Ask A Crossfitter
The first installment in our “Ask A…” series where we talk to your favorite Paleo celebrities and personalities!
Over the past few years Crossfit has gone from a grassroots functional fitness program to a worldwide functional fitness phenomenon, with thousands of affiliate “boxes”, and a major corporate sponsor to boot (Reebok) not to mention the growing scale of the Crossfit Games which are like the Olympics for its devotees. Why is it that so many Crossfitters eat Paleo?
In this post, we’ll focus on the Paleo / Crossfit connection with Stephanie Gaudreau of Stupid Easy Paleo. As an athlete, CrossFit coach and holistic nutrition practitioner, Stephanie is deeply involved in all aspects of Crossfit and took some time out of her butt kickin, heavy liftin, stupid easying schedule to answer some of your burning Crossfit questions.
Why do Crossfitters Love Paleo So?
That’s like asking what the Mona Lisa was smiling about or why bacon is so awesome…and trust me, CFers like bacon! Seriously though, usually when you start CF it’s all most people can do to remember the movements – like what the heck the difference is between a push press and a push jerk – and not feel like curling up into a ball when the workout’s over.
As time goes by you start to realize that maybe there’s no way to out-exercise a crappy diet. Whether you’re chasing a leaner physique or a faster Grace time, it usually dawns on most people (or their coach beats it into their head) that input affects output. Said another way, you wouldn’t put 87 octane in a race car. Paleo’s emphasis on whole, nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory foods and higher protein / lower (compared to the Standard American Diet) carb intake translates into the edible equivalent of high performance fuel.
The CrossFit x Paleo love affair turned bonding for life is usually helped along by the close knit community nature of boxes. Thirty-day challenges, Paleo potlucks and nutrition workshops are pretty commonplace as gym buddies support each other through their transitions to eating better quality food. When the results start pouring in, whether it’s looking or feeling better or making your way to the top of the whiteboard, it’s usually pretty undeniable: when it comes to CrossFit, it’s all about feeding the machine.
Is CrossFit a Cult?
First, let’s figure out what a cult is. Yes, it’s a term with a negative connotation and a lot of folks who have never done it use it in that way, but it also means something that’s popular or fashionable amongst a group. By that second definition, CrossFit may certainly qualify, as the number of “boxes” – gyms – seems to keep multiplying faster than Starbucks locations. One thing’s for certain, CrossFit is fun and challenging and has a community aspect that no globo gym will ever have which adds to its popularity. The workouts change daily, so it’s hard to get bored and there’s always something to improve on.
Can you leave at any time? Sure (though you may not ever want to once you join). Is there a revered central leader? Coach Greg Glassman – who started CrossFit in a small Santa Cruz garage and co-founded the company in 2000 – is still visible and out in the community today, though each box is independently owned and run. Glassman has his supporters and detractors, but if you ask most CrossFitters who they look up to most, you’re more likely going to hear athlete names like Rich Froning and Sam Briggs – the 2013 CrossFit Games’ fittest man and woman, respectively.
What’s Up With All The Abbreviations? WODm PR, What?!
Just like any sport, CrossFit has its own lingo and learning all the jargon is usually a bit of a curve for most people. There are also no shortage of dirty joke references with actual weightlifting movements like the snatch and clean & jerk (and before you laugh, those are performed in the Olympics!). But why are abbreviations so helpful? When you’re gasping for air after your most recent go at Fran, it’s far simpler to high five the person next to you and say you got a PR – or PB for my British counterparts – rather than, “Well, I do believe that was a personal record.”
Why do you guys n gals wear short shorts with long socks?
Believe it or not, long socks are not a throwback to basketball in the 1970s or merely a way to proclaim your love for bacon or the fact that you’re a bad ass: they‘re actually functional. Case in point? The deadlift. When done properly, this power lifting move requires picking up a heavy barbell straight off the floor, standing up all the way, and lowering it back down. The key is to keep the barbell as close to the body as possible because well, you know, the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. What does all this physics mean? The barbell should drag straight up your shins.
Now, the ladies out there seem to have picked up on this and embraced the tall-socks-for-function-and-fashion idea far more than the guys, and I’ve got to call out my XY counterparts for their tendency to walk around the gym sporting bloody shins after a deadlift workout or even something with lots of Olympic lifts. Girls don’t find it sexy and your coaches aren’t happy that they have to wipe your blood off the barbell with bleach after you’re done with it.
Not a fan of colorful socks? Pick up a pair of black soccer socks and go about smashing your deadlift PR with confidence.
Why do the workouts have girl names?
Because everyone likes posting on FaceBook, “I just did Linda!” and getting either a bunch of likes or confused questions.
Whether it’s Fran, Isabel, Grace, Kelly, Eva or Barbara (there are far more), everyone has both a favorite and one that they wish would just go away forever. The story behind The Girl WODs – introduced between 2003 and 2004 – is that they’re used as benchmark workouts to do every so often for a measure of progress. Since CrossFit is constantly varied, it was necessary to have something consistent to test against, hence The Girls. An old article in the CrossFit Journal likens the naming system to the one used by the National Weather Service to name hurricanes which is quite telling when you discover the first Girl WODs were named Angie, Barbara, Chelsea, Diane, Elizabeth and Fran.
And now you know.
What’s Your Favorite Oly Lift Name?
T-shirts have been devoted to it and it’s been the source of so many jokes and double entendres. Without a doubt, it’s got to be the snatch.
What is it really? It’s a lift in which the barbell is taken in one smooth motion from ground to overhead and is notoriously more challenging than the clean and jerk because of the subtle mastery of balance and coordination that’s required (for comparison, the clean and jerk is two parts: floor to shoulder and shoulder to overhead).
Tabata, Coach, who are all these people?
Izumi Tabata was a Japanese scientist who studied the effects of short bursts of exercise followed by a short recovery period. He concluded that high intensity, short duration exercise had benefits for the aerobic and anaerobic energy pathways in the body. I tend to think of him as a sadistic man – though I’m sure in real life he was pretty nice – because doing a tabata (the exercise scheme named for him) is pure torture. What’s required is eight rounds of 20 seconds on – doing the exercise – followed by 10 seconds off – aka the shortest rest period ever. Try it right now. Set a timer for four minutes and sprint your hardest through a tabata of air squats. Or sit ups. Or push ups. Ouch, right?!
Coach is the way folks refer to Coach Greg Glassman, the co-founder of CrossFit. He brought the sport and its affiliate system to the masses, and now it’s exploding worldwide and growing every day. Chances are there’s a CrossFit box in your neighborhood and now you know enough to maybe want to check it out!
Connect with Stephanie!