Fitness Friday: CrossFit R5
CrossFit R5, located in Wayne, is the newest outpost of the incredibly popular CrossFit fitness program. CrossFit’s star has been rising over the last few years and it’s hard to pick up a fitness magazine without reading about its popularity. CrossFit has a cult-like following among its disciples but is equally polarizing in the world of health and fitness. More than any other fitness program, I had to see CrossFit for myself to understand the controversy surrounding this fitness program.
My Introduction to CrossFit R5
I drove up on the first night and watched from my car as a very strong man lifted what appeared to be 1000 lbs over his head. I thought, ‘Good lord, what have I gotten myself into?’
I walked in and saw what appeared to be a very spartan gym. No treadmills, no ellipticals, no exercise bikes. There were pull up bars, weights, rowing machines, wooden boxes, and a few very large fans. I watched in awe as ‘real’ CrossFitters (aka non-newbies) finished their ‘WOD’ (Workout of the Day). They seemed very strong, very capable, and they also looked like they were having a blast. I had to learn more.
To get started in CrossFit, you are recommended to take 6 ‘On-Ramp’ classes that are largely didactic. The On-Ramp classes follow a detailed curriculum of teaching the 9 Foundational Movements (Air Squat, Front Squat, Overhead Squat, Shoulder Press, Push Press, Push Jerk, Deadlift, Sumo Deadlift High Pull, Medicine Ball Clean) of CrossFit. The instructors stress proper form and are very detailed in their teaching. Modifications are readily offered for all exercises so that every person can do the exercises. At the end of each On-Ramp class there is a short workout that gives the participant a taste of a CrossFit workout. I took 3 On-Ramp classes, which was a great way to get a sense of the culture and fitness program at CrossFit R5.
What Explains the Popularity of CrossFit?
- It is inherently a very social fitness program. Because it’s exclusively group classes, the individuals who lean toward CrossFit are people who enjoy exercising with other people. To that end, CrossFit Main Line (in Ardmore) has hosted events including ‘The CrossFit Prom,’ weekly happy hours, and ‘CrossFit Casino Night.’ CrossFitters are a high energy, social, fun group of people.
- CrossFit, more than most other group fitness programs, appeals to men. For years, men were abandoned in the group exercise department (hard to find men in step aerobics or barre class), and fitness programs like CrossFit have realized that men enjoy social fitness as much as women.
- The workouts are fun, challenging, and boredom is virtually impossible.
- Over the past few decades, barbell workouts have been abandoned by traditional gyms in favor of nautilus type machines. I think CrossFit is bringing back a form of fitness that was beloved by many people.
Why is There Backlash Against CrossFit?
- Critics of CrossFit suggest that CrossFit is unsafe or that it can cause injury.
- The reality, however, is that CrossFit coaches are extremely attentive to proper technique (hence the 6 On-Ramp classes) and readily suggest modifications for every exercise within the program.
- Injuries often occur when individuals don’t respect their own physical limitations. For example, I broke my foot this summer while running because I refused to ask for help after twisting my ankle during a race. Is that the fault of the race coordinator? No, it wasmy fault for pushing through an event when I should have asked for help.
Curious to Check it Out? Here’s What You Need to Know:
- All newbies start in the On-Ramp program, so there is little concern about feeling new and awkward because you are learning the program with other new people.
- The 3 On-Ramp classes that I took ranged in size. The smallest class had 4 participants, the largest class had 10 participants. The instructors and the participants wereincredibly warm and welcoming.
Typical person at this studio:
- On the 3 nights that I was at CrossFit R5, the gender split appeared to be 50/50 and the age range looked like it was 22-55.
- CrossFit Masters (40+ division of CrossFit) is growing steadily and a recent Masters competition sold out in 24 hours.
What You Should Wear:
- Wear something functional and stylish. CrossFit style is more urban (less bubble gum pink for the ladies) than other traditional gyms. CrossFit sneakers are cute, too. I covet the black ones with the red details.
Anything Else You Should Know:
- There is ample parking at the building.
- CrossFit R5 offers yoga on Sundays.
- The first week of CrossFit is free. I highly recommend that you check it out!
About CrossFit R5
724 West Lancaster Avenue
Wayne, PA 19087
Lauren Napolitano, Psy.D.