CHIEF WARRANT OFFICER 3 JOE GALBRAITH
A Company, 2-211th General Support Aviation Battalion
West Jordan, Utah
AMRAP. EMOM. WOD. If you are familiar with these acronyms, then you have sought means of exercise beyond the average physical readiness training program. You are one of the millions of Americans that has participated in the phenomenon known as CrossFit. Not surprisingly, many Soldiers have also been drawn to this new style of exercise, in part because of its functionality related to the battlefield.
I belong to a neighborhood “box,” which is another term for a CrossFit gym. I can attest to the positive results I have seen in my Army Physical Fitness Test score since joining. Some argue this type of program may have above-average injury rates due to its intensity. While there are several studies on the subject currently underway, I can say I have remained relatively injury free in the two years I have participated. I won’t attempt to further the debate on CrossFit injury rates. Instead, I want to provide some safety tips for those who are looking to join a CrossFit gym.
Like most others in the military, I often find myself on TDY to attend various types of training. This is a great opportunity to seek out other CrossFit gyms around the country. It is fun to experience different locations, meet new coaches and members, and maybe even purchase a cool new T-shirt.
Even though most CrossFit gyms take great pride in this culture and brand, it is important to take appropriate precautions before participating. With the increase in popularity of CrossFit, more than one gym can usually be found in a given location. Therefore do your research and be selective. Here are a few tips to follow when choosing a box:
• Check the gym’s website. Having a good website shows the operators are serious about their business. You should be able to find workout schedules, prices and even the coaches’ bios. You can view pictures to see what types of equipment the gym offers.
• Try to attend with a friend. That same guy or girl that has been making fun of you for your compression shorts and long socks may end up being a CrossFit convert. This, of course, will also increase safety. If an injury does occur, a friend will be handy when it comes to seeking treatment or reaching emergency contacts.
• Do a good recon of the location. Most of these gyms are in repurposed warehouses that may be in less-traveled parts of town. Ask locals if that part of town is safe.
• Drop in early to view the previous workout. Is the coach involved? Do they use proper technique? Do they do a good warm up and cool down?
• Ensure the gym has serviceable equipment and it is kept in a sanitary condition. Do they inspect bars, ropes, racks, etc.? Do they have cleaning products available to wipe down equipment? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, which is also known as a staph infection, can infect athletes that share surfaces and equipment.
• Acclimate yourself to the local climate. Changes in humidity, temperature and elevation may not allow you to perform as you did at your home gym. Take a session at half speed before going right into your Rx, or prescribed workout.
Whether you are a competitor training for the CrossFit Games or just trying to improve you APFT score like me, make sure you are prepared. As professional Soldiers, we should always manage the risk involved in everything we do. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 — Go!
Currently, CrossFit gyms can be found in 142 countries across all seven continents. For those unfamiliar with CrossFit, here are some popular acronyms and terms used at the gyms.
EMOM Every Minute on the Minute
AMRAP As Many Rounds As Possible
WOD Workout of the Day
Rx Prescribed work out