Anyone who knows me well, knows I do CrossFit.
My understanding of movement and attitudes as a physiotherapist have been shaped by my exposure to CrossFit and the people I’ve met along the way. My confidence as a person has also developed concurrent with my physical proficiency over the last 3 years.
As an individual, CrossFit has helped me: lose 14kg (and counting), gain a better relationship with food, become stronger/fitter/faster, improved my self-confidence socially and boosted my body image. It has brought me out of my shell, shown me how empowering the support of a fitness community can be and brings me happiness most days of the week.
The thing I love about CrossFit is what it is trying to achieve. The majority of people think this is some insanely hard workout regime (which at times, it is) and sport for the fittest of fit. But the reality is CrossFit has always done and continues to preach the importance of fitness across the lifespan.
It’s not sexy. You don’t rock up to workout thinking ‘ah yes, doing Karen is going to help keep me out of a nursing home’ but this statement is still true. The methodology repeatedly addresses the importance of GPP – general physical preparedness. It does not matter your gender, age, stage, socioeconomic status or race; we can all benefit from increasing our general physical preparedness.
This is where my love for CrossFit as an individual starts to blend with my love for it as a physical therapist. In my first year out as a physio, part of my working week involved providing treatment in residential aged care. This experience and exposure was a complete culture shock for a variety of reasons, but the biggest most glaringly obvious one was that people were unable to move themselves. The task of lifting their arms over their head or standing up out of a chair, looks the same as how we might expect our gym buddy’s 1RM strict press or back squat to look. Imagine that 1RM effort being required to complete everyday tasks? Imagine if just the effort of standing on your own two legs felt as unstable as kneeling on a bosu ball?
Don’t get me wrong, there are certainly many factors that contribute to why people end up in residential care but physical capacity is certainly a big one.
As a physiotherapist, I love that CrossFit is general. I love that it succinctly defines fitness and includes nutrition within that. I love that CrossFit recognises that the needs of the fittest men and women on Earth vary only by degree and not kind. I love that CrossFit encourages and recognises the importance of using that fitness outside of the gym. As I get older, I don’t want to have to hesitate performing a basic task such as getting down to the floor and back up again. I want to be physically capable enough to help my friend move house. I want to be well enough conditioned that if I were to face significant illness or injury, I would have a better chance of survival and faster rate of recovery.
For these reasons I implore the current CrossFit enthusiasts to slow down. Beating your workout partner today may feel great, but pushing through that injury you’ve had for 6 months isn’t going to be helped. Take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Be satisfied by moving well in the ways you can. Look after yourself and do what feels right for your body today. Take a step in the right direction.
To who think they do ‘enough’ because they have a physical job or go for a walk everyday. These things are great, but it isn’t enough. You need to do more to increase your physical condition.
At the end of the day, as a sports physiotherapist, I don’t mind what it is you do for fitness. I care that you’re moving and doing something that fits your time and financial budget. I will always help you towards your goals and be ecstatic to do so.
But as an individual, I sure as hell think you should try CrossFit.