Expanding My Professional Practice- CrossFit

First off, I want to say, please keep reading until the end of the article.

For those who know me, I have always been one to stay far away from CrossFit due to its not-so-great reputation. Although realistically, that type of training is probably best suited for my exercise ADHD, as I am unable to stick to one type of exercise. Right now I’m trying to balance Olympic Weightlifting, Triathlon and Ice Hockey….doesn’t make much sense, right?

From a healthcare professional point of view, a very high percentage of my patients were injured from CrossFit. They would consistently come in complaining of their aches, pains, and even yielding x-rays of fractured vertebrae. Immediately I became biased against CrossFit, believing that it was only about doing as many reps as you can (AMRAPs) of the heaviest weight possible, and not considering having good form what-so-ever. I also found out that just about anybody can become certified as a CrossFit instructor….so that means my grandmother who has never picked up a weight can take the course and try to teach exercisers how to workout.

Now, here comes the shocking part. This week I moved back to Canada, and in search of a gym with platforms, ladies bars and bumper plates, I came up short. I went to >10 gyms in my city in hopes of finding any of the above, but with all the World Gym’s and Fit4Less, I haven’t been able to find any, until a friend referred me to Windsor Crossfit. I was very hesitant to step foot in the door, as due to my previous dispositions, I wanted to stay as far away from these gyms as possible. This is when I did some self-reflection and realized that there is no harm in at least looking, and if anything, it can help give me a better understanding of what my patients are doing, their mechanism of injuries, and the nature of the coaching.  

I then proceeded to email the owner of the gym, asking if I could come in to take a look at it. To my surprise, he sat down with me upon my arrival asked me about myself and my exercise habits, as well as what I do outside of the gym, and continued to explain his viewpoint on CrossFit. He began to explain that CrossFit was simply constantly varied, functional movements at high intensities. He also elaborated that he has hired top-of-the-notch coaches who care more about good form than they do number of reps. I found this hard to believe, so to my luck, this gym had a “Bring A Friend” promotion going on, where anyone could try out CrossFit for the entire week. Needless to say, I decided to give it a go, that way I would officially know whether or not I liked it, whether or not the coaching is what rumors set it out to be, and whether or not it was just a room full of meatheads. To my surprise, I actually quite enjoyed the sessions. The coaches were absolutely incredible and very professional (they even took weights off of peoples bars to ensure proper form throughout, they broke down each movement with in-depth explanations and examples and varied the exercises according to each exercisers abilities.

I also need to mention how much I’ve learned from all these coaches. I felt I had a good base knowledge of exercises and stretches, especially from my physiotherapy degree, but I left after each session learning at least 3 new highly effective movements that I will take forward to my practice and use with my patients.

Also, did I mention their heavy focus on injury prevention and mobility? This gym has a massive range of mobility and flexibility classes, in which they focus heavily on keeping the body moving right. Amongst this as well, injury prevention and treatment are one of their 10 commandments, and they really try to accentuate that AMRAPS or heavyweights aren’t worth it, just do what you can manage safely and effectively. The second you compensate the form, you’re not even getting the full benfit or working the right muscles, so what’s the point!?

On top of all of this, I got the chance to meet a lot of like-minded individuals, who also enjoy fitness just as much as I do, and love the intensity of it all. It was very easy to begin conversations with all the members, and they were all very supportive throughout the entire session with me and with each other. I loved the community that was set up in this gym, as it appeared more like a family than a group of people trying to get fit.

So my conclusion of this:

  1. If you go to the right gym, CrossFit actually isn’t as bad or lethal as they say
  2. I’ve learned how to better treat my patients through my experience at this gym
  3. I opened up my mind and eyes to not knock it until I try it
  4. CrossFit is actually quite fun….and hard….very…very hard
  5. The vibes at a CrossFit gym are like no other, and I loved them!

So….you should give it a go too. Get outside of your comfort zone and make your own opinions! I now know mine was wrongly formed on what I’ve heard rather than what I knew.

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