CrossFit means many different things to many different people; some are profound while others have inklings of relevance. The multitude of meanings CrossFit connotes is as varied as the movements in the sport itself. CrossFit seems to induce a “flight-or-fight” response in some newcomers in that they either fear the difficulty of it or see it as some sort of Spartan-esque arena of fitness combat. Within these two polarities you will find the majority of your community because each member has a hybrid of these two emotional states. Their fear is based on a lack of knowledge, and their competitive drive lies within each of them in some form.

It is crucial that you create a strong sense of the essence of CrossFit and how it is meant to be used. You often hear the statement: I can’t do CrossFit; I will get hurt. This is a fallacy that is a clear sign of someone who does not understand the “essence” of what we are doing. Just as we would not get in our car and drive 180 mph around tight turns to emulate a NASCAR driver, we would not take such liberties with our bodies.

CrossFit is an exercise methodology that is geared at developing a certain completeness in the body while correspondingly promoting a grander sense of self-actualization. CrossFit isn’t just for the Spartan warrior in the arena; rather, it is for everyone. It is for the working professionals and stay at home parents (who have the most important job); it is for mom and dad, grandma and grandpa, and even for young children. CrossFit is about systemic wellness and improving morale. The essence of CrossFit is collective, universal improvement in both a physical and mental sense.

Beyond the philosophical elements of the sports lies real, practical science. CrossFit tackles three main domains of fitness: weightlifting, gymnastics and mono-structural exercise. The weightlifting consists of bother absolute strength (squats, deadlifts, press) and dynamic strength (snatch, clean and jerk). The gymnastics element is comprised of all bodyweight movements that consist of both open (the hand and foot are not in a fixed position) and closed chains (the hand and the foot are in fixed positions). The mono-structural work consists of running, rowing, biking, etc. Now each of these things can be studied in isolation and improved over time; however, what makes our sport so unique is that it incorporates a variety of structural responses through a creative mixture of these modalities. Unlike other realms of fitness, movement efficiency is perpetually stressed throughout practice and implementation. Also, CrossFit uses timing as a major component of achieving stimulus. CrossFit seeks to improve work capacity across broad time and modal domain (Coach Glassman). Each of the general physical fitness skills are factored in the creation of programming and development of each member of the community: cardio respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance and accuracy.

So, how is this used for the masses, not for the 1 percent who are competing for the fittest in the world? The method of addressing the unique needs of each member of your community depends a great deal on the acuteness of you as a coach and your staff. You must assess and adapt constantly. Your programming is never carved in stone and must vary by intensity, volume and movement capability. The only concern of a quality coach is that the person in front of them progresses appropriately within his or her ability level and structural makeup.

Within the friendly confines of CrossFit Milford, each person that starts must first go through a functional movement screen that dictates their stability and mobility. We then look to verbally screen all members with simple conversation to get a good understanding of who they are and where they come from. This allows us to prescribe proper “homework” that each person needs to do. These tasks range from mobility exercises to focus work on weak areas. This is an individualized program and based on the specific needs of the athlete.

Following the screening, the athlete will either enter our “ramp” program or work directly with an athletic trainer. The ramp program is a scaled program that allows newcomers to get acclimated to a new level of activity. Also in this first path, we go over proper lifting technique and loading parameters. The group on ramp last three weeks, and the personal training is five sessions.

Once the athlete transitions into regular classes, he or she will have the opportunity to pursue three different programming levels ranging from intermediate to advanced. The fitness path is for those who need to focus on structural integrity, balance and development in different planes of movement. This is usually for those who have little to no fitness experience. The second path is the performance track, which is very similar to regular CrossFit programming. We will still look at planes of movement, muscular balance, volume and loading over head, as well as flexion and extension of the hip and knee. Finally, the competitive path is for those who want to compete in the sport of CrossFit. This is an extensive, periodized plan for the CrossFit opens, regionals and/or the games. Further, we have had a tremendous amount of success working with athletic teams of all ages and levels. This break from traditional weight and calisthenics improves their overall physical preparedness as well allows for a superior form of specialization.

CrossFit is truly for everyone; however, you must do your due diligence and see how a particular gym meets your needs. Think about what you want to accomplish and seek out the coaches and see if they can articulate a clear plan for improving your overall wellness. Ask questions and expect solid, practical, cohesive responses. Finally, find a place that you are comfortable and provides you with a sense of community.

Welcome to CrossFit.