How CrossFit Can Both Help And Hurt You

Since its emergence, CrossFit has received both praise and criticism. While many swear by its life-changing fitness benefits, others insist we should avoid the practice altogether.

Are the risks of extreme activity like CrossFit truly worth the benefits? Fitness expert Erin Simmons, RhinoCo Fitness creative director David Tao and orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Kenneth Alleyne joined HuffPost Live host Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani today to discuss the pros and cons of CrossFit, and what keeps people coming back to the “box” for more.

“I can’t say I’m a fan of CrossFit,” said Simmons. “A lot of the time you’ve got this WOD -- this 'workout of the day' in CrossFit speak -- and coaches may or may not be there watching it. ... The coaches may only have a weekend of training and they’re teaching you how to do really complex lifts."

Simmons said it often takes years to develop the correct form for these kinds of lifts, which are "taught to these CrossFit coaches in a weekend or the actual CrossFit goers in a week."

While Tao agrees with Simmons on her safety concerns, the seasoned CrossFitter -- who underwent wrist reconstruction as the result of the exercise -- said the experience varies from location to location.

“CrossFit oftentimes is seen as this one-exercise methodology, but there’s not just one CrossFit WOD," he said. "CrossFit gyms are independently owned and operated, and the experience that people get at these facilities will vary greatly depending on the experience level of the coaches and the gym operators. ...The times I was injured during CrossFit, I was not working out with a coach and that was my mistake. I was working out by myself, pushed myself to limits my body wasn’t ready for, and I've since learned my lesson."

Dr. Kenneth Alleyne, of the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, noted that even after serious injuries, it seems as though CrossFitters can’t help but keep coming back for more.

"It’s more than just the exercise for people," he said. "It’s a part of their self-esteem, it’s part of their stress release, it’s part of their image and how they see themselves in the world. In some gyms, it’s a community. And that, like anything else that becomes a habit, is very difficult to break. So the negative consequences of injury for a lot of these people are just a bump in the road."

To hear more of the conversation about whether extreme sports like CrossFit are truly worth the wellness risks, watch the full HuffPost Live clip in the video above.