The emergence of Crossfit has forever changed the landscape of the fitness industry. For the most part I'm supportive of the discipline, with a couple caveats.
First, Crossfit has brought intensity back into the gym. And wow, it was needed. For a couple of years, trainers seemed so concerned with "fixing movement patterns" that they were afraid to have people actually train.
One major aspect left out of many courses for trainers (which I aim to fill with Ignite the Fire) is coaching acumen. I've said many times that the importance of the quality of a program pales in comparison to one's ability to get a client to want to complete that program. CrossFit's emphasis on community and coaching principles is a welcome addition"”and something that any fitness coach or trainer should adopt.
Second, CrossFit has finally broken the "hamster wheel" mold. CrossFit emphasizes primal movement patterns and full body movements instead of moving the body in a determined and constrained movement while sitting on a machine.
Finally, there's the diet aspect of CrossFit, which is based on a "paleo" plan. While I think that the word "paleo" has lost all meaning and therefore needs to be thrown in the proverbial elephant graveyard along with "functional," "core," and "metabolic conditioning", I love how CrossFit considers nutrition and exercise as equally important. The nutrition requirements are simple and easy to follow enough.
Now the bad points.
First, the programming can be asinine. The barrier of entry to become an instructor and open up a "box" (CrossFit studio) is too low. The result is too many individuals that are unfit to train such an extreme and potentially dangerous discipline are instructing "WOD"s (Workout of the Day). There are countless fantastic coaches and boxes with great programs but there are also a lot of bad ones.
I'd have a hard time coming up with anything more dangerous to anybody other than elite-level athletes than prescribing complicated, full-body movements like Olympic lifts in a fatigued state.
I'm sure that some will read this and note that the form of CrossFit Games' athletes is typically good. There are exceptions to every rule, and elite-level athletes are exceptions. I'm talking about the average gym-goer, even if he or she is willing to train hard"”and those are the people who come to CrossFit.
Finally I'd like to add a note on competition over form. Not everybody is an athlete and not everybody can withstand poor form. "Kipping" pull-ups are a great way to blow out a rotator cuff. Mix this in an exhausting circuit with an overhead press and it's dangerous. Now add in an element of competition with spectators yelling to keep going and "push through it" and you've got a recipe for disaster.
CrossFit certainly has its advantages. I love that intensity is being brought back into the gym. In the past few years there's been a promising development with better-trained CrossFit coaches and more responsible training, complete with appropriate progressions and regressions. I just hope that this continues.