After reading this, I can see why:
The modern gym has been deliberately designed to not require any coordination, accuracy, agility, or balance. The attributes of fitness that bind the body and brain together have become the exclusive province of athletes, dancers, and the few lucky children who still climb trees, pop bicycle wheelies, and hang upside down from monkey bars. The stripping-away of coordination, accuracy agility and balance from physical culture – from our modern notion of fitness – has made us weaker, because power, the ability to apply maximum force, requires neural circuitry that’s impossible to develop on a pulley cable.
But it’s worse than that. If all we lost in the transition from functional fitness to circuit-trained muscle development was power, we’d be losing something the modern world doesn’t demand. Most of us can live pretty well, in a physical sense, without building huge amounts of physical power.
The problem is, the area of our brain that’s responsible for full-body movement…that’s not all it does. The brain controls movement in three areas, depending on the complexity of the movement. The primary motor cortex, the lowest-level switch box, is responsible for simple movements like shifting the position of your head. Slightly in front of this area is a more sophisticated set of controls for integrated movements, like reaching for an object. In front of this is a third, even more intricate control center called the attention association area. The attention association area is the part of the brain that controls complex movements that involve the entire body. This is where coordination, accuracy, agility, and balance live...
...When CrossFitters talk about how the workouts have influenced their lives by making it easier for them to get their act together, they are describing a biological process. On the flip side, the way we allow health club machines to stabilize and limit our range of movement, to literally keep us on track, leaves us less purposeful. The abandonment of complex movement and physical intensity has rendered us, in some fundamental way, less intelligent. We have been kinesthetically brain-washed by the machines that are supposed to make us fit.
(Turns out the article is an excerpt from a book that came out this year, "Learning to Breathe Fire." I think I'll try to find it at my library instead of buying it. But it seems like it might help me take my next fitness steps.)
I Googled CrossFit in my area and found a gym not too far from me, with some very impressive testimonials from people who have been doing it for awhile. But I'd like to hear more.