4 Reasons Why CrossFit Really Works

CC BY 2.0. Amber Karnes

If your New Year's resolution is to get in shape, then learn how CrossFit works and why it's an effective system for getting people in shape -- and keeping them there.

The month of January will see a huge spike in gym memberships, as people follow up on their New Year’s resolutions to get in shape. Unfortunately, by the end of the month, only a few will stick with it, while most people will fall back into old patterns that don’t involve regular physical activity.

I, too, used to struggle with knowing how to get in shape. I never played organized sports as a kid and conventional gyms intimidated me. The one time I got a membership at the local YMCA, I felt so daunted by all the strange equipment and bored by the machines that I gave up after a few weeks. I tried pilates, spinning, yoga, boot camp, but the results were not what I wanted, or else they didn't stick.

Then, two and a half years ago, I discovered CrossFit. I went from being anti-gym and fairly inactive (except for everyday exercise such as walking, biking, and the occasional yoga class) to being in great shape, with more strength and energy than ever. Best of all, I looked forward to going to the gym 2 to 3 times a week.

Since then, I’ve become an advocate for CrossFit because I believe it’s a system that is designed to help regular people – not just the insanely ripped “fittest man and woman on earth” who appear on TV during the annual CrossFit Games – succeed at getting and staying in shape. Here’s why it works:

Workouts are universally scalable.

Everyone does the same workout-of-the-day (WOD), but everyone is at different levels of technical ability and strength. It doesn’t matter where you’re at, because each activity can be modified. For example, if you can’t do a pull-up, you can stand on a box and do jumping pull-ups, or add an elastic band to help pull you upward.

Workouts are pre-determined, and there are time limits.

Because the daily WOD is posted for the whole gym, the responsibility for coming up with an effective workout is removed from the individual. You can show up and do the work without thinking about it, which is hugely helpful for someone new to the gym world. The WODs usually have time caps or a pre-determined amount of work that should be completed before you quit, which means the end is always in sight.

CrossFit teaches real skills.

I never thought I’d develop an appreciation for barbells and free weights, but I’ve grown to love deadlifts, clean and jerks, front and back squats, etc. Every class dedicates time to the development of skills, where the coach breaks down the movements and shows the group how to practice.

The community is great.

When you like the people with whom you work out, it’s easy to keep going back. The community aspect of CrossFit has huge appeal because you’re all doing the same WODs together and it creates an atmosphere of friendly competition. People hold each other accountable and cheer each other on, unlike in a regular gym where everyone does their own solitary thing.

You won’t know if you love or hate it until you’ve tried it, so why not give it a shot? 2015 may be your year to get in shape like never before, and CrossFit can definitely help you do that.