Twenty-one years in the human parable represent the age of a young individual, but for CrossFit Inc. from Santa Cruz, California, that’s been enough time to revolutionize the world of fitness.
The method, in the form of licensing, was created by Greg Glassman who is an American ex-gymnast that with this innovative ideas about training gave a new creation to the wellness industry.
If before Glassman the giant gyms filled with costly equipment were dominating the market, now the small and Spartan places of sweat and fatigue have become a must-have that invaded the United States first and now has around 12.000 affiliates worldwide. In every corner of the world, from New Zealand to South Africa to Argentina to Norway, and even in the innermost lands of Altai, in desolate, rural territories of Russia, you can find CrossFit gyms in which you can do efficient, high-intensity interval workouts using barbells, kettlebells, and small weights.
It’s a golden business if you think that just to use the logo every affiliated training center has to pay from 3.000 to 4.000 dollars a year, to which is added the business of training that’s obligatory for the instructors that’s worth a minimum of 1.000 dollars per person for a weekend.
- The CrossFit brand was founded by Greg Glassman and Lauren Jenai in 2000.
- The affiliate centers have a license to use the brand but manage themselves autonomously.
- CrossFit is considered to have a net worth of 4 million dollars.
The reasons for an international success
The CrossFit project was inspired by the idea to diffuse a training model that could be adapted for everyone and based on research, competency, and, above all, passion. If you read articles written by the founder you will find a great love of movement and research in the motory field that translate into workouts that are highly motivating, heterogeneous, and engaging. Very few pauses between exercises, completeness and totality of gestures, the right amount of technicality and fatigue make this activity appetizing for both a young athlete as for an elderly person who wants to affront new challenges or simply get out of a state of motory inefficiency.
In CrossFit, the body is seen as a tool that needs to be restructured in a complete way until it’s able to give it’s best while doing everyday movements and can reinstate new trust in the capabilities of that person.
In the workouts there are three basic principles taken into consideration:
- Constant attention to the ten basic physical skills that are widely recognized by movement physiologists: cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, endurance, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance and precision.
- Athletics intended as a general preparation that’s capable of dealing with even the widest spectrum of motor stimuli.
- Constant engagement of the three energy production systems: anaerobic lactacid and aerobic. With the tendency of the latter to work with interval training to try to preserve strength, speed, and power as much as possible
- Allenamenti in linea con una corretta nutrizione e stili di vita.I
- I principi fisiologici del movimento si fondono con una chiara idea di fitness e con il sogno di un corpo più funzionale per persone migliori.
- Sollevamento pesi, ginnastica e focus sugli schemi motori di base sono la triade di elementi attraverso i quali si incrociano (da qui il termine Cross) le contaminazioni motorie che contraddistinguono la disciplina.
Differences in regards to traditional gyms
The structure of CrossFit centers is decisively different from that of traditional gyms. The work spaces are open and characterized by a rubber floor that can handle falls and preserves the equipment from falls and chafing. No rows of treadmills and bicycles, equipment that limits the freedom of movement, design lights and modern furniture, but spaces where you can breathe the air without any frills of the Box and where everything is intended to help the client regain their dignity in their contracted and vigorous bodies. The only structure that has large dimensions is the Rig, a sort of metal scaffolding, simple but carefully studied to avoid injuries, where athletes can perform pull-ups, rest barbells, and perform exercises in suspension with climbing ropes and rings.
Often the socialization in the traditional gyms is experienced in the common areas while recovering, in the clouds of the sauna or at the bar, between a smoothie and a plate of tofu; instead, at CrossFit, the relationship that is created between people is more like the healthy and long-lasting ones of teammates. Just like in competitive sports, it’s the fatigue and the challenge that unify the CrossFitters; they suffer and grow together even if they don’t wear the same shirt, or are the same age, even if they challenge themselves for different reasons. During trainings there’s no time for useless chattering, at most they cheer on, help morally, and support each other since what matters is to be able to do it, stay strong, and give they best that you have.
- If opening a Globo Gym (traditional gym) you can’t imagine investing more than 200.000 dollars, for a CrossFit Center (Box) a 30 to 80.000 dollar investment could be enough.
- Often times the owners of these centers are ex clients that are passionate about the method and values, after years of working out and training they’ve become an Owner. They’ve changed their life and have made their passion their work.
- The sense of belonging to the community for those who practice this discipline is very strong and represents one of the many success factors of this business and of its international diffusion of the method.
Routine is the enemy of growth
The human body and mind tend to adapt to the status quo. This is why all of the CrossFit affiliates in the world, every day, receive from the Santa Cruz offices the WOD (Workout of the Day), the daily workout that’s always different, unpredictable and new.
One of the principles that’s the basis of the CrossFit philosophy can be synthesized with a slogan “Our specialty is not to be specialized”. The strongest person on earth, but in general, one must always be prepared and the best preparation is that which allows you to affront the most varied motor exercises with a remarkable plasticity, and this is why the CrossFit Games contains very different tests from those that are practiced in the gym, like swimming and biking. In CrossFit, there is no repetition because routine is the enemy of progress and a broad adaptation.
- WOD is a different, daily workout.
- At the CrossFit Games, the tests are made public only a few hours before the race.
The message inside the soul of CrossFit
In some posts made by the founder I found some that highlight a certain frustration relative to the fact that triathletes are considered the fittest athletes on the planet. According to him, every specialization that has a repetitive and prolonged action, like running or cycling, reduces in an inacceptable way the qualities of strength, power, and speed, making it difficult to declare these athletes as the people most in shape from a general fitness point of view.
I personally practice and love the triathlon, however, I fully share the same point of view and I’ll share a short story that happened to me. Some time ago I was in charge of coordinating a photo shoot with an internationally renowned triathlete who I will not mention their name for obvious reasons. At a certain point, I needed to take a photo from below while the athlete would have to make a small jump from a wall of about 30 cm. I’m not sure if it was because they were afraid of injury or because, not being used to this action, they didn’t want to risk appearing clumsy, but whatever the reason for refusing to do the action was, it came naturally to me to reflect on the type of extreme specialization that their body had adapted to and I didn’t like this idea.
Now, remembering that event, I connect it with a dream of an education in movement that simultaneously develops as many conditions and motor qualities as possible.
In an era where human kind is required to be increasingly specialized in their professional life to the detriment of a possible and increasingly widespread incompetence in regards to other things, the dream of CrossFit seems to me like a new light and has a high level of symbolic value.
I feel like I bring home a profound message from this discipline. After all, it teaches us to be physically prepared in a well-rounded manner, since the stimuli of the external world are always more unpredictable: I hope that this teaching can be modeled in real life.
To affront the challenges of the future, the world needs people who are sufficiently skilled in many aspects and relationships in place of individuals who are super specialized in just a few areas and unknowingly incompetent in others.
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