An athletic trainer makes the case for CrossFit

Since 2000, CrossFit gyms have experienced a sensational surge across the country, including in our local communities. Siera Updike, LAT, ATC, athletic trainer, Parkview Sports Medicine, who is also an avid CrossFitter, shares a bit about common misconceptions surrounding the sport, how to avoid beginner pitfalls and the intricacies that make CrossFit such an incredible experience.  

CrossFit’s reputation

In my opinion, CrossFit is a very misunderstood sport. The idea behind CrossFit is to perform “constantly varied functional movements at high intensities”. The sport gets a bad reputation because people see the movements and the individuals who are deemed as “professional athletes” in the sport and try to emulate them. They either end up hurting themselves or they find that the sport is too hard and they quit.

CrossFit is unique in that every movement is scalable to each participant. What I mean by that is, all of the movements can be altered to cater to each individual’s physical abilities or limitations. When done correctly, people have experienced unbelievable success, because they have listened to their bodies and they have pushed themselves past their own mental limitations.

Finding your gym

There are gyms with classes that cater to the elderly population and some that offer classes specifically for those with disabilities. These individuals are able to participate in physical activity at their own level while also immersing themselves in an empowering community of like-minded individuals who just want to see them achieve whatever personal goals they have.

In CrossFit affiliate gyms, the members truly do become a community. Everyone supports each other. Competition happens naturally in classes, but it creates an environment of intensity that is infectious and produces amazing results. Taking a CrossFit class makes fitness fun because you are with other people who are overcoming obstacles, both mental and physical, right beside you. You never feel like you are on your fitness journey alone. I’ve come to see CrossFit as a special sport that truly includes everyone, and that is what attracted me to it two years ago.

Nutrition and injury prevention

When performing at the high level that CrossFit demands, it is important to pay close attention to nutrition and mobility. In my experience, nearly all of my CrossFit injuries can be linked back to poor mobility in the beginning of my CrossFit journey. Mobility is often downplayed, because it isn’t the “cool” part of class, but most gyms incorporate mobility and stretching into their programming or they offer classes that focus on mobility and stretching in order to prevent injury.

Fueling the body with nutritious foods and in the right amounts is also crucial to preventing injury. There is something to be said for how well the body can perform when it is fueled with the right foods. CrossFit has taught me that personally, I physically cannot function if I eat foods high in fat and sugars. I am mentally foggy and I suffer from digestive issues if I try to eat a diet that is high in processed sugar or fast food. Performing physical activity while experiencing the side effects of an awful diet just sets an individual up for potential injury, no matter if they are training for a marathon or just participating in a local CrossFit affiliate’s class.

In today’s fast-paced society, it is becoming extremely common for people to let their physical fitness and nutrition become a secondary priority, if a priority at all. Part of what is so neat about CrossFit is that it pushes people to make these things a top priority and in doing that, it helps improve the lives of the individuals brave enough to take the first steps. CrossFit is more than a sport. It’s a lifestyle.

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