Life extension was the main reason I bought into the CrossFit methodology. At their Level 1 seminar, Pat Sherwood was one of the instructors and discussed how teaching his grandmother proper squatting mechanics has kept her out of the “old folks home.” Pat’s lessons allowed her to enjoy her golden years free of disastrous falls and avoid needing the use of canes or other assistive devices.
- Motion is Lotion – in order to maintain joint health we need to move our joints through their entire available range of motion. If you do not use it you will likely lose it. The investment in “functional training” now will save you a lot of dough on orthopedic bills in the future. Total knee, hip and even shoulder replacements are commonplace in our aging population and it certainly does not have to be. The number one reason for most of these surgeries is a lack of range of motion.
- Muscle – research continues to show that the more muscle you have the more you slow down the aging process. You become less likely to fall and break something that can lead to serious health risks and more importantly you continue to have the ability to participate in all sorts of fun activities like playing sports with your children or grandchildren.
- Knowing Your Body is Knowing Yourself – being prepared for the unknown and unknowable is the basis of CrossFit. Some coaches will not reveal the workout until minutes before it takes place. The focus on gymnastics (the art of controlling your own body), Olympic lifting (the art of controlling an external object), and metabolic conditioning (the science behind your energy usage and ability to push through the pain that develops in a workout) all lead to more confidence in using your body. The constant exposure to these varying stimuli is what prepares you for the randomness of life including slips on ice, escaping an attacker or most anything else.
- Hormonal Balance – Hormones control our physical and mental health. Exercise appears to have positive effects on many hormones that may influence life extension. High intensity training seems to have even more positive effects including changing your genetic expression. Imbalances of testosterone and/or estrogen among a litany of other hormones can be very disabling later in life. Participating in a program that includes weight training and metabolic conditioning can be the key to maintaining the proper balance of many of these hormones (along with proper nutrition, sleep and stress management of course).
- Socialization – the major selling point of CrossFit for many participants is the community aspect of it. You compete against yourself but also against everyone else in your class. You will also be performing the same movements as the fittest on earth, as seen on ESPN, and there are now over 10,000 affiliates worldwide where the same fitness language is used. You can travel to Tokyo, Las Vegas or Johannesburg and find the nearest CrossFit box, drop-in for a workout and be doing the same workout your box is back in NYC. Everyone who does CrossFit knows what “Fran” is, and worse, what it feels like. This shared bond creates instant friendships and community. Check out “The Power of Community” by Dr. Allison Belger for an in depth look at this topic.
I view aging as a constant loss of balance – not just physical balance but emotional and physiological as well. Daily living and inactivity provide constant streams of damage. We have to constantly reverse the damage and fight an uphill battle to slow the aging process. CrossFit is an excellent way to help empower us and navigate the potential damage that life will throw at us.
See you at the box.
Bo Babenko is a Doctor of Physical Therapy, and has been coaching CrossFit in NYC for the past 3 years, currently at Reebok CrossFit 5th Ave and is a Level 2 trainer. He is committed to the pursuit of improving the human body by combining science with practicality. He is set to move to Dubai to run CrossFit Gold Box, firstname.lastname@example.org, IG: @sleepdoctor, Tw: @BoBabenko, FB: www.facebook.com/BoBabenko