Bootcamp vs CrossFit – What is the Difference? Answered!

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Bootcamp vs CrossFit – What is the Difference?

Boot camp, TRX, Circuit training, HIIT, or CrossFit?

What’s the difference?

The quest to find out the difference of bootcamp vs CrossFit is similar to figuring out the difference between hot pink and fuchsia. They are similar, but there are differences!

In case you are wondering: Fuchsia tends to have a more purple hue, but you already knew that.

I promise:

By the time this article is at its end, you will know the differences (and similarities) between these two popular workouts.

This article will briefly define Bootcamp and CrossFit. Then we will highlight the differences and similarities.

OK, Let’s get started.

What is Bootcamp?


While military bootcamp has been around for well over 25 years, Fitness Bootcamp has been around for roughly as long as CrossFit, but the origins are less defined.

In a Fitness bootcamp you work in a class, all performing the workouts at the same time. The class can be limited in duration, e.g. 1 month, 4 months etc.

Fitness bootcamp contain cardio and strength training, with the aim of all over body fitness. The workouts are usually different every day, and this keeps things interesting.

The group nature of the class keeps you accountable, offers you an opportunity to both give and receive encouragement and it builds community.

What is CrossFit?

crossfit workout tyre push

CrossFit was conceived of in 1996, and officially founded by coach Greg Glassman and Lauren Jenai in 2000. The very first CrossFit gym or box was in Santa Cruz, California and later an affiliated box opened in Seattle, WA.

CrossFit describes itself as:

“constantly varied functional movements executed at high intensity across broad time and modal domains.”

CrossFit is known for the WoD, or prescribed workout of the day.

The goal of CrossFit is NOT to be specialized but to attain physical competency in all areas, including power, speed, cardiovascular fitness, flexibility, stamina, and strength.

CrossFit has as many female participants as male and is popular internationally.

CrossFit offers trainers specialty courses in Olympic lifting, Strongman, gymnastics, kids fitness, pregnancy fitness among others.

CrossFit sponsors it’s own CrossFit games, the Olympics of CrossFit, every summer.

CrossFit is extremely member oriented, (and some may say cultish, although we disagree). It is very easy to build friendships and find a sense of community at the box.

Bootcamp vs CrossFit: Two of These Things are Kind of the Same

Man and woman workout with jumping rope in crossfit gym

  • Both are great for building community, offering and receiving encouragement and making friends.
  • Both focus on overall physical fitness and aim to hit all important metrics such as power, speed, cardiovascular fitness, flexibility, stamina, and strength
  • Both came on the fitness scene around the same time
  • Both use kettlebells, plyometric boxes, battle ropes, huge tires, dumbbells, medicine balls and jump ropes.
  • Both use exercises such as mountain climbers, burpees, squats, planks, box jumps, push-ups, sit-ups, running and more.
  • Both have the ability to offer an endless number of varied workouts, so you don’t need to worry about a boring routine.
  • Both are scalable, meaning folks with different fitness levels can modify movements or exercises to suit their current level. E.g., someone just starting may do pushups on their knees. A person who is more fit would do them on their toes.
  • Both fall under the “Functional Fitness” Umbrella.
  • Both are pretty intense and hardcore and can turn you into a beast if that is your goal.

Unique To CrossFit

Battle ropes exercise in the garage gym

CrossFit can be done on YOUR schedule, you show up to the box on YOUR time, read the WoD and get er’ done. The timing is way more flexible.

CrossFit uses barbells. It can because there is not an entire class doing the same exercise at the same time. Everyone at the box more or less rotates through the WoD.

The WoD does not have to be done in order.

The WoD is the same for all boxes on any given day. Everyone from Atlanta to LA has a chalkboard or whiteboard with the WoD written on it, which incidentally can also be found here.

CrossFit is done in a bare bones type gym called a box, which could have been a traditional gym in a past life. They can also be old garages or warehouse space, converted into a box.

CrossFit can be done at home. The creator of CrossFit himself has a lengthy newsletter detailing what is needed to set up a CrossFit Gym. It also has a humorous list of “10 things you can do to get kicked out of your gym”. Wasn’t it nice of him to create that?

Thanks, Mr. Glassman!

CrossFit has its very own CrossFit games, a yearly event where top athletes compete, performing exercises they learned just hours before.

Unique to Bootcamp

All participants in the class do the same exercise at the same time

Fitness Bootcamps can have a limited duration, e.g. 4 weeks. Hence the “Camp” part of the name.

Fitness Bootcamp is a specific workout class at a specified time. E.g. class is one hour, every weekday from 8 to 9pm.

Bootcamp is sometimes done in parks or other non-conventional places. Because of this, workouts can include stairs, or obstacle courses.

So There You Have It

CrossFit Concept
Photo Credit:Andrew Hoffman

Honestly, fitness wise, the workouts are very similar, the biggest differences are class structure and setting.

We would be hard presses to say one is better than the other. For me personally, I like the flexibility of going to the box just whenever.

They are both great for making friends and building camaraderie’s, but I like that CrossFit goes on indefinitely, and I would worry that I would fall out of my fitness routine after bootcamp was over.

It comforts me to know my box will always be there. (insert sappy emotional tears here).

I still think bootcamp is great, and I do like that it can be done outdoors. It just appeals to the voyeuristic side of me, I suppose. Plus sunshine. Who doesn’t love sunshine?

OK, I promised, and frankly, I think I delivered.

By now you should understand the differences and similarities of boot camp vs. CrossFit.

We would LOVE to hear from you.

Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.

What do you think the differences are between boot camp vs. CrossFit? Do you prefer one or the other? And why?

Let us know!