CrossFit controversy: Do the benefits outweigh the risks?

Former CrossFit enthusiast Lauren McKeon and kinesiology professor Martin Gibala on the pros and cons of the extreme workout.

Despite claims that it can be dangerous, CrossFit is only growing in popularity. The extreme workout program -- a physically strenuous fusion of powerlifting, running, calisthenics and gymnastics -- is one of the fastest growing fitness trends of our time. 

For insight, Jian speaks with This Magazine editor and former CrossFit enthusiast Lauren McKeon and McMaster University kinesiology professor Martin Gibala

Cautionary tales and other caveats

Crossfitters often brag "our warm-up is your workout" says McKeon, who was once one of the program's devotees. The writer was drawn to the competitive aspects, the adrenaline rush, and the quick results -- but now says she may have gotten too caught up in the do-or-die CrossFit culture. 

It wasn't until she shattered her leg during a box jump, breaking it in seven places, that she slowed down and considered the risks.

Gibala suspects that a "confluence of factors" led to McKeon's injury and argues that there's risk inherent in any kind of physical activity. Still, he says, sitting on the couch all day entails even greater risks. Although he doesn't endorse Crossfit specifically, he does say high-intensity efforts can stimulate a range of benefits. 

The kinesiology professor walks Jian through many things individuals should consider when choosing the regimen that's right for them.

No idea what CrossFit looks like? The video below showcases several of program's key exercises. Have you ever tried a CrossFit workout? Would you?