The CrossFit Workout’s Dirty Little Secrets Reveal That It’s Not What It Seems

cross fit

There are so many great things about the workout craze called CrossFit. CrossFit is fun. You can get a hard workout in a very short period of time. CrossFit emphasizes that it’s okay -- in fact, it’s awesome -- for women to lift heavy weights as well. And yes, CrossFit will get you into shape. Those are all huge pluses for any workout in my book.

But here’s the thing -- I have a problem with CrossFit. Why? Well read on, because there are several reasons CrossFit may not be the best choice for everyone.


CrossFit markets itself as being functional exercise, and I agree that a lot of the exercises they use for the WOD (Workout of the Day) are excellent staples that should be in everyone's strength-training repertoire: squats, deadlifts, overhead press, pull-ups.

But for all their talk about being functional, you know what CrossFit is really making you functional for? For getting better at doing CrossFit. If that's your goal, then you've found the right workout. They even market themselves as "The Sport of Fitness." Now, I LOVE fitness. Fitness is my profession and my passion. But fitness is not my sport. When I work out, it’s to build strength and endurance in specific ways that will make me run faster, or longer, or make it easier for me to carry my kid around and lift him in and out of his crib. I don’t work out to get better at working out. It just seems pointless.

CrossFit is also crazy expensive. Each affiliate has its own pricing system, but you're looking at upwards of $150 a month to take CrossFit classes. And no, you don't get to use the equipment when a class is not in session. But at least you get to take classes with a certified personal trainer, right?

Um ... no, actually. The trainers are CrossFit coaches, not personal trainers. To become a CrossFit coach, you need a minimum of a Level 1 Training Certificate, which takes a grueling two days to complete. I’m talking about 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on a Saturday and Sunday, 16 hours of intensive training in body mechanics, kinesiology, nutrition, correct form, and everything else you need to know. Then you take an exam, and if you pass, congratulations, you can start coaching CrossFit classes.

In contrast, I logged more than 400 hours of study to become a personal trainer, and the exam I had to pass requires me to take regular continuing education classes to remain a certified personal trainer. 

Which brings me to the next issue with CrossFit: it’s a competition.

Those very difficult, intense, and tiring WODs are done for time, and your stats are posted up on the whiteboard with everyone else’s. Now, no one likes to come last, right? So suddenly you’re not just pushing yourself to get through a tough workout in a short period of time. Now you’re trying to do it faster -- and better than the woman next to you.

Guess what’s going to happen when you’re pushing yourself past your limit during a very tough workout, you’re already tired, and the person watching your and 15 other people’s form doesn’t really know what they’re doing? You are going to get injured. You do CrossFit and you haven’t sustained an injury? No, you do CrossFit and you haven’t sustained an injury YET.

I know so many people who love CrossFit. I’ve seen people get into the best shape of their lives, I’ve heard all the rave reviews, and seen the amazing fitness gains. I understand that it’s super fun, and lots of CrossFitters are happy doing it to get better at doing it. I just hope they’re lucky enough to belong to a good affiliate, where the owner and coaches know what they’re doing and have more than the Level 1 training before they’re out there with a group of 15 people doing deadlifts while timed. 

Would you ever try CrossFit? And for those CrossFit lovers -- what's the biggest draw of the workout for you?

Image via CrossFit Fever/Flickr

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