There are workouts, and then there are workouts. CrossFit falls into the latter category. CrossFit is an extreme workout that focuses on developing general athleticism rather than sport-specific training. A main tenet of CrossFit is that to be truly fit, you must maximize your potential in ten key areas:

  • Cardiovascular/respiratory endurance
  • Stamina
  • Strength
  • Flexibility
  • Power
  • Speed
  • Agility
  • Balance
  • Coordination
  • Accuracy

CrossFit workouts rely on constantly varied, whole-body movements done at high intensity to tax both the aerobic and anaerobic energy systems. Many police academies, fire departments, and military units use CrossFit as their principal strength and conditioning program.

Who Can Do CrossFit?
Proponents of CrossFit believe that it can improve the physical fitness of anyone--from elite athletes to sedentary seniors--as long as they stick with it. This is because while the exercises stay the same, the intensity and weight load can be tailored to each individual.

While everyone in good health can try CrossFit, this is not the type of sport you can do while reading or watching TV. If you have health limitations that require a gentler approach to exercise, or if you prefer the routine and consistency of more traditional fitness activities, you may find the demands of CrossFit too difficult. Be sure to check with your doctor before starting a CrossFit program to ensure that it's a healthy choice for you.

What Is a CrossFit Workout?
CrossFit training is both broad and inclusive, encompassing a wide range of activities, some of which you may be familiar with. Most often, CrossFit relies on a mix-and-match approach, which assures that you'll rarely do exactly the same workout twice. A CrossFit program might include any or all of the following elements:

  • Traditional cardio workouts, such as running
  • Strengthening exercises that rely on lifting your own body weight
  • Weightlifting, including power lifting and Olympic lifting
  • Throwing, rowing, rope climbing, and jump rope
  • Tumbling and gymnastics

CrossFit athletes frequently move heavy loads quickly over short distances. They might use equipment such as:

  • Dumbbells
  • Pull-up bars
  • Gymnastics rings
  • Kettlebells
  • Medicine balls

How Do CrossFit Programs Work?
Many gyms and specialized affiliate facilities offer CrossFit training programs. Programs typically consist of classes that include a warm-up, a skill-development segment, and a high-intensity daily workout. The workouts, which are different each day, generally last up to 20 minutes. Classes often feature scoring and ranking systems, which allow participants to compete against each other by testing their skills.

How Do I Try CrossFit?
Since the CrossFit brand certifies trainers and licenses the CrossFit name to affiliate gyms, you simply need to find a gym that offers CrossFit classes. The programs and teaching methods may vary from gym to gym, since affiliates are free to modify the approach to better serve their members. To find out if this unique road to total fitness is for you, a lower-cost option is to access free CrossFit instructional workout videos online.