|This article may rely excessively on sources too closely associated with the subject, potentially preventing the article from being verifiable and neutral. (March 2014)|
|Founded||Santa Cruz, California, United States (2000 )|
CrossFit, Inc. is a fitness company founded by Greg Glassman and Lauren Jenai in 2000. Promoted as both a physical exercise philosophy and also as a competitive fitness sport, CrossFit workouts incorporate elements from high-intensity interval training, Olympic weightlifting, plyometrics, powerlifting, gymnastics, girevoy sport, calisthenics, strongman, and other exercises. It is practiced by members of over 10,000 affiliated gyms, half of which are located in the United States, and by individuals who complete daily workouts (otherwise known as a "WODs" or "workouts of the day").
Greg Glassman founded CrossFit, Inc. in 2000. The company was conceived a few years earlier, in 1996, as Cross-Fit. The original CrossFit gym is in Santa Cruz, California, and the first affiliated gym was CrossFit North in Seattle, Washington; there were 13 by 2005, and today there are more than 10,000. Coaches associated with CrossFit include Louie Simmons, John Welbourn, Bob Harper, Mike Burgener, and Lindy Barber.
Glassman retains complete control over the company after a divorce resulted in his estranged wife, Lauren, attempting to sell her share in the company. Glassman was able to obtain a $16 million loan from Summit Partners to buy out her share.
CrossFit is a strength and conditioning program consisting mainly of a mix of aerobic exercise, gymnastics (body weight exercises), and Olympic weight lifting. CrossFit Inc. describes its strength and conditioning program as "constantly varied functional movements executed at high intensity across broad modal and time domains," with the stated goal of improving fitness, which it defines as "work capacity across broad time and modal domains." Hour-long classes at affiliated gyms, or "boxes", typically include a warm-up, a skill development segment, the high-intensity "workout of the day" (or WOD), and a period of individual or group stretching. Some gyms also often have a strength focused movement prior to the WOD. Performance on each WOD is often scored and/or ranked to encourage competition and to track individual progress. Some affiliates offer additional classes, such as Olympic weightlifting, which are not centered around a WOD.
CrossFit gyms use equipment from multiple disciplines, including barbells, dumbbells, gymnastics rings, pull-up bars, jump ropes, kettlebells, medicine balls, plyo boxes, resistance bands, rowers, and various mats. CrossFit is focused on "constantly varied, high-intensity, functional movement," drawing on categories and exercises such as these: calisthenics, Olympic-style weightlifting, powerlifting, Strongman-type events, plyometrics, body weight exercises, indoor rowing, aerobic exercise, running, and swimming.
CrossFit programming is decentralized but its general methodology is used by thousands of private affiliated gyms, fire departments, law enforcement agencies, and military organizations including the Royal Danish Life Guards, as well as by some U.S. and Canadian high school physical education teachers, high school and college sports teams, and the Miami Marlins.
"CrossFit is not a specialized fitness program, but a deliberate attempt to optimize physical competence in each of 10 recognized fitness domains," says founder Greg Glassman in the Foundations document. Those domains are: cardiovascular and respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance, and accuracy.
CrossFit, Inc. licenses the CrossFit name to gyms for an annual fee and certifies trainers. Besides the standard two-day "Level 1 Trainer Course", specialty seminars include gymnastics, Olympic weightlifting, powerlifting, strongman, running and endurance, rowing, kettlebells, mobility and recovery, CrossFit Kids, CrossFit Football, and self-defense and striking. Other specialized adaptations include programs for pregnant women, seniors, and military special operations candidates. Affiliates develop their own programming, pricing, and instructional methods. Many athletes and trainers see themselves as part of a contrarian, insurgent movement that questions conventional fitness wisdom; besides performing prescribed workouts, they follow CrossFit's nutrition recommendations (adopting a paleo and/or zone diet), and favor minimalist footwear.
CrossFit makes use of a virtual community Internet model. The company says this de-centralized approach shares some common features with open source software projects and allows best practices to emerge from a variety of approaches, a contention that is disputed by some competitors and former affiliates.
