CrossFit is a branded fitness regimen created by Greg Glassman and is a registered trademark of CrossFit, Inc. which was founded by Greg Glassman and Lauren Jenai in 2000. Promoted as both a physical exercise philosophy and also as a competitive fitness sport, CrossFit workouts incorporate 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 come into some controversy for allegedly causing people to suffer from unnecessary injuries and exertional rhabdomyolysis, a condition in which muscle tissues die.
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, Bob Harper, and Mike Burgener. Glassman obtained complete control over the company after a divorce with Lauren. Upon the divorce settlement, Lauren attempted to sell her share in the company to an outside party, but Glassman obtained a $16 million loan from Summit Partners to buy it.
CrossFit is a strength and conditioning 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 gyms use equipment from multiple disciplines, including barbells, dumbbells, gymnastics rings, 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 these: 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. “CrossFit is not a specialized fitness program, but a deliberate attempt to optimize physical competence in each of 10 recognized fitness domains,” says founder Greg Glassman in the Foundations document. Those domains are: cardiovascular and respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance, and accuracy. CrossFit appeals to both men and women alike and a 2014 statistical analysis showed that CrossFit participants were equally 50% male and 50% female. CrossFit’s growing interest internationally has also created a spike in Olympic weightlifting interest in the United States.