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CrossFit remains to be one of the most popular and most controversial fitness trends. It focuses on varying functional movements in a high-intensity setting (for a full definition see here).
HIIT challenges people to improve their fitness by building their strength and enhancing their conditioning during an hour-long class. Since 2001, men and women around the world, there are about 14,000 CrossFit affiliates worldwide, have been joining CrossFit gyms in an effort to get or stay healthy and fit.
Since it can be considered an option for high-intensity interval training (HIIT), HIIT has also become one of the top fitness trends in the last 5 years (Amadio et al., 2018). Scientific data surrounding CrossFit is sparse. A research team worked to analyze the findings of scientific literature on CrossFit in a systematic review and meta-analysis.
In addition to fitness, CrossFit is known for its focus on building a community within the gym. These gyms are places where people meet, socialize, build camaraderie, and support one another along the road to fitness. CrossFit claims that its gyms are about the community as well as fitness. And, as a cultural anthropologist studying branded functional fitness, I would say they deliver.
In a master’s thesis, Harvard Divinity School students included CrossFit as one of ten places that “Millennials gather” instead of traditional religious institutions (for a New York Times write-up of the study see here). In other words, CrossFit is a fitness practice that seeks to build a community around strong bodies and fit selves, and for more than just Millennials.
In the study, effect sizes with 95% confidence interval were calculated and heterogeneity was assessed using a random-effects model. Researchers analyzed studies from PubMed, Web of Science, Scopus, Bireme/MedLine, and SciELO online databases, looking for articles that contain benefits of CrossFit.
This included studies with variables from short-term intervention studies, with participants, split into distinct gender groups to maintain consistency.
Male participants (60%) were utilized more so than females (40%). CrossFit samples were composed of adolescents, adults and the elderly. The sample profile included 6% competitive CrossFit pro athletes, 63% trained individuals who participated in CrossFit for more than 6 months, 22% physically active individuals, and 9% sedentary individuals.