Absolutely! Your needs and the Olympic athlete’s differ by degree not kind. Increased power, strength, cardiovascular and respiratory endurance, flexibility, stamina, coordination, agility, balance, and coordination are each important to the world’s best athletes and to our grandparents. The amazing truth is that the very same methods that elicit optimal response in the Olympic or professional athlete will optimize the same response in the elderly. Of course, we can’t load your grandmother with the same squatting weight that we’d assign an Olympic skier, but they both need to squat. In fact, squatting is essential to maintaining functional independence and improving fitness. Squatting is just one example of a movement that is universally valuable and essential yet rarely taught to any but the most advanced of athletes. This is a tragedy. Through painstakingly thorough coaching and incremental load assignment CrossFit has been able to teach anyone who can care for themselves to perform safely and with maximum efficacy the same movements typically utilized by professional coaches in elite and certainly exclusive environments.
Many professional and elite athletes are participating in the CrossFit Program. Prize-fighters, cyclists, surfers, skiers, tennis players, triathletes and others competing at the highest levels are using the CrossFit approach to advance their core strength and conditioning, but that’s not all. CrossFit has tested its methods on the sedentary, overweight, pathological, and elderly and found that these special populations met the same success as our stable of athletes. We call this “bracketing”. If our program works for Olympic Skiers and overweight, sedentary homemakers then it will work for you.
If your current routine looks somewhat like the typical fitness magazines and gyms, don’t despair. Any exercise is better than none, and you’ve not wasted your time. In fact, the aerobic exercise that you’ve been doing is an essential foundation to fitness and the isolation movements have given you some degree of strength. You’re in good company; we have found that some of the world’s best athletes were sorely lacking in their core strength and conditioning. It’s hard to believe but many elite athletes have achieved international success and are still far from their potential because they have not had the benefit of state-of-the-art coaching methods.
No! Athletes experience a protection from the ravages of aging and disease that non-athletes never find. For instance, 80-year-old athletes are stronger than non-athletes in their prime at 25 years old. If you think that strength isn’t important consider that strength loss is what puts people in nursing homes. Athletes have greater bone density, stronger immune systems, less coronary heart disease, reduced cancer risk, fewer strokes, and less depression than non-athletes
According to Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, an athlete is “a person who is trained or skilled in exercises, sports, or games requiring strength, agility, or stamina”. The CrossFit definition of an athlete is a bit tighter. The CrossFit definition of an athlete is “a person who is trained or skilled in strength, power, balance and agility, flexibility, and endurance”. The CrossFit model holds “fitness”, “health”, and “athleticism” as strongly overlapping constructs. For most purposes they can be seen as equivalents.
You’re in luck. We hear this often, but the truth is that fitness, wellness, and pathology (sickness) are measures of the same entity, your health. There are a multitude of measurable parameters that can be ordered from sick (pathological) to well (normal) to fit (better than normal). These include but are not limited to blood pressure, cholesterol, heart rate, body fat, muscle mass, flexibility, and strength. It seems as though all of the body functions that can go awry have states that are pathological, normal, and exceptional and that elite athletes typically show these parameters in the exceptional range. The CrossFit view is that fitness and health are the same thing. It is also interesting to notice that the health professional maintains your health with drugs and surgery each with potentially undesirable side effect whereas the CrossFit Coach typically achieves a superior result always with “side benefit” vs. side effect.
It is a common sentiment to feel that because of the obligations of career and family that you don’t have the time to become as fit as you might like. Here’s the good news: world class, age group strength and conditioning is obtainable through an hour a day six days per week of training. It turns out that the intensity of training that optimizes physical conditioning is not sustainable past forty-five minutes to an hour. Athletes that train for hours a day are developing skill or training for sports that include adaptations inconsistent with elite strength and conditioning. Past one hour, more is not better!