At Sassy Healthy Fit, we strive to bring you a wide-variety of information from experts in different areas of health and wellness, so you are empowered with the education you need to be successful! We are excited to bring you this informative interview by Andrew Araza of Innate Fitness to talk more about CrossFit and Functional Fitness as an amazing workout for women.
What is CrossFit? How is it different than other types of workouts/personal training?
First and foremost, I want to make it clear that at Innate Fitness, we’ve shifted away from traditional CrossFit and we are now a functional fitness (exercise that makes you strong, look good, and makes life easier) training facility based around personal training and group classes. We strive to help our clients live their best lives and work towards achieving their health and fitness goals and dreams.
Ok, so CrossFit is SO many things. It is a workout program that combines bodyweight training like pushups, pull ups, burpees, squats, lunges, all the abs, gymnastic training. Different types of weightlifting from the basic squat, press, deadlift to the advanced Olympic weightlifting movements (clean & jerk and snatch). Cardiovascular based exercises like box jumps/steps, running, rowing, biking, jump rope.
CrossFit takes these movements and blends them all up into an infinite variety of workouts, so you can be fit across a broad spectrum: From short, intense workouts to longer more conditioning based workouts. You might have a 10-minute body-weight workout one day consisting of pull ups, push-ups and squats. The next day might be a mile run for time. The next day you work on strength with the squat and press and do a 20-minute conditioning workout with jump rope, burpees a weightlifting movement and an ab movement.
Outside of the strength and conditioning program that is CrossFit, CrossFit is also known as the “sport of fitness” because it often focuses on your “score” (i.e. how many reps you did in a given workout, how long a workout took to complete etc.), one benefit is the workouts are measurable and repeatable, showing you concrete evidence of progress and improvement which can be very motivating.
On the boutique gym side of CrossFit, CrossFit is not a franchise like Orange Theory Fitness, where they have very specific standards about how a class is run etc. CrossFit is an affiliation in which a gym owner will become a certified instructor, buy the affiliation to use the brand name, but then have their own style and approach as far as experience, what type of training is most important, community, personality etc.
Who can benefit from CrossFit? Specifically, what benefit does this style of workout provide to women?
I think everyone can benefit from CrossFit done WELL! Women especially can build amazing strength and confidence through CrossFit. Some women don’t always believe in their strength or physical capabilities, through CrossFit they can transform that and regularly perform feats they never thought possible and blow untrained men out of the water!
BUT, just like with so many other disciplines and professions there’s a huge variety of CrossFit gyms and programs. Someone who is 80+ with injuries should be able to participate in CrossFit. The problem lies in not taking enough time upfront to learn how to do the movements safely and well, rushing into a group class with potentially difficult movements, and being overwhelmed, getting overly sore or beat up from the workouts, and potentially injured.
We spend a lot of 1-on-1 time with people upfront, so we can get to know them and their goals, their injury and exercise history and teach them how to do the movements well and safely. If someone is interested in CrossFit I highly recommend they take 4-12 weeks or more, depending on their fitness and mobility level, and do personal training with a great coach to build a really strong and safe foundation of mobility, movement patterns and confidence related to the movements and workouts.
With all the choices of boutique style workouts available, how can an individual assess whether CrossFit is the best choice for her?
Try it out! Do a 1-on-1 introduction with a coach, do not have your first experience be in a group class. If one of your ladies is interested in strength(i.e. they’d like to build lean muscle, do a body-weight pull up eventually) and a well-rounded, athletic program CrossFit could be a great fit. Like I said you’ve got to find the right gym, coaches, and community for it to be the best choice. Read reviews online, stop by and get a feel for the place. Please, please, please do not base your decision on the CrossFit games, so often I hear “I’m not doing CrossFit because I don’t want to get bulky.” The women that get bulky are doing so many workouts and lifting so much weight and eating so much to support all of that, they’re genetically predisposed and or using some sort of supplement to do that. For 99% of women, doing CrossFit well will result in tightening, toning and building a great, lean physique.
What are complimentary workouts to CrossFit (for example…yoga, Pilates, hiking…)?
Yoga for sure, with all the strength work done in CrossFit people don’t typically stretch enough. Pilates would be great especially if one feels that their core connection isn’t the best. Other than that I encourage people to use their fitness to get out and do what they love. Some people fall in love with CrossFit and that’s all they want to do for their movement, but long term it’s best to spread it out, play sports, hike, get out with the kids, and have a very broad movement practice.
To get the most benefit from a CrossFit workout, how many days/week is ideal?
3 Days a week is a sweet spot, add in some other exercise like biking/spinning, hiking and you’re good to go. As far as results, if you’re on a good nutrition plan to reach your goals, CrossFit typically gets great results with 3 days a week workout.
What can a new member expect from a body composition perspective with CrossFit? In particular, what should one expect after one month, 3 months, 6 months, 1 year, etc?
Those body composition changes are largely based on nutrition, but typically if someone is moving well in one month they will get quite a bit stronger, 3 months noticeable gains in lean muscle, 6 months or a year could mean a great transformation depending on how much body fat one started with and what the nutrition plan is like.
If you have any physical limitations or injuries can you still do CrossFit? How is it modified to adjust to the individual’s needs?
Yes, definitely. If done well CrossFit can help a person recovery from injuries and get stronger and more fit that ever before. But, without good coaching and some personal training up front, it’s a bad idea. A person should know exactly what they need to avoid or work on before they go into a group CrossFit class, and they should have a customized prehab/rehab routine to be working on the injury or limitation while they build their strength and conditioning through CrossFit. A good coach can modify a workout, movement or program an infinite number of ways. We make sure to check in with people every day to make sure they’re doing the right movements and workouts based on where they’re coming from and their goals.
We have some good experience doing so, but we also refer to physical therapists and my brother, Dr. Nick at Santa Barbara Family Chiropractic, especially for people dealing with back issues.
What kind of nutrition plan best compliments CrossFit?
We don’t follow any nutritional dogma because it’s such an individual topic based on goals, needs, beliefs and sensitivity to different foods. Whole food diets are the best, eliminating bread and grain products typically works wonders, making sure to get sufficient protein is essential, in general for women ~120g/day, men ~160g/day and sufficient carbohydrates ad healthy fats because it can be such a metabolically demanding exercise program. We recommend experimentation, food journaling, and getting a good coach or working a program because nutrition has so much to do with achieving those fitness goals.
Thank you Andrew for this fantastic information! We know our audience of In Demand Women will greatly benefit from what you shared and hopefully they will come check out your gym locally in Santa Barbara or find a similar location near their home wherever they may be!
Innate Fitness is offering a FREE 1-on-1 consultation, assessment and mini workout to our SHF community! Just mention “Sassy Healthy Fit” when you book your appointment!
Andrew Araza is the owner and head coach at Innate Fitness (an awesome, functional personal training and group fitness gym with a great community) in Santa Barbara, CA. He’s been coaching and helping people transform their health and fitness for over a decade. He specializes in helping people overcome pain, injury and intimidation to get into a great fitness and nutrition routine.