We get this question quite often from people that aren't familiar with our gym. We've tried to stay away from this polarizing topic for quite a while now - especially considering the volume of blogs and articles already written on the topic. This post isn't meant to sway anyone's opinion in any direction - we really just want to have a definitive answer to how we are NOT CrossFit, and why we do things differently. That's the key point here, we're not saying CrossFit is good or bad; the way we do things at Achieve Fitness is just different.
Here's the thing: CrossFit's done an incredible job at making compound barbell lifts (both Olympic and Power lifts) mainstream to the masses. They've also completely redefined what a traditional gym looks like in the eyes of the consumer. The typical rows of treadmills, ellipticals, and weight machines have been replaced with barbells, squat racks, rings, sleds, and kettlebells. Gyms are now "Boxes" - barebones warehouse facilities with tons of open space to perform technical lifts in a group setting. Keep in mind, many sports performance facilities had adopted this type of gym setting long before CrossFit was around. But, it makes perfect sense as to why the lay population would believe that any gym that doesn't look like a traditional "gym" must be a CrossFit.
That's really where the similarities stop; however.
Competition is built into the design of CrossFit. Every single "WOD" (Workout of the Day) is timed with complex and technical moves. This means that fitter people and athletes are naturally going to gravitate towards CrossFit. This segment of the population isn't intimidated by the gym or constantly being compared to others. They fit well with CrossFit's culture of "Forging Elite Fitness".
The general population is quickly realizing that CrossFit is a superior alternative to the rows of treadmills and light dumbbells that plague most gyms, which is one of the reasons for CrossFit's explosive growth. However, this growth comes at the cost of quality. The sheer volume of "Boxes" popping up everywhere is due to the minimal requirements needed to open one. Essentially, all someone needs is to attend a 3-day Level 1 certification and present CrossFit Headquarters with a $3,000 check every year to use its name. This type of "anyone can open a box" mentality and low entry barrier has lead to a rise of inexperienced coaches suddenly becoming business owners - which has ultimately lead to a decrease in the caliber of coaching, programming, and overall gym experience. Combining these inexperienced coaches with technical lifts in a very competitive setting is one of the reasons for the extremely high injury rates people hear about.
Bear in mind, we know plenty of CrossFit gym owners and coaches who are all excellent at what they do. In fact, some of our own coaches have done CrossFits. So again, I'm not saying that everyone and everything that has to do with CrossFit is bad, I'm just pointing out why its gotten such a bad rap.
This is our mission statement at Achieve Fitness:
Our sole purpose is to help people reach their full potential regardless of their age, gender, and ability level. We feel that we have an obligation to our members to provide a welcoming environment that embraces and empowers each individual to become the best possible version of themselves.
We have a completely different target market; therefore, we've developed a completely different approach, philosophy, and culture. The majority of our members are people who haven't been involved with fitness and athletics for their entire lives, and naturally aren't entirely comfortable with a gym setting - at least initially. Couple that with a sedentary occupation, and the reality is that most people lack the solid foundation that is a prerequisite for the advanced moves typically found in a CrossFit WOD. Over the years, we've gotten pretty good at building that foundation, and we've realized that placing people in an environment of competition and technically challenging lifts is not very conducive to learning and developing a good movement base.
People lacking that foundation and choosing CrossFit is the reason why you see so many "CrossFit Fails" videos on the internet like this one:
But you can also see the benefits from the incredible athletes at the CrossFit games once that foundation has been set:
This is why we employ much more of a "from the ground up" approach. We know exactly who we're working with, and we recognize that we need to go about our training in a much more systematic and programmed way, as opposed to performing a randomized "Workout of the Day". The very nature of WODs (timing, competition, level of difficulty) lends itself to having the most critical part - form, take a backseat to performance.
It's not to say that we don't have a lot of extremely strong and advanced people at Achieve. Once our members establish a good base, we get them really strong and well conditioned - with our primary focus being injury prevention. We want people to have the ability to perform a WOD-type workout, but we feel that there are far better ways to train. We prefer to reach each individuals goal's in a more systematic and organized way. It's the reason why we have actual individualized programs written for each person that changes every 4-6 weeks as our members progress and get stronger. It's also the reason why we rarely have injuries during training. It's because our goal isn't to crush people and just get them better at working out, it's to help our members reach their goals and feel better in everyday life outside the gym.
So, when you get past the physical appearance, we're really nothing like a CrossFit. We don't agree with a lot of their methodology and, as a result, our philosophy and culture are completely different.
Hope this helps to clear up some of the confusion!