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How We Got Here: CrossFit vs. the Fitness Industry by Dr. Tony Webster - CrossFit Journal

In CrossFit

August 27, 2009

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Dr. Tony Webster, a CrossFitter who teaches undergraduate courses in exercise education, finds a connection between our detractors and the evolution of physical activity guidelines. He takes a look at what’s next.

Many academics and fitness professionals are highly suspicious of CrossFit. In turn, CrossFitters are often quick to dismiss conventional fitness approaches. It doesn’t have to be this way. Call me optimistic, but I think we can learn a lot from each other.

Until 1990, the definition of “exercise” was rather limited. The definition slowly became clearer, and in 2007 the American Heart Association (AHA) and American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) released a joint updated recommendation that contained an important recognition of the potency of vigorous physical activity. The AHA/ACSM guidelines state, “To promote and maintain health, all healthy adults aged 18 to 65 years need moderate intensity aerobic (endurance) physical activity for a minimum of 30 minutes on five days each week or vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity for a minimum of 20 minutes on three days each week.”

The addition of the vigorous-intensity phrase was significant. It’s safe to say that a CrossFit-style program performed three-to-five times per week will almost certainly provide a weekly dose of “vigorous” aerobic exercise that will easily satisfy current public-health guidelines.

More and more research studies are demonstrating the efficacy of shorter high-intensity exercise bouts in improving not only fitness but also a whole range of health markers. In fact, plenty of scientific evidence suggests vigorous activity has inherently greater health benefits than moderate activity. Used safely and sensibly, I believe CrossFit has potential not just to change people’s lives, but also to change the fitness industry for the better.

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10 Comments on “How We Got Here: CrossFit vs. the Fitness Industry”


Tom Seryak wrote …

Very intriguing article, thank you!


wrote …

Thank you for the article, very interesting. Just wondering, those old photos are good, what books are they from?


wrote …

Can we please make this article free? I'd like to make it a permanent link on our site. The "counter-culture" stance of CrossFit is attractive for some, but not all, at first blink; it would be nice to have a nice segue for folks coming from the "chrome and mirror" McFit world.


wrote …

OK, was a huge fan of this article...and THEN I noticed I was cited. Hahaha. Thanks, Dr. Webster! On a side note, a CrossFitter from CF Taranis was here this summer, so I have a Taranis shirt!


wrote …

Well done Tony. I also teach at the University level and use CrossFit as the foundation for my courses. CrossFit lends itself very well to the realm of education. I have found the main site an extremely valuable and successful tool in the preparation as well as presentation for my class. I can only imagine the use of CrossFit in education at every level will grow - it has to.


wrote …

I feel like the headline is a bit misleading. It ought to read Crossfit vs. Fitness Academia or vs Current Fitness Recommendations. There wasn't much in regards to the industry itself, tho it is certain that one has led to the other. Overall it was a well thought out article and a good read, esp the old-school pics!


wrote …

Way to go Tony. Another bang-up article. I was thinking as I read it that the community potential of CrossFit is possibly its greatest strength. The health policy wonks have it dead wrong in specializing for sub-groups.


Louis Hayes wrote …

Fair assessment of the industry climate out there. Thanks.


wrote …

I love this article Tony! Concise and succinct, and totally true in my opinion! I would love to see more of the crossfit style of exercising introduced into grade school gym class, actually, and that may possibly begin to interrupt our "obesemic" as I think you put it.


wrote …

Thanks for the positive comments guys! Esp you guys Bull and Globo!

CrossFit Taranis rocks!

tony w.

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