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Crossfit craziness: sport or fitness fad?

By Brielle Urciuoli

Fran, Cindy, Helen — to the average person, these may just be the the names of a friend, family member or colleague.  But to a crossfitter, they represent iconically grueling workouts, performed daily in boxes across the world.

TCNJ Crossfit Club working out. (Courtesy of Mitch Benyon)

Crossfit, founded by Greg Glassman in 2000, has grown from a backyard competition to a worldwide fitness phenomenon. Defined as “constantly varied functional movements at high intensities,” Crossfit involves a slew of Olympic weightlifting, gymnastics, cardio and flexibility.

“However, for those who crossfit, it is much more than that,” said senior history and secondary education double major Joe DeMarco, who is also a level one certified Crossfit trainer at Pennington Crossfit. “It’s a lifestyle.”

From the pool to the weight room, gymnastics rings and everything in between, it is no surprise that crossfitters are often referred to as “the fittest on Earth.”

Crossfit gyms, also known as boxes, are springing up across the nation, and college clubs are becoming increasingly popular as well. TCNJ Crossfit Club meets over 10 times a week.

“It started off as one person leading a bunch of workouts,” said senior math and secondary education double major Michelle Delahanty, who is the vice president of the TCNJ Crossfit Club.  “Now we have a bunch of people leading workouts, a couple crossfit certified members of our club, and we even have events like an obstacle course scheduled for November.”

But not everybody is excited about this fitness fad. Some more traditional workout enthusiasts are skeptical about the efficiency of the sport.

Mitch Benyon, a sophomore psychology major and Crossfit trainer at Pennington Crossfit said, “Most of the scrutiny comes from those who practice the traditional styles of weightlifting and running. The main criticism is that form is compromised, which can be true in some instances.”

Many people believe that proper form is nearly impossible to obtain due to the speed and high intensity of Crossfit workouts.

But those nonbelievers may want to take note of Olympic Athletes, such as Amanda Beard, who have become lovers of the sport and regulars at their local boxes.

Additionally, not everyone can teach Crossfit. Trainers go through an extensive amount of training to learn the fundamental movements, nutritional advice and practice workouts just to gain their level one trainer’s certification.

“The course exemplifies the sense of community and drive to push yourself that is necessary to be successful in Crossfit,” DeMarco said.

Crossfit just might be another “fitness fad” of this era — throwback to the 1980s, with an abundance of workout videos and brightly-colored spandex. Or it could be here to stay. With the Crossfit Games — a yearly equivalent to the Olympics for crossfitters — many gather that Crossfit, for better or for worse, is here to stay.


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