Is CrossFit Like Bootcamp?

CrossFit uses exercises from many different disciplines to create the most efficient workouts in the world. These include:

  • Calisthenics
  • Gymnastics
  • Weightlifting
  • Powerlifting
  • Running and Sprinting
  • Rowing
  • Kettlebell work
  • Strongman implements
  • CrossFit-specific exercises
  • Various conditioning tools, like skipping and medicine balls.

By comparison, most exercises in a typical ‘bootcamp’ would fall either in the first category, or the latter. Equipment, education, and expertise are necessary for the rest.
CrossFit classes are taught by coaches who are schooled in each of the above. At Catalyst, every Coach has a minimum Bachelor’s Degree, as well as extra training in different disciplines.
Bootcamps offer great workouts. You’ll feel “muscles you didn’t know you had.” You’ll jog, do lunges, squats, and pushups…all with your heart rate up. You’ll sweat a lot, and stay primarily in the aerobic zone (elevated heart rate.)
CrossFit plans its workouts far in advance…but doesn’t let you know what’s coming next. This novelty – the unknown – is what keeps people up late at night, watching videos and anticipating the daily workout posting. You’ll build strength. You’ll get faster. You’ll burn fat faster, and feel better. You’ll work on all systems: aerobic, anaerobic, phosphagen, skeletal, nervous….
Bootcamps have an air of challenge, and that’s fun. It feels like a game. CrossFit combines the same elements, but adds a clock, tracks your workouts to see if you’re making progress, and encourages you to compete against yourself. Sometimes, we host competitions. Many people like them. Some folks, like Reebok, pay us millions of dollars to be seen there. ESPN thinks we’re cool enough to televise. Big chain gyms try to knock us off with ‘XFit Extreme’ and “Cross-Fitness” classes.
Sometimes, CrossFit feels like bootcamp. Sometimes, it feels like a classroom. Sometimes, it feels like a podium – and you’ve won the gold medal. Bootcamp-style exercises make up a small part of CrossFit, but long-term progression, expert coaching, and variety of CrossFit make it a much larger (and longer) program.

  CrossFit Boot Camp
Workout Difficulty 1-10 (scalable) 3-6 (scalable)
Type of energy system used Aerobic Aerobic (some anaerobic)
Long-term progression Yes No
Types of exercises Calisthenic,
Running and Sprinting
Kettlebell work
Strongman implements
CrossFit-specific exercises
Various conditioning tools
Calisthenic, running and sprinting, various conditioning tools
Gym type Independently-owned and insured. All manner of equipment. Outdoors, school gyms
Coach Qualification Minimum CrossFit Level 1; most Coaches carry several other advanced courses; Catalyst Coaches have a minimum Bachelor’s Degree No minimum qualification
Price $4-12 per class $5-10 per class
Novelty Daily Limited variety
Tracking Daily None
Implements Bars, rings, sleds, tires, kettlebells, dumbbells, racks, stones, logs, pullup rigs, platforms, open space, mats Open space, small kettlebells or dumbbells
Kids program Yes No
Educational network 4500 CrossFit Affiliates worldwide; weekly seminars from world-renowned experts in various disciplines None
Community Hundreds of people who care about you; who call if you don’t show up; who pat you on the back and high-five you after the workout; who cheer you on if they finish first. An army of friends. Loose friendships made.
Events Every few months. Fundraisers, competitions, fun outings, midnight runs, life-changing challenges None
Introductory Program OnRamp or Personal Training Show-and-go

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