I finally tried CrossFit.
I took my first class this past November and have been going ever since — several days a week. If you decide to try it, be prepared for your friends and family to begin doing research on CrossFit and tell you how bad it is for you. After all, someone always knows somebody who has been hurt while doing CrossFit, right?
I can honestly say that I am guilty of thinking that way. I was skeptical that CrossFit was just a popular fad of a name brand workout; something I couldn’t do; I would get hurt. I was concerned it would be a buff fitness clique that I did not have backstage passes for.
However, I am always up for new adventures, so despite my resistance, I took the plunge and went to a box (I still feel silly calling it that — it’s a gym). My thoughts about CrossFit prior to actually going were not right. Yes, I drank the Kool-Aid. I was surprised at how much instruction and the emphasis I received about doing things correctly, safely, and with proper form. I’ve had gym memberships in the past, and no one ever talked to me. Instructions came from the little step-by-step pictures on the machines. Often I had no idea if I was actually using the machines right because the how-to guide was practically hieroglyphics.
With CrossFit “there are no machines, we are the machines” and we have to learn how to use them. The are no doodle guides and there are no mirrors, just the coaches. I was in a Crossfit gym getting instructions, tips and help from a place I expected to be ignored. I’m sure just like any place, there are good facilities with good staff and there are ones that are not so good. I was fortunate to go to a good place like Okie CrossFit that is ideal for a beginner like me (by the way, every CrossFitter thinks their gym is the best). Yes, you can hurt yourself doing CrossFit, but I know a ton of runners that have hurt themselves running. I’ve heard of people hurting themselves just picking up something on the floor. There is risk with everything we do.
So many of the CrossFit stereotypes make it sound like CrossFit is a big cult, and you will somehow forget any other activity in life. First rule about CrossFit is to tell everyone you do CrossFit and only talk about CrossFit, right? However, if you’re like me and love other activities like running or yoga, you can do both; or in my case all 20 things.
My other activities have actually benefitted from my added strength (thanks to CrossFit). The “cult” part of it is very much like the running community: there’s no brainwashing but you can easily become hooked because of all the positive things you experience. You usually see the same people each day. You can watch each other progress and reach new records; we cheer for one another. The strangers at the gym or on the trail become your friends; you obviously have something in common through fitness. I make sure to say hello to newbies that arrive in class. I know how it can be intimidating, but everyone has been a newbie at some point.
So far, I have enjoyed learning new moves and continuation of perfecting my form. Of course, I have had to learn the Crossfit language of WOD, jerks, cleans, AMRAP, and EMOM for example. It finally makes sense to me. Not everything is foreign, however, there is some basic stuff like squats, burpees, and rowing. I have enjoyed the challenge of growth and being able to lift heavier over time. I have liked seeing things gets easier which leads me to raising the bar and making them more challenging. I like walking out of the “box” with wobbly legs and sweat dripping down my back. I know it’s not for everyone, but in my opinion, it’s worth checking out. Most CrossFit gyms will let you try a day or a week free so that you can get a feel for the facility, the coaches, and the workouts. After all, it’s critical for your personality to mesh with those at the gym. It can be pricey investment, so you want to be sure it’s something you enjoy and will consistently do.
If you think about trying Crossfit, here’s some advice:
1. You will be so sore after your first week and may be tempted not to return. It will pass. You will learn to work through the soreness and often soreness afterward defines how great a workout you had. The best thing after the soreness passes is muscles and strength. Yes!!
2. Bring a friend. It can be intimidating to branch out like that, so backup is beneficial.
3. Ask questions! Don’t feel like you’re bugging them or you’re dumb. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
4. Embrace the modifications. Don’t push yourself to the point of injury. Check your ego at the door. The things you can’t do today will become easier tomorrow; it takes time.
5. Accept criticism. No one is perfect, so be prepared for some feedback. Don’t compare yourself to others. While CrossFit takes place in a group setting, focus on yourself!
6. Finally, enjoy the process. Have fun. Now, let’s drink some pre-workout fuel and go pick up something heavy.
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