Up until last year, I'd been practicing yoga three times a week since I was 12. I was the last person you'd have pegged as a prospective CrossFit lover: I don't get my kicks from being able to lift heavy things or run fast. I'm not interested in the community aspect of exercise. I'm a firm believer that how you look is primarily based on what you eat, not how you move.
Needless to say, I had a ton of preconceptions about why CrossFit wouldn't suit me. But one session was all it took to make me throw those thoughts out the window. Here are some of the things I learned that might open your mind to it too:
1. It's a kick-ass way to cleanse your vibe.
After my first class (and every other subsequent class), I felt elevated. There's something about the fact that it's exhausting that helps shake off negativity from like nothing else. Above anything else, CrossFit is for me a daily mental, emotional and spiritual cleanse. I leave feeling shiny and new.
2. You might not be the kind of person who can "switch off" in the conventional ways.
Getting through a sweaty, fast CrossFit workout of the day ironically helped quiet my mind in a way that silent, meditative classes never did. We're all different, so it's definitely worth experimenting to see what brings you peace.
3. Better self-acceptance is more important than a better body.
OK, so I know I said that getting a sense of community from my workout wasn't important, but the culture at any CrossFit gym is so encouraging of your best self that it's hard not to embrace it. There's no underlying awareness of who looks better in their leggings and people just genuinely don't seem to care about that as a form of validation.
This helped me take that pressure off myself, too. Now, I place more emphasis on how I feel rather than how I look and surprisingly, my best body ever just now feels like an effortless side effect rather than the main goal I was so desperately trying to achieve before.
4. My muscles became less tight.
I love the idea that CrossFit focuses on functional movement, i.e. things our bodies are designed to do. Doing more of the movements we all instinctively do as kids — jumping, pushing, squatting, pulling — feels really good. In the same way you have to actually drive a car to keep it in good condition, these moves work as maintenance for keeping our bodies well oiled.
5. Those fears of bulking are crazy.
I'll admit when I first started, I was terrified of "bulking up." I thought I was a girl who got thick easily, so my coach told me the second I felt bulky, all I'd have to do is stop CrossFit training and I'd go straight back to looking how I used to. But to my surprise, I just kept getting smaller and smaller. A year on, I'm still going four-to-five times per week and that "bulk" has yet to show up.
What I've since learned: it takes a LOT of conscious effort to look like those bulky professional men and women in the magazines. They're spending hours and hours in the gym. They're lifting a lot more weight and doing way more reps than you or I ever will, with minimal cardio. They're taking supplements to help them get that look. CrossFit for nonprofessionals is programmed to always be a mix of weights and metabolic conditioning, so you get lean and toned.
6. You'll avoid injury (in any kind of workout) if proper form comes first.
Fans of other workouts will claim CrossFit promotes injuries. But the reality is that you have the same likelihood of getting injured in warrior two as you would doing a weighted squat. The only way to ensure safety during any kind of workout is to find a good coach: look for someone who prioritizes proper form and can adapt a workout to your ability. Every CrossFit workout is universally scalable, so fear of injuring yourself shouldn't be something that stops you from trying it.