More and more CrossFit locations are putting their stakes in the ground. There are currently more than 10 CrossFit options in Howard County alone and, worldwide, there are more than 14,000, compared to only 13 in 2005. This fitness boom doesn’t seem to be slowing.

It’s not just the six-pack-abs set that have become loyal CrossFit followers, but a more diverse group from all walks of life who are finding CrossFit to be a better workout method for them. Not only are they trying it; they are sticking with it.

What Is CrossFit?

CrossFit is a core strength and conditioning program. Workouts are based on functional movements that reflect the best aspects of gymnastics, weightlifting, running, rowing and more. There is evidence-based science behind its methodology.

CrossFit is an open source fitness method with a focus on gathering, analyzing and interpreting data from athletes all over the world. What that means is that, first, it openly publishes its philosophies and prescriptions based on research that its designers have either done or gathered that defines fitness, and gives a prescription on how to make a human as fit as that person can be, and relates that to health. It is grounded in exercise science.

Second, the 14,000 affiliates worldwide — the hundreds of thousands of members at those affiliates — are tabulating the scores of their workouts (everything is scored, either by the amount of work the person did in a specific time domain or by the time it took that person to complete specific work). They submit scores to CrossFit, which are published. So everything is a competition — every day at the gym is a contest to do better. And there are certain workouts that are repeated over and over so that clients can see how they are progressing over time.

Tailored, Defined Methodology

From the data collected, CrossFit headquarters analyzes and publishes results, and the methodology pivots as needed based on these results. This data-driven methodology has shown that CrossFit is one of the best — and safest — ways to condition humans to face life’s challenges.

From high-performing athletes to grandmothers, from those who will face life-threatening situations to those simply faced with everyday tasks, the methodology is universally valuable due to the functional and scalable aspect of the movements. This means using real-world, everyday movements that can be tailored to suit any fitness level, impairment or injury.

Another benefit is the programming. Clients don’t need to wonder what to do when they arrive, or if what they’re doing will actually provide results. There are 10 recognized fitness domains that include: endurance, strength, stamina, flexibility, coordination, agility, accuracy, balance, power and speed. It is important to work on all the different domains, because to be truly fit, one can’t focus on just one or two. Such specialization lacks balance, and creates deficiencies that actually can be detrimental.

Focusing on all 10 offers a bulletproof approach, where clients work in a variety of ways to become truly fit. According to fitness enthusiast Erin Wallace: “I came in [to do CrossFit] with what I thought was a fair level of fitness. This experience proved me wrong — I have a high endurance level, but my strength and balance in particular needed major work. I can see and feel the results in just a few months.”

Fitness Across the Ages

One of the booms in the CrossFit world has been for the age 40-plus population, particularly women. At most CrossFit locations, women have a program specifically designed for them — as a result, their intimidation level and fear is greatly reduced and they excel quickly. They are finding that CrossFit is as much about looking and feeling fit as it is quality of life and hedging against the aging process.
Squatting down properly, lifting groceries, shoveling snow without injury, remaining flexible — all are priorities. And as clients age further, male or female, those needs accelerate, and preventing injury from daily activities is of utmost importance.

Kids have been joining in the fun as well. Many affiliates offer a children’s class taught by specially-trained CrossFit Kids coaches. The programming for these classes is fun and age-appropriate, teaching proper general movement and fostering a love of fitness.
Children involved in other sports see improved performance and fewer injuries. Adolescents and teens that need speed and agility training or pre-season conditioning for their sport of choice also are finding CrossFit training helpful.

The glue that makes it stick for all athletes, however, is the community. Shared adversity truly does bring people together. Pushing hard is what creates the results, and most athlete and fitness enthusiasts wouldn’t push nearly as hard working out alone.

Luke Espe is co-founder and coach at 12 Labours CrossFit Columbia, BWI and Annapolis. He can be reached at [email protected].