CrossFit continues to gain popularity in the fitness world

By Joe Yamulla || Sports Editor

We live in a world of fitness.  Every day, people workout to train, blow off steam, or just pursue self-improvement in every possible way.  The question regarding how to workout is not a linear problem with a set answer.  There are numerous ways that anyone could train each and every day.  One of the newest and most talked about fitness regimes is  CrossFit.  CrossFit boxes are spreading like wildfire across the country.  It’s becoming highly publicized with its brand and athletes in the CrossFit games that take place in the Summer.  Our Lancaster area is home to a CrossFit box.  I’m currently a member of CrossFit Lancaster on 940 Marshall Avenue.  Before diving into any other information, it is necessary to explain exactly what CrossFit is and how it is changing my life.

CrossFit is a relatively new fitness program that was designed by Greg Glassman.  A CrossFit workout entails “constantly varied functional movements performed at a relatively high intensity” (crossfit.com).  In other words, it’s a sequence of physically tasking moves, such as Olympic-style lifts, body weight exercises, or cardio, pieced together in a short period of time with very little rest.  The workouts are tough.  They push you and your muscle capacity at a high level and make sure that you’re drenched in sweat by the time your workout or WOD (workout of the day) is over.

With every new innovation or trend, our culture has a tendency to decide they’re afraid or critical of it if they don’t quite understand it.  I’ve seen articles and news reports labeling CrossFit as dangerous and unsafe in comparison to other fitness regimes.  The reasoning behind these statements is the traditional, “you could get hurt” explanation.  Yes, in theory, anyone could get hurt.  However, you could get hurt doing a traditional workout program as well.  I spent my whole life in athletics and I had shoulder surgery by the time I was 18 years old from baseball and basketball.  However, if you go to a legitimate CrossFit Box where you have coaches that are knowledgable and caring, you’ll learn the proper form and technique involved in muscle movements.  With appropriate coaching and dedication to the craft, CrossFit is and will always be as safe as any other fitness regime.  I’ve been blessed to work with some incredible coaches in my young experience as a CrossFit athlete, and the influence they’ve had on my life has been nothing short of incredible. 

I started CrossFit this past summer.  I came home from school in a tough place mentally and also physically.  I weighed in extremely underweight at 125 lbs.  I decided to use fitness as a tool to get my life back together, and contacted Stephane Cloud, the owner and head trainer of CrossFit Drums back in Northeast Pennsylvania.  Stephane, who knows more about fitness than anyone I have ever met, introduced me to CrossFit.  The atmosphere was supportive and challenging.  I found myself in a constant environment of self-improvement where everyone was there for each other.  Mentally, the workouts were extremely influential in picking me up and raising my spirits.  Physically, I came back to campus at 160 lbs with a 7% body fat index, making me in the best shape of my life. 

That’s how I was introduced to CrossFit Lancaster.  I got back to F&M feeling revitalized and wanted to continue to improve myself in a positive, uplifting environment.  I walked into CrossFit Lancaster as a complete stranger, but was welcomed with nothing but kindness and encouragement from head coach and owner Tim Card, and the rest of his athletes.

As I began working out my first week, I didn’t know a single person.  However, every day I was supported and pushed.  I can’t count how many times I heard, “Hey man great job,” or “Keep going, we’re almost there.”  That’s not only the nature of the people I’m lucky to workout with at CrossFit Lancaster, but it’s also a representation of the culture of CrossFit.  There is no judgement.  There is no looking down upon those who are not quite as advanced or fit.  There would never be a laugh or smirk at someone who fails.  Rather, there is only encouragement.  There is a sense of unity and friendship that shines through the CrossFit community.  I’ve already seen the CrossFit community exemplify why and how it’s so much more than a place to workout.  At CrossFit Drums, for example, Stephane Cloud and his members came together to raise over $8,500 for Ryan’s Run (a charity to raise money for kids with disabilities) over this past summer. 

The CrossFit experience is far different than any other in the fitness world.  Everyone has their own set of interests and feelings about how fitness should be done.  Of course, everyone is also entitled and justified in their beliefs as to what is the best way to workout.  For me, the CrossFit experience has been extremely rewarding and will always be a central aspect of my life.  Before you judge it, criticize it, or label it as dangerous, I absolutely recommend you contact your closest CrossFit box and try it yourself.  It may be out of your comfort zone, but for some people, new experiences could be life-changing. 

Sophomore Joe Yamulla is the Sports Editor. His email is jyamulla@fandm.edu.

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