Thursday, July 17, 2014


Has anyone who reads this ever tried CrossFit training? I just read a fascinating article about it, and some friends at the gym swear by it. On the other hand, one of the women I talked to, who said it had changed her life, also said she'd had to quit doing it and return to the gym because it was too intense.

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.


  1. I know some people who LOVE it and swear by it. I think there are probably a lot of positive things about - as there are with just about anything, really. I haven't tried it myself, but did quite a bit of research on it myself last year, and came up with something that I took as a warning - proceed with caution - is my summary. One of the benefits to it is the teamwork environment it creates and fosters, and for someone like me who loves doing things with people and playing team sports, that seems like a good thing. The downside to that is it can get a little TOO teamwork-oriented. The people (from what I understand) are generally very encouraging and will cheer you along as you are finishing that day's routine. But if you can't finish, there have been instance where people have given into peer pressure and keep going when they shouldn't, and have made themselves severely ill or have injured themselves.

    So, be careful. Find a gym with people you like and you can trust, and as always, listen to your body and don't be stupid.

    (Probably none of that made sense.)

  2. I just found this article today:

  3. I just found this article today that basically says HIPT training can increase VO2 max and burn fat. But as with any other similar program, be careful of overuse.
    Here's the full article: