What Is CrossFit?

The Day I Did 75 Overhead Squats and 75 Pullups, photo by Mike Bledsoe

Exercise is a critical component to getting healthy and staying healthy.  Everyone knows this.  Moving your body gets all your juices flowing.  Mostly importantly it increases blood and lymphatic circulation, both of which speed up the detoxification and healing process.

Exercise was an important component of my hardcore all natural anti-cancer regimen. Especially short runs and rebounding. But I didn’t do much weight training…

And I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I had a local gym membership at
French Rivera Spa (not nearly as fancy as it sounds) that I’ve barely used in the last 10 years.
The only reason I kept renewing is because it was super cheap.
I had a “VIP” membership for $120 per year. That’s $10 bucks a month!
It was an amazing deal but I never went because :
1) It wasn’t motivated
2) I didn’t have a work out plan
3) Working out alone is the pits

CrossFit got me excited about working out again.

So what exactly is Crossfit?

CrossFit is the principal strength and conditioning program for many police academies, military special operations units, champion martial artists, and hundreds of other elite and professional athletes worldwide.

CrossFit training delivers a fitness that is by design, broad and inclusive. The specialty is not specializing. Combat, survival, sports, and life reward this kind of fitness and on average, punish the specialist.

The CrossFit program is designed for universal scalability making it the perfect application for any committed individual regardless of experience. The same routines for are used for elderly individuals with heart disease and top athletes. We scale load and intensity; we don’t change programs.

Ok that’s how explains it, here’s how I describe it:

CrossFit is like a cross between all forms of fitness training:
Military style training, weight lifting, power lifting, running, rowing, gymnastics, and everything else.

Remember Rocky IV when he’s training in siberia with an ox yoke and whatever else he can rig up in the barn?

That’s CrossFit.

The Difference
Unlike most workout programs it’s not just about getting bigger muscles or losing weight.
CrossFit is about comprehensive fitness: increasing your strength, endurance, flexibility, power, speed, balance, and coordination.
If you want to get stronger you will. If you want to lose weight you will.
I personally gained 13 lbs of muscle in the first three months, training 2-3 days per week.
Don’t worry ladies, you’re not going to bulk up, unless you want to.

CrossFit workouts focus on functional movements using multiple muscle groups
and they employ nearly every compound exercise on the planet:
Pushups, pull-ups, dips, sit-ups, sprints, hurdles, box jumps, bench press, squat, snatch, power cleans, dead lift, kettle bells, and a bunch of other ones with names you may not recognize like: Turkish get-ups, burpees, pistols, and deadbugs.
And yes they will teach you how to do them all correctly.

And it’s competitive.
The classes have competitive timed workout at the end, and if you really get into it, there are local, regional, and national CrossFit events like the Faction Games and CrossFit Games.

Variation is key
In order to continue to progress in fitness you have to keep changing it up.
Do the same three workouts three days a week for a few months and you’re going to get bored and plateau.
At CrossFit every workout is different, I love it because I don’t have to think about what workout to do when I get to the gym.

I just show up and do the workout that’s already planned out for me.

The CrossFit Class
Another thing I like a lot is that you aren’t working out by yourself.
You are in a personal training class with 2-20 other people, depending on who shows up.
And you’re all doing the same workout together.
It’s a competitive yet encouraging atmosphere and camaraderie abounds.

A typical 1 hour class is divided into three sections:
Warm Up, Strength Training, and Metabolic Conditioning (Met Con).

The first two sections are self explanatory.
The Met Con is a timed workout with several exercises, kind of like circuit training.
You’re typically doing a lot of reps or multiple sets with relatively heavy weights
and little to no rest between sets. It’s always super tough.
Some days you may leave with a few scrapes, blisters, and bruises, but no pain no gain right!

If you like to compete you can put your finish time on the board
and see how you stacked up against everyone else that day.

Here’s an example of a class I did last week:
(There are tons of CrossFit videos online, just Google the exercise if my explanations don’t make sense.)

WARM UP (3 Rounds)
10 Overhead Squats (body weight, holding a pvc pipe overhead)
5 Box Jumps (I was jumping onto a 3 ft box stack, yes there are shorter ones)
5 Deck Squats (like going from a sit-up to standing up in one fast fluid motion)

STRENGTH TRAINING (3-5 sets of heavy weight)
Power Snatch (5 reps)
Handstand pushups (5 reps)
Side Bridge (lay on your side and hold yourself up on one elbow for 30 seconds per side)

This particular one was Tabata Intervals.
We did eight 20 second rounds of each exercise with 10 seconds of rest between each round. So basically you do as many reps as you can (at 100% effort) in 20 seconds. Eight times. Per exercise.
Here are the four exercises we did:
Burpees (drop to the ground, push up to a squat, jump up and clap your hands overhead. Just google it)
Double Unders (that’s a double jump on a jump rope, Rocky style)
Kettle Bell Swings (I was swinging a 53 pounder)

It actually sounds pretty easy as I’m writing this. It wasn’t.

Don’t be intimidated.
Even though it’s hardcore training, it isn’t a bunch of freaky looking bodybuilder dudes with veins popping out everywhere. In fact I haven’t seen any of those guys.
And it’s not a brodeo either.
There are a lot of women who train there, and some of the classes even have more women than men.
And some of these women make me look bad on a regular basis.
If you feel like the weakest person in the gym when you start, don’t worry,
in a few weeks time someone else will come along that makes you look good.
For me it was a super old guy.

Like I said before, CrossFit got me excited about working out again.

I love the variation. I love learning new things. I love to get my blood and sweat pumping. And I love a challenge.

I never imagined I would ever be able to do a one-handed handstand, but there I am!


