I hate the gym. Or at least I thought I did. There have been periods in my life where I tolerated going to the gym and enjoyed lifting weights, but mostly it’s torture for me. I love to walk and hike, so that has been my exercise. As much as I hate the gym, I love being strong and fit. Until now, I’ve not been able to achieve my goals for strength and appearance because I hate the gym! I just never know what to do when I get there. I know some exercises but I find them boring after a few sessions. I never got the hang of “the machines” and I loathe the treadmill. I see people thriving and enjoying the gym, but it’s obviously just not for me. And I have weak tendons in my elbows and they are prone to injury. Even the basic movements like a bicep curl could mean weeks of pain and recovery.
Unless you actually do CrossFit, this probably sounds crazy! People say it’s extreme and even dangerous and you have to be fit to do it. But I want to tell you that none of that is true!
My decision to join was partly based on the experience of my mom and brother who have been doing it for 7 months and 3 years, respectively. They love it. I was astounded that they looked forward to going to class. My brother is ridiculous strong and my mom shed more than a few pounds; goals that I was hoping to achieve. Also, I love a challenge and variety in my workouts; CrossFit could provide both.
I’ve completed five classes and I am hooked! Physically, it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done since Army boot camp.
Is CrossFit for everyone? No.
Could anyone do CrossFit? YES!
Here are a few points I’d like to make to anyone thinking about it or to anyone that thinks I am crazy….
- Your coach will push you but you have to be willing to push yourself. I joined with the attitude that the workouts would be hard but I was going to give it my all even if it killed me. It hasn’t killed me. Sometimes I feel like stopping or puking, but I don’t and I haven’t (yet), and after the workout I feel so good that I finished and I did my best. The great thing about CrossFit is that you are only competing with yourself. And no one is judging your abilities, only cheering you on to give it your all!
- You won’t get hurt if you listen to your coaches and focus on technique. Like I said earlier, I have 4 tendons that are prone to strains. I’ve strained all four at various times. I tweaked two of them during my second CrossFit workout. But it was my fault. I bought compression sleeves to wear during workouts and forgot to put them on for that class. I won’t make that mistake again. The coaches are so great at explaining everything and perfecting your form before every workout. If you listen to them, you won’t get injured. And they will never ask you to do more than you are capable of doing. But they will push you to do more than you think you are capable of doing!
- If you are not physically able to do an exercise, there is a modified exercise you can do instead. My weakness….pull ups. My coach explained the movement, told me to jump up and grab the bar, and I couldn’t. I couldn’t even reach the bar! So I was given a box to stand on. Then I just hung there. He told me to pull myself up and I still just hung there. I was trying to do the movement; I just physically could not. So I was given a giant rubber band to assist my body in an upward movement towards the bar. And I did a few pull-ups!!! During another workout we had to do a lot of pull ups. Even with the band, I physically couldn’t do more than 14 pull ups. So I was told to do ring rows. It’s what CrossFit refers to as “scaling”. Every exercise can be scaled to meet your individual abilities. So I finished my workout doing ring rows and that was okay. Next time maybe I’ll do 21 pull ups. And someday I am hoping to do a pull up without the help of a giant rubber band! The point is that I am getting stronger each time I try, even if I have to scale my workout.
- You will learn a new language. CrossFit has a language and abbreviations that aren’t used anywhere else and at first it seems confusing but slowly you learn it.
- You will have a built-in support system. If you are struggling, everyone will cheer you on. Lots of fist bumps and high-fives and “great jobs”. You are only competing with yourself and everyone wants to see you succeed. And there is no judgment when you can’t do something. Everyone had to start somewhere.
- You will feel like a badass! When you accomplish a workout and you know you gave it everything you have…..you will feel like you can do anything! I did 14 pull ups, 21 ring rows, 45 dead lifts, and 60 jumping squats in 9 minutes last night. That won’t seem like much to some people, and to some it will sound impossible, but none of that matters. What matters most is that I gave 110% to that workout and I finished it. And today I feel great about it!!
- Nutrition is so important. Can you eat like crap and do CrossFit? Of course you can. But you won’t be able to do your best. I want to eat better because I want to do my best during my workouts. And if I am eating junk and not providing my body with the necessary fuel, then my workouts will suffer. I know the workouts are going to be hard, so I don’t want to eat anything that will make them more difficult. Eating right used to be a chore, something I just had to get through. Now I don’t even think about junk food because I am thinking about my next workout. That might not be true for everyone but it will at least make you think about what you are putting in your mouth!
- Finally, you will be addicted. It seems hard to understand, but I can’t wait to get to my next workout. Everyday it’s something new; a new challenge, a new skill, a new way to push your body to the limit. And it is GREAT!
I am so excited for this new challenge!
Obviously, these are just my thoughts and feelings. But if you are interested in CrossFit, I encourage you to contact your local box (that’s what they call a CrossFit gym!) and the coach would be more than happy to answer any questions. If he or she isn’t willing to talk with you about it, call another box! And if you are in the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh, PA, I would be happy to put you in contact with my coach!