Is CrossFit Bad for you?

This week there has been a lot of heat thrown at Jillian Michaels from the CrossFit community. For those who don’t know, Jillian Michaels is not a fan of crossfit and has made it repeatedly known for a couple of years now. Recently she has come out again stating her issues with the training style. I don’t have an issue with people not enjoying CrossFit or saying that the intensity and structure is not for them. Everybody has different goals and everybody will have different limitations that will determine whether they accept crossfit or any training style for that matter. What I do take issue with is the way she presents her issues and as a big name in the fitness industry she seems to miss the point entirely.

I have been working in the fitness industry for over 10 years in some capacity. I enjoy weightlifting and strength training more than the endurance and conditioning training. CrossFit has allowed me to do both while building strength and increasing my work capacity. This doesn’t mean that I think CrossFit is the end all be all fitness program out there. I won’t dismiss any training program. I dismiss people that make claims that clearly are an exaggeration and because they aren’t on par with their brand.

The 3 main issues Jillian Michaels has with CrossFit according to her last post:

  1. The Exercises are too complicated for the average person.
  2. The entry path as a trainer is too simple for a CrossFit Coach.
  3. The Training logic doesn’t make sense.

Let’s just keep focus on these points and formulate a response.

The Exercises are too advanced for the average person.

I understand the gripe entirely. Olympic weightlifting moves and most gymnastics are some of the most complex movements that we can do for our fitness. Does that mean we shouldn’t bother trying to learn them? That they aren’t beneficial to everyday life? Sure snatches and muscle ups are complicated, but that doesn’t mean that in every class we are asking our athletes to put all of the weight on the bar and get it over head or that we are asking them to get up on the rings or else! As a coach and gym owner, it is my responsibility to keep my athletes safe and introduce them to the overall goal, but progress them safely by scaling and modifying the movements to their individual fitness level. 

Prior to any class beginning, the coach always goes over proper technique and is constantly walking around to make sure the athletes are performing the movements to the best of their ability. We don’t just write programs, throw them on the board and hope for the best with our clients. They are with us and continue with us for a reason and it’s because we are providing service to instruct proper mechanics. Of course there are some slacker coaches out there that give us a bad name, but the majority of CrossFit coach’s only want to improve their athletes lives and give them safe effective workouts. 
The athlete also has to understand what they are getting themselves into. This is a strength & conditioning program afterall and there are risks sure. That can be said about any fitness or strength program regardless of whether you call it crossfit or xfit or orange theory or whatever. There is risk in every training program dependent entirely on the athlete and the day. Sometimes we just have bad days and things happen. But with proper Coaching and technique assessment we can ensure safe workouts for our athletes. 

To be clear, yes the workouts are intense and the exercises can be complex, but everything can be modified and the coach should always give proper instruction to the athletes prior to beginning any exercise.

The barrier to entry for a CrossFit Coach is a 2 day seminar and a test.’

This statement is true about most CrossFit Coaches. To be considered a Level 1 Coach and open a CrossFit gym, one of the requirements is that you attend a 2 day trainer weekend and pass a test. During the weekend, future coaches are taken through lectures and practical application of the foundational movements of CrossFit, how to properly assess and cue exercises and some programming and nutritional templates. It is actually very well done and provides a ton of knowledge for the future coach and continuing coaches.

Do you know what the path to entry is for NASM, ACE, CSCS is?

You read a book and pass a test. Or take a completely online course.
There is no required practical, in person application of your skills. There is no requirement to demonstrate you have any idea of how to deal with people. It’s just a book and a test. How is that better than CrossFit?

Of course any logical person understands that taking these tests and weekend seminars is just the beginning. Which means, this is the start of you pursuing a career in fitness. It doesn’t mean you won’t continue to grow and learn. So while the CrossFit certification is a weekend seminar with a test to get you started, the others are less than that. 

This is just the beginning. Keep learning and keep trying to make progress!

The Training Logic and programming doesn’t make sense.

Her final issue is that the programming and training style doesn’t make sense because it is just beating after beating and we only work the same muscles over and over so we never make progress. This is a huge misconception about CrossFit. The entire training system is based on Constantly Varied High Intensity Functional Movements. The entire program of crossfit is to provide the athlete with a full body workout that is useful to their everyday life. Yes we train legs… A LOT, but it’s so much more. Some days focus on power and heavy weightlifting while others focus more on endurance or skill work. Every day is a little different, but we practice similar movements to make improvements and progress with our strength, endurance and everyday life.

The workout she did left her exhausted and she jammed her toe

OK. So the workout in question that Jillian claims was so ridiculous was:

10 to 1 Box Jumps
1 to 10 Burpees

These are 2 dynamic movements that require a little bit of coordination, but it is not overly complicated. For a person of her fitness level and expertise, she should have had NO problem tackling this workout. Sure Burpees suck, but let’s be realistic. If Jillian Michaels, with her decades of training experience and her foamroller balance workouts that she shows off cannot handle this simple combination, then I think she needs to rethink her career choice.

She could have gone with any other workout that would have represented a way more intense version of CrossFit. ‘Fran’ ‘Murph’ ‘Nancy’ ‘Helen’ Anything other than what she chose and I would understand her gripes and say yes some workouts are too complicated for a first timer, but Box Jumps and Burpees? Come on. I don’t believe you had a tough time with that workout and I believe she exaggerated the events to scare people to agreeing with her. Which is NOT cool!

The bottom line is, CrossFit can be intense and sure it’s not for everybody. If you are considering beginning a CrossFit program make sure you find a great gym with great coaches to get you started. It will open your mind to a new way to train and how to be functional everyday. If you don’t enjoy crossfit, that’s ok too! Just do what works for you and move around to the best of your ability! We have 1 life and 1 body! We have to treat it right so we can maximize our life and stay in the game as long as we can!

Stay Healthy, guys! Age is inevitable, but weakness is not so make sure you go out there and lift some sh*t! Thank you for reading.

If you have any questions about CrossFit or Fitness feel free to contact us anytime here at Marble Strength! 



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