has been a source of criticism by many.
CrossFit: Multiple-Attendance, Low-Cost is a hot topic for many in the health and fitness industry. Many argue that CrossFit teaches bad habits and doesn’t have safety measures in place to protect its participants from injury.
Is it really the next best thing or will it eventually fall to the wayside like other fads?
Only time will tell.
And if you’re one of those people who think CrossFit is too dangerous, you can start by simply doing body weight squats. It’s free, it has no bad side effects and you don’t have to join a gym or try to re-enact an action movie during your workout.
Just put your behind to a chair, get in a squatting position and rise up and down until the burn sets in.
A word to the wise: Next time you see someone do this at your local gym, keep in mind that they’re actually doing something good for their health. The same can’t be said for the guy on the treadmill with a tall can of beer in one hand and a cigarette in the other.
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