The "CrossFit Games" have been held every summer since 2007. Athletes at the Games compete in workouts they learn about only hours beforehand, sometimes including surprise elements that are not part of the typical CrossFit regimen. Past examples include a rough-water swim and a softball throw. The Games are styled as a venue for determining the "Fittest on Earth," where competitors should be "ready for anything."
In 2011, the Games adopted an online format for the sectional event, facilitating participation by athletes worldwide. During the "CrossFit Open", a new workout is released each week. Athletes have several days to complete the workout and submit their scores online, with either a video or validation by a CrossFit affiliate. The top CrossFit Open performers in each region advance to the regional events, held over the following two months.
The Games include divisions for individuals of each gender, and for a number of Masters age groups.
A 2010 U.S. Army study conducted during a six-week period produced an average power output increase of 20% among participants, measured by benchmark WODs. The average one repetition maximum weight deadlift increased by 21.11%.
A 2013 study by exercise scientists at Ohio State University revealed that participation in a CrossFit program significantly improved VO2 max and decreased body fat percentage in both males and females across all levels of fitness.
A 2013 study by the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse's exercise physiology program monitored 16 healthy and fit volunteers as they completed two separate CrossFit WODs. They found that the men burned nearly 21 calories per minute, and women burned just over 12. Each routine took various times to complete, however all participants maintained an elevated heart rate and reached approximately 80 percent of their VO2 max, satisfying fitness industry guidelines set forth by the American Council on Exercise (ACE) for improving cardiovascular endurance.
According to Stuart McGill, a professor of spine biomechanics at the University of Waterloo, the risk of injury from some CrossFit exercises outweighs their benefits when they are performed with poor form in timed workouts. He added that there are similar risks in other high-intensity exercise programs but noted that CrossFit's online community enables athletes to follow the program without proper guidance, increasing the risk of improper form or technique.
In 2013 a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research concluded that the incidents of injury are consistent with weight lifting, power lifting and gymnastics—sports with many movements and exercises in common with CrossFit.
Makimba Mimms, who suffered injuries while performing a CrossFit workout on December 11, 2005, at Manassas World Gym in Manassas, Virginia, under the supervision of an uncertified trainer, claimed that CrossFit poses an elevated risk of rhabdomyolysis. He successfully sued his trainers and was awarded $300,000 in damages.
In 2005, The New York Times documented rhabdomyolysis associated with the culture of CrossFit in an article entitled "Getting Fit, Even If It Kills You". "There's no way inexperienced people doing this are not going to hurt themselves", a sports medicine specialist is quoted in the piece.
Since May 2005, CrossFit has published several articles about rhabdomyolysis in CrossFit-specific journals in their online CrossFit Journal (which is not peer-reviewed). Three of the articles are included in the CrossFit Manual provided to all prospective trainers. In a further attempt to raise awareness of the problem, CrossFit, Inc. also used to sell "Uncle Rhabdo" T-shirts (featuring a cartoon clown dying in a dramatic fashion—hooked up to a dialysis machine, with his kidneys and intestines falling on the floor).
Bloggers on many websites allege that CrossFit exercise sequences are illogical, random, and lack periodization. Those same blogs allege that CrossFit lacks accreditation standards for trainers.
A 2014 editorial published on ESPN.com also noted a lack of accreditation standards and quality control for trainers.
Facebook post controversy
On June 4, 2014, CrossFit uploaded a "parody video to their Facebook page" made by The Kloons, which included a portrayal of Jesus, and featured concepts such as the "Holy Trinity of exercise". Yasmine Hafiz, in The Huffington Post wrote that some viewers were "outraged at the disrespectful use of a Christian symbol", with one user asking "on what planet is it comical or encouraged to mock someone's belief"?
In 2014, Chloie Jonsson, a post-transition trans woman, pursued a $2.5 million suit against CrossFit, claiming she was barred from competing in the female division of the 2013 CrossFit Games after her transgender status was anonymously revealed. CrossFit's attorneys have released a statement saying that transgender athletes are "welcomed with open arms", but that Jonsson "still has the genetic makeup that confers a physical and physiological advantage over women" and CrossFit's policy is needed to "ensure the fairness of the competition".
CrossFit has also stated that Jonsson was eliminated from the competition for her poor athletic performance.
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