Is CrossFit what you need to finally shape-up this year?

We talk to CrossFit expert and trainer Jordan Symonds about whether this high-intesity sport is right for you.

Woman in workout gear doing triceps dips on benches
If you haven’t heard of CrossFit there’s a chance you’re in need of a fitness makeover. Combining powerful movements (think burpees, dead-lifts and tire flips) with endurance training, CrossFit is the athlete’s workout…or is it? With more women than ever signing up, we decided to pick the brain of Jordan Symonds, co-owner of Reebok CrossFit Liberty Village in Toronto, to see if this workout is right for us.

Q: What type of person would you recommend CrossFit to?
A: More or less anyone can do CrossFit — someone who is looking to stay in shape, or get in shape. CrossFit typically will help someone build some strength, increase endurance, build a bit of lean muscle tissues and certainly decrease body fat.

Q: From your experience, what brings women back to your classes time and again?
A: I think CrossFit offers a very different workout experience than the typical gym. We don’t have mirrors, and everyone who shows up is here to have a great workout, and to have fun. I think our classes take out the guess work, take out any intimidation factor and are super effective and fun.

Q: For someone who is not very active, are there beginner classes they can take? Or a better place for them to start?
A: Yes definitely. We believe that it is so important to teach our members the fundamentals initially and progress from there. We offer foundations classes for beginners and they can stay in these classes for as long as the feel they need to, but typically after two weeks members are able to progress to intermediate, or standard classes.

Q: How can CrossFit help people beyond weight loss?
A: I know a lot of our members come for the workouts, as well as the community aspect we have created within the gym. A lot of our members get to know each other, help each other with their workouts, with their eating habits, with general support and a lot of people make new friends. I think in general we are helping to improve the quality of peoples’ lives, not only their fitness.

Q: Why do you think CrossFit has exploded so much for women in the last few years?
A: I think CrossFit has blown the doors off the notion that being strong is only for men. You know the saying, ‘Strong is the new skinny’. I think that CrossFit is empowering women to want to feel strong and fit.

Q: How careful do people need to be to ensure they’re avoiding injury when they’re just starting out?
A: Certainly people need to be careful, and technique and safety are of utmost importance. The beauty of our classes is they are coached from start to finish by a certified CrossFit coach whose main job is to teach people proper technique and keep them safe while working out. Relative to the number of people we have come through in a day or week, we have a low-incidence of injury.

Here are the 10 principles Jordan follows:
1. Check your ego at the door
2. Technique, consistency, intensity
3. When in doubt, ask the coach
4. Scaled options are given for appropriate levels, use them
5. Neutral spine all the time
6. If anything is painful stop and ask a coach
7. Push yourself within a level you are still comfortable with
8. Take rest breaks when you need to
9. Eat a well-rounded meal 1-2 hours prior to doing CrossFit
10. Building a strong core is crucial for a good foundation

For more on the effectiveness of CrossFit click here.