CrossFit: Cult or Culture?
If you asked me last year my opinion on CrossFit, it was unlikely going to be a good one. I will admit it, I judged it before I attempted it myself. I based my opinion simply on the fact of seeing more and more CrossFit athletes in rehab. What I failed to realize is that the sport is becoming increasingly popular and that they are some of the most in-tune to their body and dedicated athletes I have had the pleasure of working with. Was it really that CrossFit athletes get injured more, or was it they tend to seek treatment when something limits them from performing at their best. I am human, and occasionally a jacka$$ that makes ASSumptions.
I am glad to say that I have been enlightened to not only attempt a CrossFIt WOD (Workout of the Day), but now regularly train at CrossFit Diversion. I have been training there for 6 months now, injury free. Does that mean I will never be injured as I continue to train? Absolutely, not. Unfortunately, injuries happen in every single type of training or sport. A 2014 study by the Orthopedic Journal of Sports Medicine determined the injury rate with CrossFit was less than 20% which is comparable to all other recreational and competitive sports. “Injury rates in CrossFit are comparable with established injury rates for other recreational or competitive athletes, with an injury profile resembling that of gymnasts, Olympic weight lifters, and power lifters.” (Weisenthal, 2014). The study also reported a significantly less injury rate with superior coaching from CrossFit trainers, emphasizing the fact of finding a gym with excellent coaches. I am blessed to learn and work under some of the best coaches I have ever seen and believe me I have met a ton. I can say I probably mess up an exercise each time I go, and every time I get corrected. The key to staying injury free are listening to your coaches, understanding your limits (and know it takes to progress), completing your prep-work/warm up before all your exercises and listening to your body (if something is not right talk to someone and do not let it persist!).
So comes the question why do I CrossFit? I can easily just train at my clinic, I have all the necessary equipment for just about any workout. The answer is, I do it for the culture. I have heard plenty of people say CrossFit is a cult, once your in you become obsessed and addicted. My response to that is why the hell not. Why not, be obsessed with being in an environment that emphasizes being healthy, getting stronger, eating right and becoming a better you. Why not, fall in love with a community that pushes for you to finish your last reps in an ass-whopping workout or get just as excited as you do when you achieve a PR. I have been involved in competitive sports since I was a little kid. CrossFit is the first training program I have been apart of as an adult which combines the competitive nature of trying to surpass your previous self (or maybe a friendly member or two) and a team environment that are constantly cheering you on. I personally cannot achieve all of that with training at my clinic by myself. And, I have not even mentioned all the other benefits that I have experienced since I started, such as improved focus/concentration/memory throughout the day, improved sleep, more energy to spend time outside of work and with my wife, less difficulty lifting my two surprisingly heavy street signs, and overall just more confidence in everything I do.
Is CrossFit for everyone? Absolutely not. But exercising is. No matter what your situation or condition is, everyone can benefit from regular exercise. Time and time again research continues to support the infinite benefits of exercise. Exercise is the wonder drug and fountain of youth we are all seeking. So, whether you want try CrossFit, or a personal training studio, working with a speed/strength specialist, team sports, powerlifting, or running, just get out there and do it. If you have any questions on whether one type of training would be better for you or not. My piece of advice is test it out (do not be a knucklehead like me) if you fall in love with it and see yourself staying CONSISTENT with it then sign up! If you do not fall in love, move on to the next activity. As for the financial side of things, I can only say your health is you best investment, so yes even though some of these programs cost money, the return you get is priceless. If you ever have any questions or need advice on where to start, who to try out or anything else, reach out to me, I would love nothing more to help send you in the right direction (even if you are not a client of mine, I will still do it, takes me 10 minutes to research things for somebody).
Stay Decent Everyone,
Dr. Jeremy Boyd aka The Decent Doctor
Weisenthal B.M., Beck C.A., Maloney M.D., DeHaven K.E., Giordano B.D. (2014) Injury rate and patterns among CrossFit athletes. Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine 2(4), 2325967114531177.
Dr. Jeremy Boyd PT, DPT, OCS, SCS
Owner of Trifecta Therapeutics: Orthopedic and Sports Rehabilitation Center
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Board Certified Specialist in Orthopedics
Board Certified Specialist in Sports
Adjunct Professor Rowan University: Health and Exercise Science School
Adjunct Professor Rowan College at Gloucester County: PTA Program
102 West High Street, Suite 202, Glassboro, NJ, 08028