It’s the big bad workout that everyone loves to hate. If you have read anything about fitness recently, chances are something came up about the great CrossFit debate. No matter where you stand, there is no denying that CrossFit is one of those lifestyles that pushes you to the limit on a daily basis. CrossFit Estero owner, and fitness lifestyle expert Colin Stuckert sheds some light on the line between functional fitness and the gnarly tales you read about from inside the box. His perspective breaks it down plain and simple
“The reason CrossFit isn’t dangerous is also the very thing that makes it accessible to everyone: it’s just movement.”
He confidently explains the place the CrossFit holds in the active community and how to utilize the benefits that the workouts provide. You can find Colin’s work at www.agymlife.com where he has numerous upcoming projects to enhance your lifestyle in fitness.
Read on to explore how/if CrossFit holds a place in your life. Does the training have value to you? Is it really too much for anyone to be attempting? How can you manage a healthy WOD? And most importantly what lessons can CrossFit provide to anyone trying to live an active life?
Hi Colin! Care to share a little background about yourself?
I dropped out of college a credit shy of an associate’s degree (because I was scared to take speech class) to play poker professionally. When that became too stressful, I opened my first business, a juice bar, inside a large corporate gym. 6 months later I opened CrossFit Estero with my best friend and roommate.
Nowadays, I travel, consult, take pictures and video, and write. My work can be found here: www.aGymLife.com
Any misconceptions about CrossFit?
Hmm, where do I start? The two main misconceptions about CrossFit pertain to injury and that only “fit” people can train CrossFit. First, everyone can do CrossFit. In fact, when you go for a jog, or sit down in a chair and stand up again (know as a squat), you are doing some version of CrossFit. CrossFit is just movement. Sure, there are many styles and programs that you can slap the CF label on, but it’s still all CrossFit. CrossFit is moving the human body in a variety of ways, sometimes with an external load and sometimes without. CrossFit is only dangerous if you move improperly, but so is all human movement.
The reason CrossFit isn’t dangerous is also the very thing that makes it accessible to everyone: it’s just movement. The main difference between a 60-year-old woman and a CrossFit games athlete during a workout will be the weight, volume and movement. If the workout calls for a squat, the athlete might perform repetitions with 200+pounds while the woman can use a set of 5lb dumbbells or no weight at all. If the workout then requires an advanced movement like the handstand push-up, the woman would do a scaled, substitute version of the exercise—in this case, the strict press with the same 5lb dumbbells or a light pvc dowel. It’s all about scalability. If you pick up groceries from the floor, you are doing a form of the deadlift. If you sit in a chair and standup again, you are squatting. If you can reach overhead to grab the bowl out of the cupboard, you can press. And on and on.
For every exercise, movement, or workout on the planet, there is way to scale it up or down. Simply add or subtract weight, reps, or movement. And that is how everyone can do CrossFit and why it is just as safe—or dangerous—as getting out of bed every day and going about your day (assuming you use intelligent movement).
Greatest benefit of crossfit?
Effectiveness. Makes Fitness fun. Camaraderie with fellow athletes. Instills an improvement mindset. I guess that’s a few.
At what point does crossfit go from productive to inefficient? How do you help other safely train?
CrossFit doesn’t do anything. The trainees and/or coaches are inefficient. Not spending enough time on nutrition, recovery, and mobility creates inefficiency. Having an ego causes inefficiency. Not taking the time to learn the movements to a point of mastery causes inefficiency. Not training weaknesses causes inefficiency and risk. And so on.
I’m a believer in personal responsibility. When someone wants criticizes CrossFit because an athlete injured himself doing “CrossFit” then they’re an idiot. You don’t criticize the NFL when a player gets injured, or the NBA, or the boxing commission, or the Canadian curling association, do you? It just doesn’t make sense.
If you look to history, anything that rose through popularity among the masses was almost always criticized, hated, and campaigned against one way or another until it hit critical mass and become the norm. CrossFit is no different. CrossFit is the future of fitness, and the clones that will invariably come to compete is just economics 101. The trainers and coaches that want to bash CrossFit because they are afraid of losing their jobs is like the record companies that wouldn’t accept MP3s and downloadable music as the future of the industry and failed to adjust and went bankrupt as a result. Smart coaches are embracing this new form of fitness, getting a certification or two, and adding it to their list of credentials.
What are some of the most common inhibitors you see when people struggle to formulate a fitness plan?
Complicating it. Fitness is simple. Here, use this template all your body dreams will come true:
Lift something heavy 2-3 times a week. Use 2-4 accessory exercises to support each heavy lift. Do lots and lots of reps.
Do something long-distance at least once a week.
Practice skills and drills with a focus on your weaknesses a few times each week.
Play sports, games, and get outdoors as often as possible.
Do some conditioning work of constantly varied modalities like HIIT, sprinting, rowing, swimming, running, biking, strongman, etc.
Walk a lot.
Eat real food that is prepared at home. Nothing processed.
Sleep 8 hours a night or more.
Get 20 minutes of sunlight a day.
Stretch and work mobility
Laugh and spend time with friends and family
Have a purpose.
Work your ass off on all the above.
There. Do that and you win.
How can I start doing one thing today that will give me positive long term payoff in regards to my health?
Start skipping breakfast and get used to eating fewer meals. Also known as intermittent fasting (IF).
Best advice you can offer to someone struggling to stick with it, or to find meaning in their fitness routine?
Start mixing it up. Try new sports. Get outdoors. The biggest issue with fitness I see nowadays is people like to pigeonhole themselves into one program or style. Bodybuilders want to be bodybuilders, runners want to be runners, and so on. Aim to be a student of fitness in all its many manifestations. This will make fitness more enjoyable.
O ya… and do heavy squats and deadlifts every single week.
What is your core foundation in business/practice/training?
Test, tweak and figure it out for yourself. No book, article, forum, expert, or guru can tell you what’s best for you. You have to build what works from you through implementation and feedback.
What advice would you give someone struggling to get the results they desire?
Stop eating the shit. The best way to do this is to start cooking food for yourself. My new book can help you with that: www.GymLifeCook.com
What inspires you most in a client?
When they change their diet. Do that and you have my undying support.
Best advice ever?
Worst fitness advice you have ever heard?
This is a tough one because I’ve heard and seen so much. Here are a couple:
“Don’t lift anything overhead; it’ll ruin your shoulders.”
“Don’t deadlift; it’ll ruin your back.”
“Don’t squat; it’ll ruin your knees.”
“I’m gonna do the elliptical.”
“Lifting weights makes women big.”
“Don’t eat egg yolks.”
“Fat makes you fat.”
Biggest misconception about being healthy and fit?
That it’s hard. It’s not. My health and fitness is really easy to maintain and I’m ripped year-round.
What’s hard is developing habits that get you eating real food, sleeping 8-hours a night, and going to the gym—or exercising—at least 4 days a week.
When you have those habits down pat, it’s cakewalk.
Your favorite quick easy workout?
Tabata push-ups, sit-ups, burpees. Sprinting.
Best kept fitness secret?
Buy fresh ingredients, cook them. Then go look in the mirror at your sexy body.