CrossFit craze an intense workout requiring caution

by | Feb 13, 2015 | Life

Christina McAllister

Life Reporter

Fran, Murph, Linda and Grace.

No, these are not the names of grandparents. These are the names of popular CrossFit workouts, or workout of the day (WOD), as they are commonly called. Who would have guessed Linda was also known as the three bars of death?

CrossFit, which combines Olympic weight lifting with high intensity circuit training, has taken the fitness world by storm. With more than 7,000 gyms worldwide, however, this exercise has also garnered a lot of criticism and raised safety concerns.

A study published by the American Council on Exercise found individuals who participate in CrossFit classes exercise above their anaerobic threshold.

This means they are pushing themselves beyond what is considered safe by healthcare professionals.

The same study warns the competitive nature of Crossfit, and its emphasis on completing the WOD quickly, compromises good form, which could ultimately lead to injury.

The primary author of the study, John Porcari, said individuals’ fitness levels need to be properly evaluated before beginning CrossFit. Beginners should not be doing the same workouts as more advanced clients.

But this has not consistently been the case.

Shelly McDonald, host of the show Caribbean Workout and personal trainer, said too many injuries occur with CrossFit.

“There has been a lot of irresponsible training and it’s given me a bad impression,” she said.

It’s important that trainers have the ability to assess the needs of each client and not group them in with more advanced athletes, McDonald said.

She said the wrong people are becoming trainers.

“It’s too cookie-cutter right now and they can’t all be great instructors,,” McDonald said.

According to McDonald, most trainers are not specifically CrossFit certified.

“But it’s not all bad,” said McDonald. There are benefits to the exercise if performed correctly, she said.

Humber graphic design student Melissa Szilagyi said she enjoyed the CrossFit class she participated in but thought the instructor neglected her.

“It’s efficient, but I don’t think it’s the best kind of workout,” she said. “They don’t focus on your technique, they focus more on strength and not actually helping you get the technique right, they do things as fast as possible.”

Despite feeling neglected, Szilagyi said she would try it again because she liked the intensity and the CrossFit culture.

High-intensity, interval-training workouts like CrossFit are extremely effective if practiced responsibly, said Porcari.

“The formula to get fit is there. It’s just a question of finding the right trainer,” said McDonald.

“You will lose weight and you will get fitter. You can even get a cardio response from that kind of training. So there are definite benefits from it,” she said.