Abstract gymnast on rings from splash of watercolors. Vector illustration of paints.

You don’t need to be a fitness junkie to have heard of CrossFit. These days everyone knows at least one person who is singing the praises of CrossFit and telling anyone who will listen just why you “must” give it a try. Just like the people who pray to the gods of P90X, or Insanity, or Cardio Barre . . . and the list goes on. But is it just a fad in passing?

So what exactly is CrossFit and, perhaps more importantly, why all the hype?

Breaking it Down

CrossFit is a conditioning and training workout program that consists of short bursts of everything from calisthenics and plyometrics, to weight lifting and even a few exercises that, well, don’t really have a name.

When I say “short bursts,” I’m not kidding, as you do each unit of exercise for a matter of approximately 20 seconds . . . and then take only 10 seconds rest before moving onto the next exercise. It may not seem like much and you may wonder how 20 seconds of anything could possibly make a difference; but when you consider the high intensity of each exercise it becomes quite clear just how these few seconds are making such a huge impact.

A Typical CrossFit Workout

The workouts are referred to as “WOD” for Workout of the Day. A typical “basic” CrossFit workout could look something like this:

  • Simple warm-up (jumping rope, jumping jacks, jog on the treadmill)
  • 20 push-ups
  • 10 squats
  • 20 burpees
  • 15 pull-ups

You would then repeat this same series of exercises four or five times with a very short rest period in between.

Why All the Hype Over CrossFit?

It’s hard to see why there’s so much hype around a program made up of exercises that your mother may have done to her Richard Simmons videos in the 80s. But there is something to be said for working out that hard and fast, often to the point of vomiting.

The sense of accomplishment along with the proverbial “runner’s high” felt after a CrossFit workout is what’s making this the craze that it is. Tack on some novelty (think any yoga and/or Pilates movement) and add to that the fact that you can never get bored thanks to short intervals and constantly changing exercises, and it’s no wonder that the world is being taken over by this new fitness cult.

If feeling on top of the world because you’ve worked out to the point of nausea isn’t something that appeals to you, you still can’t deny the allure of an effective, high intensity and result-oriented workout that is never the same.

Being able to see results without long and tedious hours spent on a treadmill or elliptical trainer certainly has its draw, as does being able to fit a full workout into an already busy lifestyle. Most of us, busy or not, can spare 30 minutes a few times per week . . . which has a lot to do with CrossFit’s quick and impressive popularity.

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