Just to keep me on my toes, I'm going to resist the urge to use the term "audacious radical fitness zealots" when referring to CrossFit, a strength and conditioning program for what I would call the "over-the-top" athlete.
On the CrossFit website, they summarize their program in 100 words:
"Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat.
Practice and train major lifts: Deadlift, clean squat, presses, C&J, and snatch. Similarly, master the basics of gymnastics: pull-ups, dips, rope climb, push-ups, sit-ups, presses to handstand, pirouettes, flips, splits, and holds. Bike, run, swim, row, etc, hard and fast. Five or six days per week. Mix these elements in as many combinations and patterns as creativity will allow. Routine is the enemy. Keep workouts short and intense. Regularly learn and play new sports."
Okay, I agree with a lot of that. But after looking at some YouTube videos of some of the main CrossFit workouts, I'll bet that in ten years, they will have bad knees, torn rotator cuffs and more artificial joints than me. And the sad thing is that they won't be able to keep doing what they love to do, which is continue to move with ease and speed. CrossFit is a fitness craze.
Virginia Heffernan wrote about it in The New York Times Magazine. She called it a "grueling online exercise regime that requires near-devotional commitment" and in my (sort of) humble fitness opinion, she is politely understating it.
Of course, nothing's wrong with have a Goliath-style work(out) ethic and a lofty Olympic-like fitness threshold, but this workout is a joint-buster. It puts the "man" back in "maniac." Although I did find myself lusting after their handstand pushups and their rope climbs, their hurling, snatching and dead-lifting with near impossible speed. After all, I'm still working on mastering one pull up, but I also imagined their knees exploding on the next ever-deeper squat or their shoulder dislocating as they balanced in a dangerously unnatural angle on the gymnastic rings.
My reaction could just be the mom in me. Or the CPR certified aerobics instructor. Or the non-idiot part of me. Then I had a horrifying thought. What if some of my readers who read my articles about working out look upon my fitness suggestions with an equal sense of disbelief or a similar feeling that I had while reading about CrossFit -- that the exercises prescribed are equally impossible?
So the point I want to make is that nothing you have to do to be healthy is super-human --although on some rainy Mondays mornings, it may feel like it. All I believe you need to do in order to live just about as long as the CrossFit cult members is 25-30 minutes of cardio exercise (meaning that you are sweating and you could talk but not sing) four times per week, fifty crunches and twenty push-ups, modified to your knees if needed. Do these most every day. And you will live just as long. Unless there's a natural disaster and it's survival of the fittest, then the CrossFit peeps will survive beyond most of the rest of us. But that's okay with me. I'm not into sleeping on the ground and I'm not much of a survivalist anyway.
Follow Penny Love on Twitter: www.twitter.com/pennylovehoff