Five Misconceptions about CrossFit

By: Coach Mitchell

CrossFit came onto the fitness scene back in the early 2000s, and it has emerged as one of America's fastest-growing sports, and has proven to be a successful training methodology for everyday people, regardless of age and training background.

To date, there are more than 13,000 CrossFit gyms operating worldwide, combined with the increase in popularity of the CrossFit Games everyone has something to say about CrossFit. With the growth comes additional media exposure, and sadly a lot of misconceptions and misinformation.

Below are 5 myths about CrossFit that warrant clarification:

Myth #1: "I'm Going to Get Injured"

False. Fear of injury is sometimes the elephant in the room, every participant hears this from those who haven't tried it, because a "friend of a friend" once got hurt, or they "heard about a study."

Injuries can happen anywhere – at the gym, skiing, hiking, getting out of bed, or in the shower. A CrossFit gym is a controlled and supervised environment. At CFG, our job as coaches is to help our members understand scaling, limitations, and provide a forum for them to become healthy and fit through constantly varied functional movements to decrease the chances of injury both inside and outside the gym. Functional movements are essential to quality of life, safe, and natural.

False claims made by others in the fitness industry have also 'fanned the flames' of the injury conversation. The National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), a competitor of CrossFit's, recently publicly acknowledged they published fake injury stats. The subjects participants testified to in court that they were not injured doing CrossFit and never told anyone they were. The study published in conjunction with Ohio State University was deemed false, but unfortunately, misinformation had made its way to the general public and it has taken years for CrossFit to undo the damage. CrossFit has successfully sued and won, requiring NSCA retract the findings.

Multiple studies have concluded that "The injury incidence rate associated with CrossFit training was low, and comparable to other forms of recreational fitness activities."

Myth #2: You need to have an athletic background in order to do CrossFit

Nope. While many people who played sports in high school or college are naturally drawn to the challenge that CrossFit provides, many times the most successful participants are those who have no athletic background whatsoever. Those who learn CrossFit without having a vast training background enter the sport with no bias, therefore they adopt their new found skills equally. In contrast, many who come from an endurance background may struggle to develop strength, and those who come from a strength background may find the metabolic conditioning to be a challenge. Often new participants find adopting new movements fun and challenging, as well they develop confidence, and embark on a totally new and exciting fitness experience. Every affiliate has members that come from all walks of life, and what connects all CrossFitters is a shared passion for fitness and health—no prerequisites required.

Myth #3: You need to be 'in shape' to do CrossFit

Absolutely not. Just as you don't need to have athletic experience to do CrossFit, don't assume that you need a certain level of fitness to join an affiliate either. One of the most interesting comments I hear is, "I gotta start training before I come in to try CrossFit." No way...just come in! That's what we are here for!

One of the great things about CrossFit is that every workout is scalable to the abilities of the athlete. If strict pull-ups are not a skill our new members have, no worries we can scale it by encouraging and teaching ring rows or banded pull-ups. If a specific load or rep scheme isn't comfortable no problem, we can use a lighter weight or reduce reps.

Through CrossFit's scalability—and almost infinite movement combinations, athletes of all backgrounds (old, young, overweight, underweight, adaptive) are able to participate in CrossFit and achieve their goals.

Myth #4: As a woman, if I do CrossFit, I'll get bulky

Hardly... As CrossFit has gained popularity the sport has garnered attention on ESPN, Reebok has been a major sponsor for years, women are being marketed to and they are participating. In fact, women are the largest demographic joining CrossFit boxes. Many are joining the ranks of those who want to get stronger and not be skinny.

Unfortunately though, many women watch the female Games athletes who compete on TV and assume that if they do CrossFit, they'll end up looking 'like them' (I personally don't see anything wrong with wanting to look like an elite-caliber athlete, but hey, everyone is different!).

Women have to train and eat with the specific intention of putting on mass in order to do so. Most women quickly learn they aren't going to look like a Games athlete, but they may end up happier and stronger than they thought.

Women have been programmed through marketing efforts that skinny is better, and muscle is big and bad. Muscles help our bodies function, and a little body fat can help regulate hormones. As women approach menopause many have found they are actually fighting the symptoms of menopause because they are healthier and more functional. The fear of bulk is silly and speaks more to what a realistic ideal body image is. For many, this is a struggle. Truthfully, the focus of CrossFit isn't aesthetics, it is functionality and health! Once the focus of one's effort becomes about health, the fear of being big and bulky quickly wanes.

Myth #5: CrossFit the training program and CrossFit the sport I see on TV are the same.

Not even close. Let's be clear: What you see at the CrossFit Games annually and what you see/do at a regular CrossFit box are two COMPLETELY DIFFERENT THINGS. The CrossFit Games is the sporting variant of CrossFit that was developed to pit the fittest athletes against one another in competition. It involves a qualifying process, culminating with the Games that are held annually in Madison Wisconsin.

Now, the athletes who make it there represent the 1% (in fact less than 1%) of all CrossFitters worldwide. They are the elite, and you won't find them in most CrossFit gyms. Furthermore, the workouts they do at the Games are unique to that competition—you can't even do the majority of them at your average CrossFit box.

For example, some of the events at the 2018 Games included an ocean swim event. The Games competitors completed multiple events back-to-back with limited rest. The CrossFit Games are a show, pure and simple.

It's at complete odds with what you'll find in a CrossFit gym. Where the regular CrossFitter is concerned with technique and steadily improving, the Games athlete is out to compete and win a competition. There are more differences than there are similarities between CrossFit the training program and CrossFit the sport.

In closing, it's important both our active members and those who haven't yet discovered CFG understand exactly what CrossFit is – an industry disrupting training methodology and sport. Greg Glassman CrossFit's founder has formally defined fitness and requires his methods to be measurable and defined. And, the results make a difference in people's lives. CrossFit has changed the fitness industry, redefined sport, beauty, and how and why we train.

There are bound to be those who have their opinions – both good and bad. Regardless of one's opinion, I sincerely hope the conclusion one makes is rooted in truth, not misconceptions. Come stop by the gym any chance that you get, if interested, and meet with one of our coaches to answer any questions or concerns you may have about starting your fitness journey!