I came across a very interesting question posed by someone on Twitter: “what happens if the fittest man in the world doesn’t do Crossfit?”

The fact that this question is even being asked speaks wonders for the marketing department behind the Crossfit machine. Since Reebok have come on board, ‘the sport of fitness’ has grown exponentially, while The Crossfit Games (which sees the ‘fittest’ man and woman on earth crowned) continues to attract participants and attention throughout the world.

At the Crossfit Level 1 seminar participants are told that although you might be considered fit in a traditional sense if you win The Ironman Triathlon, you can’t be considered the fittest person in the world, as you are essentially only fit in three disciplines (swimming, cycling and running).

Looking at the workouts published for the public to compete in for The Crossfit Open, it has become apparent that Crossfit itself needs to start admitting it has become a sport just as specific as something like a triathlon. The fact that Olympic lifts, double unders (skipping) and kipping pull-ups (a gymnastic type movement resulting in a pull up with hip assistance) are the staple of The Open, Regionals and Games, means that unless you practice these movements and skills you don’t stand a chance of winning.

Crossfit has changed the way people exercise, it’s changed lives and made people (for the most part) healthier and happier, but it is a complete fallacy that someone from the greater public can become one of the fittest people on earth simply by completing a random workout each day. This will certainly get you fitter and stronger, but only to a point. I can assure anyone reading this that Froning, Khalipa and company don’t just pick random exercises to do each day. They are on specific strength programmes, they attend Olympic lifting camps, and they practice their specific skill set daily. Crossfit, just like all other sports, takes specific practice. Any Crossfitter that competes at a decent level will confirm this.

We’ve had people come to Roark Gyms and ask if we can help them compete at the Crossfit Open, and our answer is always no. Our goals are entirely different to those who have chosen Crossfit – and that doesn’t make Roark better or worse, just different. We have chosen to focus on strength, fitness and psychological elements and ignore the skill based stuff Crossfit promotes, which we believe has little transferability to sports outside of this fitness trend.

The warning I have for those considering Crossfit is this: don’t choose a gym because you want to do Crossfit, rather focus on the gym itself and level of qualified trainers. The franchise model allows anyone who has completed the Level 1 course (which takes place over one weekend) to open their own “Crossfit gym”. There are no minimum requirements in terms of space, trainers or equipment – and I can assure you that in no way are you in a position to coach people after the Level 1 course, because I myself have completed it.

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