Is Crossfit the best overall value in cross-training programs, or is there something better out there? Or is it better to save $ and design your own program?
While not exactly a "Paleo" question, I'm not surprised it popped up.As a Crossfitter trainer, I can easily state it's one of thee best programs out there for general physical preparedness (GPP) and overall functional fitness. I adopted it years back to help with my martial arts conditioning and to keep me in top shape for my job as a firefighter.
Is it for everyone? It can be, but the key is to find a trainer that has either 1) experience above and beyond a simplistic Crossfit level-1 certification, and 2) understands, fully, the needs and goals of their clients as individuals. What's good for a 21 year old MMA athlete may NOT be good for a previously sedentary 50 year old mother of 3.
The beauty of Crossfit is that is is infinitely scalable to fit the individual, and if you find a good coach/affiliate, your programing, coaching, adn safety will be top-notch.
As with any program, though, it has it's drawbacks; while a bit controversial considering my position, I've outline a few of my concerns here: http://confessionsofacrossfitcoach.blogspot.com/2009/12/soapbox-time-some-thing-i-hate-about.html
It really depends. There can be such a difference between gyms (aka boxes) that you can't believe that they are both called Crossfit. Frankly, that is one of the complaints of the Crossfit detractors. No quality control. Some Crossfit people think the open market resolves those issues. I would recommend that you check out 1 or 2 boxes if you can. Alternatively, all the programming is given away for free on the main website. The question is wether or not you will push yourself hard enough.
Access to the combined knowledge of the CrossFit program and its adherents is free, add ~ $20 for the journal subscription.
CrossFit coaching and personal training however, is not free.
I think that is an important distinction.
I'm primarily a runner, and specifically an ultra-distance runner. My experience with 5 months of intense CrossFit (80+ workouts) has been phenomenal with regards to both my general fitness and also my running. I've never run so few miles while making such huge progress.
That said, there are a lot of kooks "out there" so your results may vary! I think it helps that just about everyone at my affiliate (CrossFit Bishop, CA) is an outdoor athlete of some kind, which I think gives our garage a special flavor and focus. Most of us have goals in the outdoors--rock/alpine/ice climbing, trail ultrarunning, backcountry skiing, so forth--so the cookie cutter daily WOD approach is not what we follow.
The only turn off to CrossFit I have in general is that there is so much hyperbole on the community boards sometimes! For instance, someone recently wrote about an athlete who can deadlift 500# AND run a 5:00 mile. But they make no mention of who that person is. It may not be impossible that such a person is out there, but I think when people write this, they owe it to both the community and the athlete to name such a remarkable person. What I have found, however, is that if you ask people for specifics, they go off on a rant about unrelated things, about how they find your lack of faith disturbing, etc. and they never provide the asked for info or training data or anything to back up their claim.
Frankly, that is just weak. But again, all CrossFitters and CrossFit trainers are not created equal. I'd hate to judge a program based on a single person (or even a group), unless I am judging it for me, based on ME, and my results--which so far, have been greater than anything else I've done.
As far as the money goes, a lot of these places are overcharging gratuitously for what they really provide. Again, let the buyer beware. Just because the method brings results doesn't mean the trainer will. Some seem to think elitist pricing will bring elite results. Find out who they train and what they are achieving--they should be ready and willing to share with you--if not, blow them off. The proof must be in the pudding.
I started crossfit on august 8th of this year weighing over 290 pounds. During my first baseline test (500m row, 40 air squats, 30 sit ups, 20 push ups, 10 pull ups) I was able to get 10:41 seconds but it took me around 2 hours for my heart to come back to resting pulse (I think I might have over done it a bit). I signed up for 2 times a week and have been going ever since. I had my baseline retest on Nov 7th and was able to get 7:14 while still having enough energy to do a strength class after it. My weight is down to 235 and body fat percentage 20.2%
How did I get there?
I got there because my "coach" (Jen) has been guiding me through all of the exercises that I thought I used to know from weight training for sports in High School or with friends. She corrects my form when it gets sloppy or answers questions about anything exercise related that I am curious about. She is my support in losing weight and getting into shape.
