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Functional Fitness, CrossFit and The CrossFit Games

Posted on August 1, 2017 by Margaret Schlachter


Yesterday Dave Castro announced at the athlete dinner in advance of the 2017 Reebok CrossFit Games an additional event, Cyclocross. My guess is many in the room, and online were and are asking, cyclo-what?

Yes Cyclocross, kinda like cyclings version of an obstacle race. You ride a course with obstacles in which you have to jump off your bike and navigate through. Traditionally ridden on a bike that looks similar to a road bike but with tires closer to a mountain bike. Years ago, we profiled professional cyclocross racer, Arley Kemmerer, check that out.

This announcement was in addition to the obstacle course announced a few weeks ago. From the beginning CrossFit, whether you love or hate it, is a thing. While a few elite athletes compete for top rankings, scores of other athletes head to their local box (gym) daily to get their workout on.

While many will say CrossFit is a cult or other nomenclature¬†for workout, it has revolutionized the way we think of exercise and the word “functional fitness”.

So What is Functional Fitness?

Google Functional Fitness and the first thing that comes up (at least on my search engine) is this definition from the Mayo Clinic.

What About Real Life?

Back to Cyclocross, OCR and more in the CrossFit Games. While it’s easy to dismiss CrossFit, talk about injury rates, overtraining, macho attitude, and more. There is something else that CrossFit showcases, the cross section between what you do in the gym and what you do in everyday life or sport.

CrossFit claims to have the fittest athletes in the world, while this may or may not be true. The one thing that events like Cyclocross and Obstacle Racing in the Games do showcase is what you can do with your fitness.

A few years ago, I had a moment in my own training. That “oh my god” moment, when life all comes together. My entire view of fitness and exercise was flipped. It went from how can I get a bigger PR to how can I stay fit enough to be able to do all the things I want to do in life.

Wait, What?

The same time I was coming to the realization I no longer had to measure my self-worth¬†by a podium placing was the same time I started to change my vision of functional fitness and health. I lived in towns which I heard people talk about working out at the gym in off seasons of sports they love (recreationally) and wondering why if you aren’t competing?

Then it all came to me, they were just staying in the shape they wanted in order to be able to do the things they enjoy more. No vanity, no six-pack abs, no selfies at the gym. Nope, these friends just loved to get out in the backcountry on skis, bikes, their feet, or other fun toys and wanted to make sure the limited time they had was the best it could be. Not to mention many of these people are some of the most “extreme” athletes I know.

So back to the CrossFit Games, while the athletes there are almost all professionals at this point in one sense of the word. They are not the above-mentioned athletes. But one thing that the CrossFit Games does is by including events like obstacle racing and cyclocross they show the average viewer just some of the other sports you can you the fitness you gain in CrossFit and apply it to another sport. This ultimately is what should all strive for in society people finding hobbies and passions and then doing what they can to have the best experiences doing them.