What is CrossFit?

What is CrossFit? And why is it so expensive?

“I had to quit CrossFit because it was too expensive.”

That was not the answer I was expecting when asking my former student how her workout was going. She had started with CrossFit just before she left our school. I was a little puzzled by this answer. How can a form of exercise become too expensive?

The answer is simple.

It is not the form of exercise that is too expensive, but the gyms. And here, it is important to differentiate. The CrossFit centers do not own this form of exercise. Centers are just one regular fitness center that specializes in facilitating this form of exercise.

Why do CrossFit centers cost more than regular gyms?

The price of CrossFit centers varies from approx. $ 75 to $ 225 a month. [1]

Compared to regular gyms where the price is approx. $ 44 a month. [2]

But why is there such a big price difference between these two fitness variants?

That could probably be due to the market demand for membership at these centers. Interest in CrossFit has skyrocketed over the past ten years. In 2005, there were only 13 centers in the world. During 2018, the number was around 13,500 in 144 countries [3]

The main reason for the price difference is probably the follow-up the members receive. Most centers build on instructor-led group classes where trainers adapt the training programs to your needs.

In other words, the price looked the same as if you had spliced on a personal trainer along with 10-12 others. In light of this, the cost of membership is more understandable. And if you are among those who need extra motivation and follow-up to stick to your training plan, then this is a cheaper option than spending money on a personal trainer at a gym.

Consequently, the question of the price will be relative. If you want a follow-up with an instructor several times a week, in that case, this is a more reasonable solution. However, if you are a student with a low income and do not feel the need for å follow-up by an instructor (like my former student), then maybe this is not for you.

What does it mean to train CrossFit?

Firstly, let me point out that it is entirely possible to train CrossFit at a high level at regular gyms. You can even do it without membership in gyms. 

When you search for CrossFit, you will usually fid a definition like this:

“A form of high intensity interval training, CrossFit is a strength and conditioning workout that is made up of functional movement performed at a high intensity level.” [4]

Such high-intensity interval training (HIIT) stimulates skills that are essential in for this type of training. However, HIIT is just one of the methods used and not a description of the whole training philosophy.

On the CrossFit’s official website, on the other hand, they describes it is like this:

«CrossFit is a lifestyle characterized by safe, effective exercise and sound nutrition. [5]

In other words, the CrossFit environment does not describe this training as a concrete training method. They describe it as a lifestyle that includes several aspects of physical health.

What is the goal of CrossFit?

“The CrossFit training guide” describes their goal like this:


From the beginning, CrossFit has aimed to forge a broad, general, and inclusive fitness. We sought to build a program that would best prepare trainees for any physical contingency — prepare them not only for the unknown but for the unknowable. Looking at all sports and physical tasks collectively, we asked what physical skills and adaptations would most universally lend themselves to performance advantage. Capacity culled from the intersection of all sports demands would quite logically lend itself well to all sports. In sum, our specialty is not specializing.” [6]

In other words, the versatile training basis lies at the bottom for the type of training that is CrossFit. Compared to top athletes who fine-tune their performance to specific cutting-edge skills. Such as sprint, or long-distance swimming. The CrossFit athlete values the ability to excel in all skills and events. Ultimately, you should be able to meet any physical and mental challenge. Whatever it is. If you have seen “The CrossFit games”, then you have seen the magnitude of skill variations in their competitions. Here, the best athletes compete against each other in exercises ranging from sprint to long-distance. From the maximum lift to endurance intervals. From high technical movement to rough coordinated motor exercises.

What skills is CrossFit focusing on?

The answer is simple. EVERYTHING!

Jim Crawley and Bruce Evans of Dynamax put it this way:

Ergo, it would not be correct to describe CrossFit with the simple statement that it is a form of HIIT training. You will not be able to stimulate all the given skills with just one form of exercise. That is about training your body on a multitude of different exercise variations. The training should range from endurance and maximum strength. Functional weightlifting challenges the whole body as opposed to isolation exercises such as biceps curl etc.

HIIT training is an excellent way to stimulate more of these skills, but it is not good enough on its own.

How to train CrossFit?

If you have good knowledge of training in general, then this does not pose a problem. Just set up a training plan that takes care of all the ten physical skills mentioned above. Or buy one of my training plans that put the spotlight on the subject. They contain between 4 to 6 workouts per week and extend over 5 to 7 weeks. If you are only looking for ideas for simple programs, then CrossFit.com posts new workouts daily.

In conclusion.

The conclusion on this question is simple enough. The training is free. Coaching and membership at various gyms can be expensive. However, it is up to you how much money you want to put into this. I just pointed this out to my former student. At the same time, I gave her access to some of the training plans I had made and arranged for regular gyms. Today she still trains CrossFit and has never bee