To CrossFit or not to CrossFit…is that the question?
Disclaimer: I am not a certified CrossFit coach, nor am I a licensed Physical Therapist. I am, however, a novice CrossFitter and a 1st year DPT student. Oh, and I also have a Bachelors Degree in Kinesiology from Texas A&M University (whoop). My opinions are just that…opinions, so take them for what you will. Some of you may have read the title of this and thought “Great…another CrossFit article”.
Well, this is not that at all. This is about how I found my way to getting active. I have a very long history of being a extremely lazy, I am sure many people will attest to that. I used to find an excuse to get out of just about anything, not just things related to activity. I have no problem admitting it, and I still am lazy at times, but the difference is I know the cost of being inactive. Information about recommended physical activity and it’s benefits to overall health is very well researched and backed by evidence. It is everywhere: on the internet, in books, in magazines, etc. Getting physically active is not the only thing that is important to a healthy lifestyle, obviously. A healthy diet and participation in social activities play a role as well. However, as a future physical therapist, activity is something I feel comfortable speaking about. It is something I have struggled with myself. As a precursor, I wanted to share some of the best benefits of physical activity:
Move Forward PT is an awesome resource for more information about benefits of physical activity (yes, I am biased, but it really is an excellent resource). A general recommendation for physical activity is 30 minutes of moderate exercise 5 days a week (about 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week). So, why all of the rambling about physical activity? Well I am a believer in practicing what you preach, so I wanted to share a little bit about how I became more active.
My journey with CrossFit began about 5 years ago. I first started going to a CrossFit gym (box) the summer before my freshman year of college. I stuck with it for about 2 months then I left for school. I tried to get involved in a CrossFit box at school, but it was too much money for a jobless undergrad, #brokecollegelife. I know I know… excuses, excuses. I started going to the Rec and I would meander around the weight room focusing on different muscle groups each day. It was a much more passive form of exercising and I never really saw myself reaching goals or gaining strength. Between the two (going to the Rec vs. CrossFit) I enjoyed CrossFit much more. I felt like I was able to accomplish more in going to CrossFit. I think this is partially due to the structure that CrossFit provided. To reach my goals, I needed more structure than wandering around the Rec.
Unfortunately, toward the end of my time as an undergrad I felt like I shouldn’t participate in CrossFit. I had physical therapy school on my horizon and I was trying to immerse myself in the PT world. I came across many comments along the lines of “CrossFitters give job security to PTs”…okay? So do people who are trying to restore movement and function, reduce pain, and prevent disability. I also knew many people who didn’t like CrossFit because they saw it as a fitness fad or thought it was too unsafe. I can understand how safety and injury can be a concern, but lifting weights in general can lead to increased risk of injury without proper lifting techniques or supervision for those new to resistance training.
I just didn’t understand why there was so much negativity around a form of physical activity…so why does CrossFit get such a bad rap? CrossFit is one of the many popular forms of physical activity…others include: walking, running, cycling, HIIT training, Boot Camp, Yoga, Pilates…the list goes on and on. Being active should not be frowned upon…it should be encouraged! I mean really look at ALL those benefits… (see info graph above)
Coming to PT school, I finally realized what is really important…living an active and healthy lifestyle and reaping all the benefits of it! I can truly say that I feel happier and healthier when I am more active. I have more energy, I sleep better at night, and I have more overall motivation. So, why should it matter to people how I am staying physically active as long as I am doing it?
Being active and exercising has numerous benefits like improving physical, mental, and social health. SO the question is NOT “to CrossFit or not to CrossFit”…the real question is “to be physically active or not to be physically active”. The time is now to take control of your health. Any person of any age can start…it’s never too late. So, if CrossFit is what gets you active, go do it! Maybe you’re more of a runner or a biker and the weight room is not your thing, that’s cool too! It could be as simple as walking 30 minutes a day. Do whatever activity makes you happy and feel good. Do something that you will stay motivated to participate in and give yourself a better quality of life. The point is that you are doing something. We all have to start somewhere.
References: https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/resources/factsheets.html, http://www.acsm.org/about-acsm/media-room/news-releases/2011/08/01/acsm-issues-new-recommendations-on-quantity-and-quality-of-exercise, http://www.moveforwardpt.com/resources/detail/physical-activity
*Please remember to seek approval from a medical doctor to exercise if you have an existing conditions