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A Brief History of CrossFit

CrossFit has become one of the most popular forms of physical fitness in the last decade. In every city and practically on every corner, there is a CrossFit gym. Just open your Instagram, and if you are into fitness or even if you are not, it’s only a quick search away. One search and you will be flooded with WOD posts left right and center. But where and how did this craze first begin?

Well, it was back in 2000 in Santa Cruz, California, where Greg Glassman and Lauren Jenai pretty much invented a brand new way to workout. It all started back when Greg Glassman was a young gymnast. Other than his typical in the gym training, he found that he got stronger than his teammates when he used dumbbells and barbells to improve his strength training while they were simply using their own body weight to train. As well, he really enjoyed hanging out and bike riding with friends. In fact, he did this so much that he stumbled upon the realization that he could be stronger than his gym friends and be better than his biking friends because he was accumulating a diverse set of skills. This eventually led him to the basics of his eventual CrossFit platform. He began to notice that there was always someone better than him in one sport or area of fitness, but no one that was better across the board. And that’s pretty much what Cross Fit is about. It’s a series of exercises that train different muscle groups while working at high-intensity and on endurance levels.

The initial idea pretty much took off from there. CrossFit is about being strong in various areas of strength and endurance training but not a particular expert in any. In other words, the goal is not to achieve any level of specialized ability but more to gain a higher capacity across several areas.

CrossFit enthusiasts adhere to ten critical physical qualities:

  1. cardiovascular/respiratory endurance
  2. stamina
  3. strength
  4. flexibility
  5. power
  6. speed
  7. coordination
  8. agility
  9. balance
  10. accuracy

It is with these ten qualities that it is how Cross Fit feels you can have the best overall strength and physical fitness.

CrossFit goers are quickly taught that they can build these skills by combining movements from a variety of disciplines. Things like gymnastics, weightlifting, sprinting, high-intensity work, etc…Want to understand the principles of high-intensity training better? Check out our article on this form of exercise HERE.

These movements are done in many repetitions with measurable results each time as a goal. There is also an emphasis on specific weights, specific distances and specific movements over various times. This allows for a clear measurement of performance.

Unlike many other forms of physical fitness and endurance. CrossFit is done in groups. This allows for both individual attention to each person and a sense of community. And the community is enormous in CrossFit. In fact. It’s pretty much a world unto itself. People who start CrossFit tend to quickly become absorbed in the community, a community that encourages them and supports them. It’s truly a group of people that work together to reach the common goal of everyone being the best version of themselves that they can be.

 History Behind the Workouts

CrossFit had always had as a goal to make their workouts simulate the feeling that athletes and fighters would experience during real competition. In fact, this was Greg Glassman’s goal right from the beginning. He wanted to create a workout that made people feel like they, too, were in the ring or at the finish line. He rationalized that if a professional was finishing up but still present in front of judges, the exhaustion they would feel would be real but still controlled. Professionals would never let anyone see how tired they were in case it would risk points in their competition. Athletes often say that the workouts mirror the feeling they have at the end of a competitive event. Police officers have been known to describe a CrossFit workout as similar to pursuing a suspect on foot and fighting him. Fighters will tell you that these Workouts of the Day are similar to the feeling of being in the ring. In his application of this to Cross Fit, he created the short-duration, high-intensity workouts that were designed to achieve these very same goals.

Names of Workouts

One of the most exciting and unique things about CrossFit is how the workouts are named. Instead of calling out, explaining, and expecting his students to remember a list of exercises, Greg Glassman found it easier to name each one simply. Hence how the WOD -Workout of the Day was born.

Each workout of the day has a name, often a female name and each with a specific list of exercises in each one. There’s also Hero WOD’s that represent the military, police, firefighters, etc…Some of the first female names in CrossFit included names like Angie, Elizabeth, Barbara, Chelsea, Diane, and Fran. These workouts were designed to measure improvement through repeated, regular appearance.

The CrossFit Games

The CrossFit Games began and have taken place every summer since 2007. They have become the Olympics of fitness training and the epitome of the CrossFit world. Today they are broadcast on ESPN, and the top prizes are over a million dollars.

Why You Should Try CrossFit and What It Can Do for You

The first and best reason is the physical results that CrossFit yields. High-intensity exercise is known to give better results than any moderate type of activity. More fat is lost during high-intensity workouts, and the human growth hormone is released into the bloodstream. This hormone tells your body to burn fat and build muscle much better than any other type of workout.

The second and perhaps the reason that people stick to CrossFit after they try it is for the social aspect. No matter what your level of fitness is, everyone in the group needs to pull their weight and give their all. It is a known psychological fact that people perform at higher levels when in a group versus alone. Akin to army training, the pack moves together towards a common goal. Not the same fitness goal (weaker athletes lift lighter or modify the exercises) but the goal of getting through the WOD together. Everyone gives their 100%, it’s teamwork at it’s finest. And it actually helps each member to work out harder and stronger than they would have alone or even with a trainer one on one. Intense and tribal in its feeling, it allows everyone to access that innate sense of attack and aggression and put it towards a positive goal.

CrossFit is also one of the only fitness regimes that don’t have physical appearances as an emphasis. No one cares about obtaining a six-pack or bigger muscles. It’s not about the look, it’s about what your body can actually do. How much can you lift? How fast can you move?

For a great visual on precisely what CrossFit is and what it does, check out this video.

The reality is that if you need to start a new physical fitness routine, considering CrossFit should be among your list of options. CrossFit gyms are always eager to welcome new recruits, even if you are unsure about it at first. If you feel that you have tried it all, and CrossFit is your last hope for a workout that will inspire and motivate you, you are in for a treat. One of the best things about CrossFit is that you rarely feel like you are working out! It’s more of a social group that gets together a few times a week to have fun and see how much they can accomplish together. Not to mention that it will get you in the best shape of your life! So, let off some steam, challenge your body, and start CrossFit today! It’s the best exercise choice for this generation!

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