The History and Future of CrossFit According to Jonathan Citsay


CrossFit requires little introduction. Even if you’ve never set foot inside a CrossFit gym (known in the community as a “box”), you’ve surely heard plenty about it. Its enthusiasts are infamously vocal (and sometimes obsessive) about its benefits—and for good reason.


When it comes to torching fat and building muscle, nothing hits quite like CrossFit. Boiled down to the basic, it combines a balanced mix of fitness forms ranging from gymnastics and calisthenics to Olympic powerlifting.


Its focus is on intensity, using powerful bursts to melt fat and tone muscle. According to fitness enthusiast Jonathan Citsay, it’s vigorous, exhausting, and ultra-effective. Over the years, it has grown massively in popularity, bringing the enterprise an almost cultish following.


History of CrossFit


It may seem like CrossFit’s popularity materialized out of nowhere and exploded overnight, but it’s roots trace back to gymnast Greg Glassman. Having grown up in the public gymnastic rings of California in the 1970s, Glassman became enraptured with the feelings of euphoria he experienced after pushing his body to the absolute limit. As he trained and became stronger, he found it harder and harder to reach this so-called “nirvana” state following an intense physical workout. That’s when he started exploring.


His explorations, which mixed a rigorously fast-paced mix of weighted bars, squats, pull-ups, and thrusters, began slowly evolving into the CrossFit we know today. After taking a physical training position with the Santa Cruz Police department in the 1990s, CrossFit began gaining traction and notoriety. As its popularity morphed into a full-blown movement, its influence seeped into the general public. Now, more than two decades after Glassman first conceptualized it, Jonathan Citsay notes CrossFit has more than 90,000 affiliates worldwide.


Growing Concerns


CrossFit is still popular and talked about in fitness discourse, but not always for positive reasons. While many still swear by its fat-torching effectiveness, recent years have raised considerable concerns in regard to its overall safety. Injuries are common, especially when improper form or technique is at play. CrossFit training has also been linked closely to the increased risk of rhabdomyolysis— serious syndrome caused by muscle injury which can end in kidney failure.


While the supporting evidence and link to injuries and rhabdomyolysis is undeniable, Jonathan Citsay argues it is largely a lack of form and disregard of safety that leads to injury. Often, CrossFit enthusiasts simply do not take the time to master the movements. Enthusiasts assert that when the exercises are tackled with proper form, the risk for injury is no greater than the risk inherent in any other form of exercise.


Other common hypothesis is that injuries are perpetuated by an overall lack of beginner classes and an increased sense of competition. When those new to CrossFit are thrown into competitive environments with veteran members, they’re far more likely to over-extend, overestimate their abilities, and ultimately injure themselves.


The Future of Cross Fit


While the naysayers may scoff, CrossFit shows no signs of slowing down. As it grows in popularity, it’s also adapting to meet the needs of its expanding audience. As an enterprise that has always challenged the norms and pushed the envelope, Jonathan Citsay believes it will continue to adapt in new and surprising ways.


Like everything in the modern age, CrossFit is evolving alongside technology. Many believe that this era’s so-called “digital revolution,” will likely make it available and accessible to even wider audiences. The result, as forecasted by Jonathan Citsay, will be an increased popularity in the standard consumer market. As technology makes CrossFit increasingly accessible, it’s likely we’ll see it adopted by a wider range of individuals, not just the die-hard CrossFitters who claim boxes as their proud second homes.


The company itself seems to be leaning into such developments with new changes and a shifted focus. In 2018, Glassman announced that the enterprise would end its Regional competitions, seemingly in an effort to move away from CrossFit’s increasingly competitive nature.


Many enthusiasts believe this shift points to a reimagining of CrossFit’s focus and goals. While competitions will still take place, the elimination of Regional events will allow CrossFit to allocate more funds and energy on its original purpose: improving the health and fitness of the general public. As the years progress, CrossFit will likely become less about medals and elite competitions and more about what matters.


As CrossFit’s business practices and stakeholder pool changes with time, programming designs will also be modified slightly. While the specifics of these future modifications may be uncertain, one thing seems definite: CrossFit will continue adapting, heightening its popularity even further as time passes. In Jonathan Citsay’s words, we should get ready to hear a lot more about CrossFit in the coming years.


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