CrossFit routines like Cindy and the Murph push the envelope

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      It’s hard to argue with Nathan Mellalieu when he says that riding a stationary bike while watching the news is only so motivating. For health and fitness enthusiasts looking for encouragement, the personal trainer and Studeo 55 owner suggests they turn to CrossFit, an exercise regimen that’s used by military units, police academies, and fire departments.

      As the form continues to gain in popularity in Vancouver and abroad, Mellalieu says it’s the kind of workout that pushes men and women to give it their sweaty all, time and again.

      “No one wants to be a treadmill champion or bench-press champion,” the former college football player says in an interview from Studeo 55. “CrossFit lifts people up, inspires people, and encourages people; it’s playful fun.

      “CrossFit is booming,” he adds. “It’s the most efficient way to get people fit. It doesn’t aim to have people specialize in anything but to be very good at everything. People who do it might not win the Boston marathon, but they could probably finish it. It helps you get to a point where the body can take on whatever you ask of it. It’s awesome.”

      “Burpees”, squats, dead lifts, power lifting, and sprinting are just some of the common moves CrossFit asks of its participants. Some routines involve a certain number of repetitions, while others are timed. Take the “Cindy” (some workouts are named after women): it calls for five pull-ups, 10 pushups, and 15 squats, with the sequence being done as many times as possible in 20 minutes.

      The “Murph”, meanwhile—which gets its name from soldier Michael Murphy, who was 29 when he was killed in Afghanistan in 2005—consists of a one-mile run, 100 pull-ups, 200 pushups, 300 squats, and another one-mile run, done for time.

      “Whatever it is you’re doing, you’re working to the max,” Mellalieu says. “Say you might be doing the Cindy. The first couple of rounds you might be thinking, ‘Okay, this isn’t so bad,’ but by the end, you’re totally exhausted.

      “It’s all about functional movement,” he adds. “It’s not the Ringling Brothers’ Circus, where you’re standing on a ball on one foot while catching a tennis ball in one hand….It’s anything a caveman might have had to do, compound movements that involve many joints and muscles.”

      Besides functional movements (which replicate gestures used in daily life), CrossFit’s two other key components are high intensity and constant variety. According to the form’s website, it can be used by everyone from elite athletes to the elderly, as long as the intensity and load are tailored to each individual. So even though many of the workouts call for participants to wear a weighted vest if they have one handy, that particular option wouldn’t likely be used with older people.

      By doing the workouts regularly, however, people can expect to improve their endurance, strength, flexibility, speed, agility, power, balance, coordination, accuracy, and stamina, the site claims.

      More and more women are turning to CrossFit, Mellalieu notes. Part of the appeal of group classes for both sexes is that it’s easy to be motivated, physically and mentally.

      “Where are you going to perform best: if you’re doing it in your basement by yourself or you’re in a room with 15 other people you respect and admire, with a timing clock, and an instructor encouraging you, helping you bring out the best in you? That increases the likelihood of giving it your all. It involves accountability. Every day you can feel you gave it your best. And if you did 15 rounds last time, chances are the next day you’re going to do 16.

      “It’s a chance to test your heart—and I don’t mean your cardiovascular system,” he adds. “It pushes people to their limits, and every day you redefine what you’re capable of.”


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      Jan 5, 2012 at 8:47pm

      one-mile run, 100 pull-ups, 200 pushups, 300 squats, and another one-mile run? kind of bizaare work out, easy amount of cardio then crazy hard amount of the rest.

      J Blake

      Jan 6, 2012 at 9:09am

      Morgus - Try Murph and then comment on what you think. Crossfit workouts are "for time" so you are working as fast as you can to finish the 100 pull-ups, 200 pushups and 300 squats. You can divide it up how you want (10 rounds of 10pull-ups, 20pushups, 30squats- or however you like). This part is hard enough, let alone having a run before and after it.
      The whole workout is hard and is "cardio" as you put it, because like Nathan mentions in the article, one of the fundamentals of Crossfit is intensity. Murph is a "hero" workout and is quite challenging. A beginner would not attempt to do Murph for quite awhile, or may do a scaled down version.

      Boo Olivia

      Jan 6, 2012 at 11:12pm

      Unfortunately there is little emphasis on developing skill and talent. Crossfit focuses on making you tired, not on making you better.

      Crossfit is good if you're a former athlete, fireman, police officer or were involved in the military for some time. For everybody else, there are far more effective ways of getting fit without the dangers of many crossfit workouts, and without making you feel the necessity of competition or inadequacy.

      Community involvement is great, the seminars are great, it's everything else that I question...

      strength coach who knows

      Jan 8, 2012 at 1:38pm

      It would be better if you interviewed a true professional - someone with real credentials and the experience to back the academics before you publish articles such as this. This article is biased and misinforming. What is "Functional Training" anyways? I am disappointed that this publication is contributing to the trendy crap in the fitness industry that produces more injuries and trips to the psychologist that it does well-balanced human with good physical literacy.


      Feb 2, 2012 at 9:05am

      This franchise is an injury factory. If you're 18 years old, go for it. Otherwise find something you like and do it consistenly. You'll like the results!


      Feb 3, 2012 at 5:17pm

      as a 28 year old guy who actively does yoga, spin classes, running, weight lifting, tabata classes, etc, i can easily say crossfit gives the fastest results. yes, it's crazy hard. but if you can't commit to it mentally, then hop back on the elliptical. crossfit is absolutely not for everyone. but if you CAN do it, you'll be happy you did.

      Concerned Coach

      Feb 10, 2012 at 9:16pm

      There are many downsides to programming such as CrossFit. The methodology itself is a recipe for injury and the watered down "certification" process leaves an massive opening for poorly trained coaches taking people through higher risk movements.

      Coaches should know how to screen people properly before throwing extreme task at them. CrossFit is random, unstructured and promotes some movements that are deleterious to the joints.

      The brass at Studeo 55 should spend more time focusing on pragmatic programming and less time dick leaching and riding the bandwagon of hot trends.


      Mar 18, 2012 at 10:14am

      Wow a lot of negative nellies here. I actually disagree with nearly everything negative that is being said here.

      Firstly, form and technique is very important. People regularly get hectored for squat depth, opening their hips on a box jump, or rounded backs on a deadlift. Technique is actually one of the most interesting elements of Xfit.

      Secondly, sure someone who is untrained is dangerous, that is why at my affiliate we have a beginner's course.

      Thirdly, yes it isn't for everyone, if it was no one would do it. But after working on my technique I now can do a 205# clean and jerk and a 400# deadlift, all without injury. Boy I must be lucky!

      I am tired of "experts" telling me how much I need them. Honestly, at a conventional gym, I really don't see anyone pushing themselves, whereas at a Xfit gym you see it DAILY. I guess my problem with the nay sayers is that they aren't doing anything to improve the physical culture of North America all they do is criticize what they poorly understand.