CrossFit is a branded fitness regimen created by Greg Glassman. It is a registered trademark of CrossFit, Inc., which was founded by Greg Glassman and Lauren Jenai in 2000.
CrossFit is promoted as both a physical exercise philosophy and a competitive fitness sport, incorporating elements from high-intensity interval training, Olympic weightlifting, plyometrics, powerlifting, gymnastics, girevoy sport, calisthenics, strongman and other exercises. It is practiced by members of over 13,000 affiliated gyms, roughly half of which are located in the United States and by individuals who complete daily workouts (otherwise known as “WODs” or “workouts of the day”). CrossFit has been criticized for allegedly causing people to suffer from unnecessary injuries and exertional rhabdomyolysis, a possible life-threatening breakdown of muscle from extreme exertion.
Greg Glassman and Lauren Jenai founded CrossFit, Inc. in 2000. The company was conceived a few years earlier, in 1996, as Cross-Fit. The original CrossFit gym is in Santa Cruz, California and the first affiliated gym was CrossFit North in Seattle, Washington; there were 13 by 2005 and today there are more than 13,000. Coaches associated with CrossFit include Louie Simmons, John Welbourn and Bob Harper.
CrossFit is a strength, conditioning and overall fitness program consisting mainly of a mix of aerobic exercise, calisthenics (body weight exercises) and Olympic weightlifting. CrossFit, Inc. describes its strength and conditioning program as “constantly varied functional movements executed at high intensity across broad time and modal domains”, with the stated goal of improving fitness, which it defines as “work capacity across broad time and modal domains”.
Hour-long classes at affiliated gyms or “boxes” typically include a warm-up, a skill development segment, the high-intensity “workout of the day” (or WOD) and a period of individual or group stretching. Some gyms also often have a strength-focused movement prior to the WOD. Performance on each WOD is often scored and/or ranked to encourage competition and to track individual progress. Some affiliates offer additional classes, such as Olympic weightlifting, which are not centered around a WOD.
CrossFit is designed to build wide-ranging, overall and comprehensive level of fitness in functional competence in all 10 key physical parameters: cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance, accuracy.
CrossFit gyms use equipment from multiple disciplines, including barbells, dumbbells, gymnastics rings, rope climbs, pull-up bars, jump ropes, kettlebells, medicine balls, plyo boxes, resistance bands, rowing machines and various mats. CrossFit is focused on “constantly varied, high-intensity, functional movement”, drawing on categories and exercises such as calisthenics, Olympic-style weightlifting, powerlifting, Strongman-type events, plyometrics, body weight exercises, indoor rowing, aerobic exercise, running and swimming.
CrossFit programming is decentralized, but its general methodology is used by thousands of private affiliated gyms, fire departments, law-enforcement agencies and military organizations, including the Royal Danish Life Guards, as well as by some U.S. and Canadian high-school physical-education teachers, high-school and college sports teams and the Miami Marlins.
A 2014 statistical analysis showed that 50% of CrossFit participants were male and 50% were female. CrossFit’s growing interest internationally has created a spike in Olympic weightlifting interest in the United States.