If you google CrossFit and your city (like “Crossfit Atlanta”). Chances are there might be a CrossFit gym nearby. They’re popping up all over the place.

Warning: I did it and I was hooked.

And truth be told I want to see more of my Memphis friends up there with me.
So come on already!

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then this video is worth a thousand pictures.

Here’s an awesome time-lapse video of my gym Faction Strength and Conditioning.

And there’s no way I could end this post without including this bad boy

Please LIKE and Share. Add your thoughts below!

I've interviewed over 50 people who've healed all types and stages of cancer. Check them out here. Or use the search bar to find survivors of specific cancer types.

I also created a coaching program for cancer patients, caregivers and anyone who is serious about prevention called SQUARE ONE. It contains the step-by-step strategies used by myself and everyone I know who has healed cancer.

Watch SQUARE ONE Module 1 for free here


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  • Hello fellow Memphian! How ironic that I wrote a CrossFit post for my blog just last night. My experience was different than yours, but I hope to follow in your CrossFitting footsteps in the future. You rock.

    This is a very well written, informative and motivational post!!

    I’m a 2 time Survivor and I love your blog! Thanks in part to you- I’m eating cleanly and smarter.

    Keep rockin’ it, Chris!!

    • Hi Connie! What a weird coincidence. Glad to help and thanks so much for spreading the word about my blog!


  • Marisa

    Wow! First of all, congrats for getting back into regular workouts and for gaining 13lbs of muscle! I totally see the benefit of regular weight training and with mixing it up, because all I’ve been doing is walk/running the past few years and besides some weight loss, haven’t changed my body shape at all. Have been wanting to stick with a weight training program for awhile now, but I have to say that the crossfit video scares me… LOL

    • Hey thanks Marisa! CrossFit definitely keeps it interesting. And it’s really not scary at all, they start you off easy. :)

  • Hey Chris,

    Just came across your blog through our mutual friend Polly Noble. I am just loving it so far and feel the way you live fit’s really well with the way I want to live, so far your nutrition advice really stands out!

    I just wanted to let you know about another exercise system which for me is the best and you may not be aware of it as it is still pretty niche. I think crossfit is great, one of the best programmes out there but when you describe it above I feel you are missing one key word, which is missing or at least not emphasised in crossfit; and that is HEALTH! I am certain you are a man who is all about health, so I really recommend a ‘Health First Fitness’ approach to your physical practice! If this sounds cool please check out Scott Sonnon and his ‘Circular Strength Training’, it is truly amazing! And feel free to send me a message with any questions if you feel it looks cool!

    Thanks for the great Blog!!!!

  • Hey Chris, love your blog.. so informative. I had been diagnosed with clinical depression and it wasnt until I saw a ND they found out I was allergic to gluten and that was what was causing it! I had convential doctors and psychiatrists diagnose me with everything from bipolar.. and one actually had the nerve to tell me I was just a spoiled brat that needed more motivation to get out of bed to do things…can you believe that?!!
    I had and plan on going to Bastyr University in the Fall to attend they’re Naturopathic Doctor program… people like you that put themselves out there are great examples and role models for the rest of us!! I know it probably took you so much dedication and hard work to completely change your lifestyle!!! You are definitely a motivation for me :-)!

  • So glad to hear you are crossfitting! I have been going to crossfit for going on 2 years now and the change in my body and abili and strength is simply amazing- dont be afraid ladies it ROCKS.

    I have Lyme disease tho and am struggling to find a cute as my health has really tAken a turn for the worse- do u have any feedback Chris on your meat protein intakes? I am completely sugar free except for whole fruitis mostly grapefruit, and gluten free for over 2 years now, I rarely eat grain at all, and I eat all organic and only grassfed pasture raised meats. I just recently have phased dairy out of my diet lbecause I can tell my body does not dig it. Also recently nut free as well.

    I Am very torn for now over trying something like the gerson therapy without my knowledge of my own body and how well I have always felt when I include some meat in my diet as well as my concern won’t coninui to crossfit without meat- for instance I read your post on being an w tomorrow which I believe I am too- but I really need to find the solution for this lyme thing- even though it might seem that if I can crossfit I must not be that sick, it’s actually kind of ironic crossfit helps my Lyme symptoms, wherease I have actually been considering a wheelchair in my regular life because basic walking around for errands or family outing will give me great pain and stiffness in my lower half- but I do not get these symptoms at crossfit- strange I know but it is what it is.

    I guess I was just curious as to what your take on healing from something that is making your body very sick with the inclusion of small amounts of meat (for instance I use to have anemia- supplements didnt imporve it all,then after i started eating a lot more 100 percent grassfed red meat my iron Levels went way up to normal easily). So many of these alternative protocols require the total abstinence of meat protein. I have just wondered to myself if our bodies are indeed different and that some of us may need and benefit from meat protein while others do better without- if so I’m definintely in the first category.

    Sorry for the long comment- there is just so much conflicting info out there since as u know paleo is a little more meat based in nature and to me crossfitters in general seem pretty darn healthy so It makes me question if its really as bad as some people are saying.

    Thanks I’m so glad I found yorur blog and anxiously await each new video now!


  • Darn ipad!

    Sorry for typos and missing words- meant to say searching for a cute, not a cute. Also that I read ur post about being an ectomorph which I think I am too and have always integrally felt very strong inside with meat in my diet and I have a tendency to candida/crave sugar, which is why I now avoid it. I did find dr. Vickers info about why the sugar in the juices is okay on gerson very helpful indeed, but I’m still left wondering why I feel very sick and have that feeling of messed up blood sugar/weak/faint feeling when I consume a juiced glass containing apple or beet in it.

    Just so hard to reconcile all this into something cohesive.

  • Yvette

    Do you suggest doing exercise while actively fighting cancer? If so, for how long and how frequently?