Last night, I was standing around with some of the other trainers at my gym and we were stricken by a scary, scary sight. There was a young man (mid 20's) doing some of the most horrendous barbell hang clean and presses I have ever witnessed. He clearly had joined the "Crossfit Cult" and labeled as 'one of those guys who has no idea what the hell he is doing" Each and everytime he pulled the barbell up to shoulder height, we cringed, and then when he proceeded to throw the loaded barbell over his head, back arched and almost falling over, we cringed even more. I am sure he threw down the barbell thinking how cool he was that he was able to lift that weight. Every single person around him was looking and thinking the same thing. "That guy is going to kill himself" it was one of those situations where you didn't want to watch, but you just keep watching; like a bad accident. The other trainers and I discussed one of us going up to him and suggest some tips or alternative exercises. So one took the bullet and proceeded. He came back and said that this man wanted nothing to do with our suggestions or tip. Nothing at all. This scares me to no end. This guy is certainly going to hurt himself sooner or later.
Let me start by saying I am not hating on Crossfit, in fact I do think it can be a great intense workout once in a while. The issue I have with Crossfit and Crossfit style workouts is that 95% of the people that do them have no athletic or fitness background to begin with. Most Crossfitters you will meet at a Crossfit facility are everyday people looking to try something new. They are not people with an athletic or fitness background that understand the elements of program design, progression and movement prep. The idea that these workouts are not personalized and taught in one big group is just dangerous if you ask me.
I met a guy the other night and he asked what I did for a living.
Me: "Im a personal trainer"
Guy: "thats awesome, I do Crossfit sometimes, I can't walk today!"
......And I walked away
As if that would impress me? It does not impress me in the least. In fact, it really turned me away. It would be 'cool' if this guy said that he loves to exercise, is getting into Crossfit, really likes the intensity but is working his way up to correct form" now THATS impressive!
I don't get how its impressive when people brag about their Crossfit workouts and how they 'can't walk the next day' because of the extreme intensity. That is not safe, effective nor does it set the body up for a lifetime of health.
Most people do not know even how to properly squat properly let alone load up a barbell and throw it over their heads. When I start with a client, they NEVER start with any sort of weight. We start with a dowel rod or a stability ball learning proper squatting patterning. This is a fundamental coaching tool we use before any sort of load is imposed on the body. The Crossfit style "Olympic lifts" can takes weeks, months and years to perfect and execute flawlessly. More and more I am seeing people attempt these Olympic Style lifts with atrocious form and all I can do is feel sad that some these Crossfit Coaches are smarter about 'educating'
As a trainer, I take pride in truly teaching and educating my clients on proper body mechanics, form and muscle activation. I take each client I have as a blank canvas. Sure, all of my clients have goals, but I am sure most of you don't realize that we as trainers have our own goals as well when we work with our clients. My goal for each and everyone of my clients whether elite or beginner is to make them feel and move better. I want you to be able to walk into any gym-commercial or Crossfit and know how to properly execute exercises as well as know when something feels 'off'
A young man who happened to be an oversees studen from Japan walked into our facility today, speaking very little English. He went to the front desk, asked to join and inquired about a 'coach' Most people just approach the desk and ask about "personal training" This man specifically said "is it possible to meet with a coach" I thought for a second, I AM a coach. I pride myself in the fact that I want to teach my clients how to perform movements correctly, help them reach their goals and most of all not kill yourself doing so. Each and every program that I write, I take time to put together. I assess, gather and continue to assess and gather information every single time I meet with my clients.
The fact that any Joe Schmoe can walk off the street into a Crossfit facility and join a class, fitness or athletic background or not scares the crap out of me. YES you will work hard. YES Crossfit workouts are intense, but my idea of intensity doesn't mean not being able to walk because you threw your back out during those snatches that you had no idea how to perform. Lets say that same Joe Schmoe got really into Crossfit (like most people are these days) and decided "hey I like this stuff, I am going to get certified and teach it...cool" Oh boy...then Joe Schmoe gets to teach a whole new slew of bandwagon Crossfiters how to "WORK THE HARDEST THEY HAVE EVER WORKED IN THEIR LIFE" scary scary thought. And it really is that easy!
There are of course exceptions to this. There are some Crossfit coaches out there who acutally DO know what they are doing and teach proper form, technique and movement. The fact is that when someone walks into a Crossfit facility, they are expected to have a HARD INTENSE workout and if a Crossfit coach takes any time 'educating' the truth is that that person will move onto the next coach that just has them doing burpees and cleans until they puke. Good times.
Now THIS is scary stuff....