CrossFit’s Broad Definition Allows for Broad Application

Maybe we shouldn’t be asking what IS CrossFit but what ISN’T CrossFit?


Much of the work we do at my gym for new members is creating context. Nearly everyone who walks in our doors has a perception and, as a result, an opinion of CrossFit. Almost none of these people, however, can define it.

This juxtaposition is an incredible opportunity, in my opinion. In that way, we take pride in walking our prospective students, hand in hand, through the definition of CrossFit. It’s admittedly simple, bordering underwhelming to learn that all the imagery and perception in our heads is just constantly varied functional movements executed at high intensity.

With this simple definition, most of our prospective students sit back in their chairs surprised. In addition to being quite simple, the definition is quite broad. A great deal of exercise activities fit inside CrossFit’s definition. In fact, it’s almost as if the toughest question isn’t, “What is CrossFit?” as much as it is, “What isn’t CrossFit?”

As the practice of CrossFit evolves, I’m curious to see what different variations of a CrossFit training session come about. Combining combatives, carries, team drills and unique nonstructural practices like stand-up paddleboard have been sighted in the CrossFit space. Could this be insight to a much more liberal interpretation of what practicing CrossFit should and could look like?

Considering the definition of CrossFit, are the movements that you feel are largely left out? How much do you (or your gym) deviate from the stereotypical CrossFit experience?