“No pain, no gain.” It’s the fitness enthusiast’s mantra, and to some extent, the philosophy holds — but that die-hard mentality has been getting a lot of fitness devotees into trouble recently. Critics have been more vocal than ever of late in matters of public health and safety in fitness, and the enormously popular CrossFit movement has been hurled squarely into the crosshairs of that debate.
WebMD describes CrossFit as an exercise and conditioning program devoted to high-intensity interval training, weightlifting/powerlifting, and other exhaustive calisthenics aimed at increasing strength and stamina. According to the CrossFit Journal, since the movement’s introduction in 2000, it has come into practice in over 9,000 affiliated gyms.
While high-intensity training does offer the enticing potential for physical results, it can also pose a serious risk to those practicing it — particularly those whose bodies are not accustomed to this level or pace of activity. As sports medicine specialist Wayne Winnick told The New York Times, “There’s no way inexperienced people doing this are not going to hurt themselves.”
Inadequate training combined with any type of exercise is a surefire cause of physical strain or injury, and is certainly not unique to the CrossFit regimen. However, the program has been subjected to particularly intensive media speculation. This is due not only to its emphasis on extreme cardio with minimal rest periods, but also — perhaps especially — because of its ruthless philosophical approach to strength and conditioning.