I've been fortune enough to be in a position where I can afford most any gym in my area. The thing that has made crossfit worth it for me is the team aspect of the classes, the knowledge of my instructors and the guiding principle of form over just getting the weight lifted.
I would never join another gym again and owe what I have learned from my crossfit instructors for my success.
I have several friends who do Crossfit. If it fit my schedule better I would do it.
I think it is worth it. It gives you a group of people to work with. Normally your gym mates and instructors will be very helpful. My two friends who have done both have packed on muscle and are much more fit now.
Give it a try for a month or two.
I have heard a few 'horror' stories from people who have flamed out, too. It is not for everyone.
As mentioned before, the problem with signing up with a Crossfit affiliate is that quality ranges wildly between gyms. If you're a beginner, and looking for a solution that you can easily work into your schedule without too much thought, then a Crossfit affiliate or any other reliable gym (check reviews, go in for a session, see if they are good teachers) will suffice. I enjoyed doing Crossfit, and occasionally cycle it into my training. The benefits of joining a Crossfit gym are in learning the proper ways to do the exercises as to mitigate chances for injuries (understanding the concept of scaling), and to keep one accountable into attending workouts as it is a very social experience.
If you've got a good feeling for the above, making your own workout plan (either based on what they have posted as the WorkoutOftheDay on www.crossfit.com , reading sites such as Keith Norris's Theory to Practice, or trying out Tabata workouts) would definitely be a more affordable route.
In conclusion, is Crossfit the best bang for your buck? I find most cross-training programs to be expensive fitness solutions, but as they [Crossfit] have started incorporating more heavy-weight based workouts to round out their profile, I'd have to say they have an advantage over others. Again, it depends on what your fitness goals are. Crossfit assists one taking their general, semi-technical fitness to the next level.
If by "CrossFit" you mean slavishly following the main page WODs, probably not (unless you're still pretty young and relatively untrained). But in that state, almost any program will benefit you.
CrossFit really is "GPP" (General Physical Preparedness) training. That means it deliberately seeks to get you in pretty good shape for almost anything, but will not get you into truly superior shape for any specific needs. If you have clear and specific sporting goals, then CrossFit may serve you well done in a limited fashion, but you really need to think about long-term development, addressing weaknesses over a period of years with well-planned periodized cycles, and planning for appropriate peaks within each training/competitive year. Following the main page WODs exclusively won't do any of that.
In particular, in my experience (and others), CF can't really prepare you for work that requires long-term effort (multi-hour, multi-day work). If your athletic goals (or your job) requires that, then you'll need to do specific training for that.
But if your goals are less specific than all of that (you just want to feel better and look good naked), and if by "CrossFit" you mean that you'll include more short, high-intensity anaerobic work than the average trainee, and you'll focus predominantly on the big, multi-joint movements (squat, clean, deadlift, snatch) and you'll include a reasonable amount of work where you learn to manipulate your own body in space (pullups, muscle-ups, handstand pushups, and other gymnastics) . . . yes, it's worth it.
Oh, and eat paleo, not Zone, unless you're truly a self-control freak.
I got lucky, found a knowledgeable Crossfit gym and am absorbing info and technique. At 41 years old, this is my first exposure to weight training and intense workouts (met cons). They are doing such a good job, after a while I'll be able to work at home after a while and save some $. I am very glad I ponied up for the training and have been going 3 days a week for 4 months.
The problem I have with my local crossfit box is that they don't seem to have any focus. I know that crossfit is supposed to be GPP and all kinds of wacky stuff but the trainer that owns it is just level 1 certified and doesn't seem to pay attention to individual clients or goals. AMRAPs and metcons are all well and good but I think more strength would benefit more. Specifically I have been going for two and a half months and I have seen no improvement in any of the clients.
That being said, I agree that CrossFit is great for people who want to show up and get their patooty kicked. It generally gives you a great beating. $100 dollars a month for no specific help and the inability to stand up twice a week isn't doing it or me though. I'm going to probably come up with a periodized schedule soon based off crossfit training with more strength involved