Crossfit Gains Followers and Some Critics

Crossfit is the exercise phenomenon that has grown from just two Florida locations a few years ago to 200 today

Migdalia Booker is crazy about Crossfit. The exercise program helped her go from a size 14 to a size 2.

"I love it because it’s changed my life," Booker said.

But Brian Bustillo had a different experience.

"I think it very dangerous and can put a lot of people at risk," Bustillo said.

Crossfit is the exercise phenomenon that has grown from just  two Florida locations a few years ago to 200 today. There are more than 3,000 locations across the country. They offer Olympic-style weightlifting, running with 20 pound balls, pulling sleds and other exercises.

"I basically hurt my lower back," Bustillo said.

Bustillo says he got injured doing dead lifts at a Crossfit gym. NBC Miami obtained a training document from a Crossfit instructor. It’s part of a two-day class that two Crossfit instructors said they attended. Nevertheless, both say they felt unqualified to teach the weight training maneuvers even after they were received certificates.

"It’s like a weekend course. You go in. You get certified in a couple of days or couple of hours and you’re out and you’re a professional. I don’t think you can learn what you need to know about the human body in such a short span of time," Bustillo said.

Florida doesn't have a program to license personal trainers. NBC Miami spoke with eight Crossfit members who told us they were pushed by instructors and exceeded their limits.

"I loved it initially, and i just couldn’t do it anymore. I became injured, and it prevented me from being able to do the workouts at all," said Kim Staples.

"Crossfit puts an enormous emphasis on proper mechanics. More than half of the level 1 trainer course is dedicated to learning the positions that keep people safe, including the Olympic lifts. We do not propose that any two-day course, makes expert coaches. We do emphasize how to
keep clients safe while gaining expertise as a trainer," said Crossfit spokesman Tony Budding.

Miriam Guanche, of Miami Physical Therapy Associates 1, said there is much potential to get hurt.

"I’ve seen neck injuries, back injuries. I’ve seen shoulder sprains and strains and ankles and knees," she said.

At the South Florida Boxing Gym in Miami Beach, the owner Jolie Glassman had the Crossfit program for a while, but she ended up replacing it with something she thought would reduce the risk of injury.

"Now I changed it to something called Rite class. It's stands for routine is the enemy. It’s still fighting fitness. It’s still out of the box training," she said.

The team with the most swings at the end of the 13 minutes is a winner.

Carlo Chialastri says he got wrapped up in Crossfit’s competitive environment.

"Make sure the people who are doing it are actually qualified because a lot of time when people they come up they just want to make a quick buck and hold themselves to be an expert when they really arent," he said.

Budding says Crossfit is concerned about locations just trying to capitalize on the popularity of the brand.

At the Crossfit facility in west Pembroke Pines their motto is "do it right."  They have different levels depending on ability.

Jorge Vega and other highly trained police officers were there in their off duty time running an intense fitness drill.

"It’s becoming the new fad. You might want to say. There might be people that are not into, I guess, building an athlete, or doing it for the right reasons."

Keith Hechtman is the doctor many professional and college athletes see when they are hurt.

"I think the instructors have to take care of that enthusiasm and so hold on for a minute. Don’t try to do too much at this time and have everyone cheering 'yea yea yea. Lets get this done,'” Hechtman said.

Booker said Crossfit helped her shed pounds, becoming a size 2 from a size 14. Hechtman advises to ask a lot of questions about the trainers.

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