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I’m sure we all either know or have heard of someone that does or has tried CrossFit, and quickly become obsessed with WODs, thrusters and ‘Do you even?’ memes. It’s a sport that’s come under so much scrutiny due to it’s popularity, and has copped a LOT of flack. Injuries, cult behaviour, no focus on form just get the bloody bar up whatever it takes. I’ll admit to being one of those physios that rolled my eyes when someone said they did CrossFit, ‘‘Come see me when you hurt yourself’.

But I got talking to a guy I respected one day, and at the end of the chat concluded that I couldn’t judge something like CrossFit until I had at least tried it (anecdotal evidence, because us physios are so big on the E train). So I very sceptically joined a box for an introductory month. I walked in day one, expecting to be met like a tourist wanting to surf a locals only break in Hawaii, and found instead everyone to be freaking lovely. Just normal people that like to train hard. Huh, maybe this isn’t so bad. But wait until all the shitty form.

I wasn’t allowed to join in a class or WOD until I’d been ticked off on a 3 part introductory session which put a huge focus on technique and mobility. Everyone had to meet satisfactory lifting levels before being signed off. Huh, maybe these guys do pay attention to form. But wait until the workouts start and fatigue sets in.

The workouts started, and indeed the fatigue set in, oh Lordy how it set in. I’ve grown up playing just about every sport on offer, trained hard and looked after myself all my life, but I can honestly say I’ve never been so challenged or worked out so goddamn hard. As expected my form and technique, as well as others, definitely suffered once fatigue took its’ toll. But diligently every single time, the coaches would be onto it; stopping, adjusting, correcting, drop the load, you’ve gone to s*** mate let’s get back to the basics. Interesting…

I’m now 3 months into CrossFit and I can honestly say my views have done a huge 180. I love the community, at no other gym have I walked in and gotten high fives and smiles from just about everyone. No one is wearing headphones, no one flexing in front of the mirror, you even get a little happy birthday sing along on your special day, and birthday burpees. This community is amazing, thumbs up from me.

Then the biggy that I was so focussed on for years, all the injuries. Surely pushing your body to the limits takes its toll. A recent study by Moran et al [1] found ‘The injury incidence rate associated with CrossFit training was low, and comparable to other forms of recreational fitness activities. Previous injury and gender (male) were identified as increased risk factors for injury.’ So you’re just as likely to hurt yourself in the free weights section as you are in CrossFit. I say this with a little caution however, as stereotypes exist for a reason. I’m sure there are gyms and coaches out there less stringent on good form that you are more likely to get hurt in.

Another thing I haven’t touched on just yet, is that a sudden increase in any activity will increase the risk of injury. This rings true for all forms of exercise/activity; gym, running, cycling, moving house, spending 2 days sorting out the yard when it starts to look like a jungle, even sitting for long periods. So be smart and listen to your body. Adequate rest periods are an absolute must. Don’t be a bull out of the gate if you’re new and getting started. And if you’ve got any niggles or injury concerns, check in with your friendly neighbourhood physio.
So in summary, I’m about to say something I’d never in 100 years thought I’d say. I’m a physio, and I approve of Crossfit.