What Is CrossFit, Anyway?

Written by Julie Foucher

Photo by RX Smart Gear

Maybe you've seen the CrossFit Games on ESPN, driven by an affiliate where members are lifting barbells and flipping tires down the street, or one of your friends is "drinking the Kool-Aid" and just won't shut up about it—but what exactly is CrossFit, anyway?

CrossFit means many different things to different people. For some, CrossFit is about belonging to a community. To others, CrossFit is a fitness program that has helped them lose weight, improve their health, or look better naked. Still others see CrossFit as a means to improve their functionality in other sports or activities outside the gym.

There is a single definition of CrossFit, however, and that is that CrossFit is constantly varied, functional movements, executed at high intensity. Let's break it down.

Constantly varied

In CrossFit, our specialty is not specializing, and we want to be prepared for any physical task that life may throw our way. As a result, you'll always be on your toes and can expect your workout to look different every day. We incorporate different movements, loads, rep schemes, equipment, and duration of workouts on a regular basis.

Functional movements

We want the fitness you develop inside the gym to transfer to your everyday life. So, the movements we use follow movement patterns that our bodies were designed to do—for example picking an object up off the ground (deadlift), placing something on a shelf above your head (press), or standing from a seated position (squat). Functional movements are derived from the endurance (running, rowing, biking, jumping rope), bodyweight (squats, burpees, pull-ups, push-ups), and weightlifting (barbells, kettlebells, dumbbells) domains.

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High intensity

In short, intensity is what gets us results. All of our workouts are completed as fast as possible, and we record our results so we can track our progress over time. It's important to recognize, though, that intensity is relative to the individual. An elite athlete and your grandmother can do the same workout "at intensity" but it would look very different for each of them.

At the end of the day, CrossFit is all about helping us to improve our fitness so we can build a buffer against sickness and decrepitude, play with our grandkids, and stay out of the nursing home. Now that you know the textbook definition, the best way to truly understand CrossFit is to check out your local affiliate for a first-hand experience. Then it's your turn to decide what CrossFit means to you.

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