There’s been more in the media lately about a string of gyms called CrossFit. For those who watch “Biggest Loser,” Bob Harper is the latest celebrity to jump on the CrossFit bandwagon. He even did some of the famous workouts with his team.
Reebok came out with a line of shoes for CrossFitters, too, and their commercials show groups doing some of the popular exercises done there.
Those who have heard of CrossFit or know members and are not members of a local gym themselves may be thinking “those people are maniacs!” One of the taglines for the chain is “forging elite fitness.” People who go there are serious about getting fit, and when I observed a class, I saw full on push ups being done, pull ups, weighted squats and much, much more. To someone like me at first thought “there’s no darn way I could do THAT.”
Then I talked to one of the owners of my local gym. She assured me that anything is possible, and that I wouldn’t be expected to bust out push ups that any Marine would be proud of in my first class. It’s all about progression. The ol’ “you must first learn to walk before you learn to run” theory.
I bought a 20-class pass to test it out. Some of the workouts focused more on teaching me proper technique, and others tested my mettle. The way it’s set up is that there is a WOD, or workout of the day, that everyone is to do. Those with physical impairments may be scaled to work the same muscles doing safer movements for them. For weighted workouts, there is a “prescribed” weight, and then members can be scaled back from that until they are able to safely lift at that level.
Unlike traditional gyms, CrossFit gyms – or “boxes” – don’t have rows of cardio machines and fancy amenities. There is a lot of Olympic-style weight lifting incorporated into the workouts, as well as running and bodyweight activities.
After my 20-class pass was up, I was sold on it. I was ready for a change in my training. I spent the better part of last year focused on cardio, between training to be a Body Combat instructor and running my first marathon. I needed to push my body with weights.
I got over my intimidation and the fear that I couldn’t compete in that environment. I was surprised to feel comfortable with the idea of competing against myself.
In a short time, my strength has increased tremendously. I feel like I have a solid core. (And I’m not going to lie, I’ve got some sexy curves on my arms now.) My running time has vastly improved. My endurance has improved. My confidence has improved.
Is CrossFit for everyone? Well, that can be answered in a few different ways.
First, yes, CrossFit can be for everyone – but the caveat I will add is that so much depends on the coaches and how they can work with individual needs and scale them. I’m fortunate to have fantastic coaches who are real sticklers for form and work hard to ensure that no one gets hurt. When lifting the amount of weight often lifted, injury is possible if form is off.
Second, no. If you’re not willing to put in the work, you won’t reap the benefits. It’s not easy. If it were, everyone would be doing it. If your doctor advises against weight lifting for medical reasons, it’s not for you.
Third, maybe. Why not put any preconceived notions about it aside and check it out? Before you think “it’s too hard, I won’t be successful,” give it a try.
I felt right at home at my local CrossFit. The owner kept telling me that it’s a community like none other. People really are encouraging, and no one made me feel bad for not performing at a higher level. They had all been there at one time.
Plus, it’s fun to see the expressions on people’s faces when I tell them I CrossFit. I’ve gotten reactions from “that’s so cool!” to “oh man, that is way too tough.” Yes, and yes. But I love it, and it has done wonders for me. I still love my traditional gym for group fitness classes, too. Without a full-time personal trainer of my own, I don’t know that I would have been able to achieve as much as I have in such a short time without CrossFit.
Give it a try!
Editor’s note: This was not a sponsored post, but the experience of our health and fitness contributor. It is informational only. Please talk with your health care professional prior to starting any exercise program.