Younger generations are known for defying their predecessors and finding their own way. Millennials are not different.
Some truths are inescapable and transcend generations. For example, no one can dispute the need to eat right, live healthy, and stay in shape. Each generation for the past few decades had a different take on how to do this. Sometimes, though, a generation can embrace the counter-cultural tendency to question authority that sparks a revolutionary way to put old principle into new practice. Millennials, by embracing hipsters as a dominant generational trend, have a penchant for disregarding conventional wisdom and embracing older styles as an ironic twist on current trends and fads. This attitude has helped contribute to CrossFit, the fitness phenomenon that is taking the nation by storm, does the same thing with exercise, which could become the Millennial's paradigm for fitness.
Developed by Greg Glassman in 2000, CrossFit has become a major force in the fitness world, even leading some to describe it as “the sport of fitness.” It is developed on the empirical principle that fitness means being competent in multiple areas, such as strength, stamina, endurance, agility, and flexibility. In other words, pumping iron on Muscle Beach and calling it a work-out may not be enough.
The same could be said about long distance running. Both focus on particular skill sets at the exclusion of all others. This creates some fundamental weakness which do not contribute to overall fitness. CrossFit aims to make its practitioners skilled in every element of fitness. While a CrossFit athlete may not compete as well in a specialized event like a marathon, a marathon runner probably would not hold up in any other type of fitness event.
CrossFit has developed a unique sub culture over the last decade. This is what millennials will likely find most appealing about it. Most practitioners see themselves as part of a contrarian insurgent movement that questions conventional fitness wisdom. It's a common theme found on most CrossFit websites and publications. Many of the exercises in Cross Fit are something a modern millennial's grandparents or great-grandparents might have done; medicine balls, Olympic weight lifting, calisthenics, and other things nostalgically associated with an “old school gym.” These are jumbled up into a program that is as fun and challenging as it is random. Minimalist footwear is also popular, just as it was when Converse All-Stars were all the rage. Paleo dietss are also extremely popular among practitioners, as well as the Zone Diet, the principles of which founder Greg Glassman extols.
Virtual community has been one of CrossFit's greatest tools for spreading. Rather than attempt to open exclusive CrossFit gyms all across the county, the program links independent gyms together into an affiliated network through the Internet. The main site posts daily work out instructions, known as the Work Out of the Day or W.O.D., which can be discussed by practitioners all around the world in a message board type format. Affiliate sites, linked to from the main site, also post their own instructions and maintain similar virtual communities. It is definitely powered the millennial macrocosm of social networking, making it very accessible to outsiders curious about physical fitness.
CrossFit is fitness program extraordinarily friendly to millennial ideals. Its reliance on a well-thought out principles, old-style exercise, variability, and healthy living are all grounded in things this generation holds dear. More importantly, it is easily accessible and anyone can join. This is the fitness program for the next generation.