Have you heard about Crossfit? Since starting out in a small gym in Santa Cruz, California in the early 2000’s by a former gymnast with a passion for exercise science and an unconventional approach to training, Crossfit has become the fastest growing fitness movement on the planet with over 14,000 affiliates throughout the world (I recently visited one in Turks & Caicos!)

Typically referred to as “the sport of fitness,” Crossfit is defined as constantly varied functional movement performed at high intensity. Incorporating Olympic weightlifting, gymnastics, calisthenics, plyometrics, and other exercises, Crossfit’s broad-based training approach equips people for anything, from hauling sandbags to climbing mountains to running a 5k.

It has been embraced by the military as well as police and fire departments, and, increasingly, high school, college and professional sports programs.

After decades of mostly running and biking, I discovered Crossfit four years ago and quickly fell in love with this completely different and refreshing approach to working out. As for Crossfit’s benefits: I’m 57 years old, and in virtually any test of physical fitness, I would crush my 27-year-old self!

Is Crossfit a “cult” whose appeal is only for fringe fitness fanatics, as some contend? Absolutely not. As the sport gains more popularity, people of all ages, sizes, and health conditions are transforming themselves. I firmly believe everyone can benefit from it — here are five reasons why:

1: You will get fitter faster doing Crossfit than any other form of exercise.

With Crossfit’s emphasis on functional movements (functional means they mimic the physical demands of real-life movement verses traditional fitness — think carrying a 50 lb bag of dog food verses doing bicep curls), people develop what fitness experts call “general physical preparedness,” enabling them to tackle virtually any physical challenge instead of limiting fitness to a narrow range of development. In other words, Crossfit encourages the generalist, not the specialist.

2: Crossfit is constantly varied — no more monotonous workout routines.

The constantly changing aspect of Crossfit means freedom from the boredom-inducing effects of traditional weight training, running, or other forms of exercise. The focus is on developing your body for a wide variety of physical activity instead of specializing in one. The benefits to both the mind and body can have a transformational impact on your relationship with exercise. I do Crossfit 5-6 times a week, and every workout is completely different.

3: Crossfit builds community.

Walk into a traditional gym and you’ll see mostly headphone-wearing members in their own worlds doing their own thing. At Crossfit, everyone does the same workout (under the supervision of trained coaches) which creates an atmosphere of mutual encouragement and connection. There’s a bond that develops when people tackle a physical challenge together. Ask any avid Crossfitter and most will tell you the social engagement is the biggest and best part of the experience.

4: Crossfit will keep you healthy for a lifetime… a longer lifetime.

According to the World Health Organization, chronic disease is responsible for 88 percent of deaths in the United States in the form of heart disease, cancer, diabetes Alzheimer’s — and many more. When combined with sound nutrition (a key component of Crossfit’s methodology), growing volumes of research is showing that high intensity functional training far surpasses other fitness methods in preventing, even reversing chronic disease. As Crossfit expands to include a broader range of the the population, more and more reports of massive weight loss, relief from diabetes, getting off medications, and many other dramatic health transformations are drawing those who are “sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

5: Crossfit will change your life.

Although I have no experience with chronic disease, since staring Crossfit four years ago, I’ve never felt healthier, more energetic and productive while simultaneously experiencing more soreness and physical challenge. In other words, I’ve never felt more ALIVE.

Humans were created for movement, growth, and consistently pushing and redefining our often self-imposed limitations. There’s no question that you will be challenged by the high intensity experience of Crossfit training, but the benefits are well worth the cost. In these four years, I have never been sick – not once. (I can recall having one cold since 2014!) I am on zero medications, and so many of the issues that men my age deal with, from lower back pain to high cholesterol and blood sugar issues to limited range of motion, are completely absent from my life.

Whether you’re looking to get into the best athletic shape of your life or you simply want to live as healthy a life as possible and stay out of the nursing home, Crossfit is a fantastic option.

It could change your life.

If you could try Crossfit for one week free, would you consider it? Why or why not? I’d love to hear your feedback.