CrossFit: How This Skeptic Became A Believer
Two years ago, I attended a free, introductory Crossfit class because one of my husband’s coworkers had suggested he give it a try.
Crossfit looked intimidating and was way more expensive than jogging (my preferred workout at the time), but my husband was eager to try it, and I'd been assured I wouldn't be the only woman. So we went.
The coach who taught our introductory class explained that Crossfit was about varied, high-intensity, functional movement. To illustrate, he did mock bicep curls, then asked how often we found ourselves doing an isolated curling motion in real life.
"We never do that!" he said.
Then he did a squat, one of the foundational movements in Crossfit. He pointed out that anytime you sit down or stand up, you're basically doing a squat. By replicating movements we actually do in life, he explained, Crossfit would make us stronger and improve our ability to do everyday tasks.
He then taught us three basic moves: a kettlebell swing, a box jump, and a wallball. Once we all had an understanding of how to do each, we were given the day’s workout on the whiteboard. It was a rep scheme of 3 rounds of 1 minute of wallballs, 1 minute of kettlebell swings, and 1 minute of box jumps, for a total of 9 minutes.
I'd previously endured three-hour swim practices, so a 9-minute workout seemed too easy. I questioned the coach’s warning that it would wear us out.
Less than halfway through the 9 minutes, I realized that this Crossfit thing was no joke. My plan to go for a jog later in the day seemed ridiculous. When I finished the workout, I was winded, and my legs felt like jelly.
My husband and I both left the gym incredulous. What had just happened to us in there?
A lot of people are instantly hooked when they try Crossfit. I was politely suspicious. Sure, my butt had just been kicked, but would this really get me in better shape?
A few weeks later, my husband and I decided to take a foundations class at our local gym, which is exclusively focused on Crossfit. This taught the fundamentals of Crossfit in a small group environment. We learned about Olympic weightlifting and how to do other movements, like burpees and rope climbs.
Once we completed the foundations course, we were ready to commit to Crossfit, and we joined the gym.
The gym I attend has pre-set class times, much like a yoga studio. Coaches guide you through warming up, working on mobility, weightlifting, and a metabolic conditioning component in the course of an hour. Athletes at different ability levels can scale the workout according to their capabilities.
Even though I'd been taught most of the Crossfit movements in my foundations class, the first class I attended with the full gym was daunting. There were a lot more people, and they were all a lot better at Crossfit than I was. As a newbie, I felt that I stuck out like a sore thumb.
While I often felt awkward in my first few months doing Crossfit, I kept at it because I enjoyed the new skills I was learning. I had never seriously lifted weights before, and the challenge of mastering the Olympic lifts had me hooked. I loved getting stronger, and I was able to lift heavier weights in just a few months. I was also pleasantly surprised to find myself looking better than I had in a while. I dropped two clothing sizes and had muscle definition in my arms for the first time in my life.
I also came to enjoy the community. In Crossfit, there is time to chat with your neighbor while setting up your equipment, and most gyms encourage partnering with others in warm ups and weightlifting. Both of these things make it easy to get to know other Crossfitters.
This community focus is worlds different than my experience avoiding eye contact while running on a treadmill in a gym or doing yoga in silence. In fact, knowing that I’ll get to see my friends motivates me to get to the gym when otherwise, I'd be likely to skip a workout. Plus, they inspire me to push myself harder.
When I first started Crossfit, I didn’t know what to expect. Now, about two years later, I’ve lost some love handles, gained muscle, and improved my overall sense of well-being. Even though I work hard at the gym, it has never been easier to stay in shape. The community, the variety, and the intensity all keep me coming back for more.
What has been your experience with Crossfit? Are you interested in giving it a try? What questions do you have? Leave a comment below!