Crossfit workout craze

May 29, 2008 8:40:47 PM PDT
There's no doubt it's a tough workout. There have been cases of life-threatening injuries at centers that offer the program. But those injuries are rare and the benefits of the novel class are promising. Healthcheck reporter Ali Gorman tried it to see if the pain is worth the gain.

Squats, overhead presses, push-ups and pull-ups and that's just the warm-up!

It's called CrossFit and the skull and crossbones log says it all.

"It's a very intense workout in a short amount of time," said Kathleen Annitto of Avon, New Jersey.

The new fitness craze started in California. Now it's at the Jersey Shore.

"From the first day, that's it we were hooked," said Siobhan Ryan of Lake Como, New Jersey.

Trainers Mike Stehle and Jim Milkowski invited Ali to find out what the buzz is all about. Its 45 minutes of almost non-stop exercise including both cardio and strength training.

A lot of the moves use heavy medicines balls, ropes and kettle bells ranging from 16 to 88 pounds. And don't forget about the 300-pound tire!

"I don't think we've ever done the same workout twice," said Joanne O'Shea of Lake Como, New Jersey.

So what are the results?

"Completely changed my body," said MaryBeth Stehle of Avon, New Jersey.

"I lost like 20 pounds since January 4th," said Kathleen.

But despite the fit bodies, some say CrossFit is too intense. In fact the founder documents at least 5 cases where people who started the program suffered a potentially life-threatening injury called rhabdomyolysis or rhabdo.

Rhabdo is a condition where muscles break down rapidly, creating toxic byproducts, which then pass through the kidneys and can cause kidney failure and eventually death.

Dr. Michael Ciccoti is a sports medicine doctor at Rothman Institute at Jefferson. He's also team doctor for the Phillies. We showed him what goes on during CrossFit.

"The idea behind it is really great," he said.

He calls it the most intense new workout he's seen in the past decade.

As for the rhabdomyeloysis Dr. Ciccoti said that's rare and was probably a result of exercisers going out too hard too fast.

"You control the intensity of your workout, we have to sometimes reel people in," said Stehle.

Stehle said there have been no major injuries at CrossFit New Jersey. Part of that comes from careful supervision. Everyone has to learn the moves and how to do them properly.

The program involves quick moves with little rest. As you get tired it becomes harder to keep good form which Dr. Ciccoti said is vital because the more likely risks of CrossFit are muscle and joint problems.

"They can range from very mild muscle soreness to true muscle tears, ligament tears, ruptures, joint separation or dislocation," said Dr. Ciccoti.

So with that, he cautions, if you dare to try CrossFit do so with certified trainers who will help you progress slowly so you can finish the workout and even come back for another beating.

You want to make sure you are medically healthy before starting any new fitness routine.

The cost of CrossFit in Avon-by-the-Sea, New Jersey is $130 per month you can go several times a week.

There's also a CrossFit center in Philadelphia.