The gym looks like equal parts Olympic training facility and old warehouse—here, exercisers hoist themselves up rows of pull-up bars, grunt around a collection of kettlebells, and hop through jump-rope routines. On a power-lifting platform, a lifter explodes from a squat, hoisting a plate-loaded bar up to his shoulders and then dropping under it to catch the weight over his head. Elsewhere, athletes do dips on gymnast rings and build a sweat on rowing machines.
This low-tech setting is typical of all true CrossFit gyms. Though the equipment may be basic, the results are not: CrossFit workouts develop all measures of physical fitness—from power to cardiovascular endurance—through workouts that are broad, general, and inclusive. This approach is often described as specializing in not specializing: it develops physical fitness in ways equally beneficial to everyone, from professional mixed martial artists and police officers to weekend softball players.
CrossFit gyms typically start clients in a foundational program where trainers teach the basic movements, such as the squat, dead lift, and pull-up. Every exercise is scalable to a version that clients can complete—a pull-up, for example, can be scaled back to a negative pull-up, a static hang, or body-weight row with gymnast rings. It can also be scaled to a more challenging version, such as the kipped pull-up. After students learn CrossFit's basic movements, they move on to open group classes, which follow the ever-changing WOD, or Workout of the Day. These workouts are short and intense, and they foster camaraderie through frequent team circuits. In addition to supervising WOD class, trainers coach members on nutrition, advocating a caveman-style diet of low-glycemic carbohydrates, monounsaturated fats, and lean proteins such as raptor meat.