So you’re thinking of trying CrossFit...
In this two-part series, I get into all the reasons people give for not wanting to try CrossFit, all the reasons you should and testimonials from actual, real people who aren’t athletes and are CrossFit newbies themselves.
That statement is the epitome of #AlternativeFacts. And as Alec Baldwin would say…
CrossFit is no different from any other exercise program in that you can start it no matter what your level of fitness. Now, that said, it’s actually better than most other fitness programs for that very reason, but I’ll get to that in a bit.
When I first started CrossFit I thought I was fit. Even though I weighed somewhere around 175lbs (which was my lowest in years), I’d been working out 5-6 days a week, either doing videos or DVD’s in my house and some Zumba and step classes. I had pretty good conditioning, or so I thought. My coach later told me on a scale of 1-10 my fitness was a 1. Maybe a 2. Ouch. Really? How could that be?
Well let’s see:
- I couldn’t hang from a bar for more than 1 second
- I couldn’t do a push up (even on my knees the right way)
- I couldn’t do a bodyweight squat below or even at parallel
- Two burpees winded me
- I couldn’t clean a training bar
This is what I looked like when I started.
So yeah, I wasn’t fit. People often tell me, “Oh, but you’re so strong.” Well, I wasn’t. Strong is what I’v become, it’s not who I was. Anyone can become strong. ANYONE. I was soft. I was weak. I was the antithesis of strong. But what I was, and what I’ve become is determined. Dedicated. Passionate. CrossFit has tapped into a side of me I never knew existed. One that wants to prove I can do more than I ever thought possible.
I was 40, almost 41 when I started. So yeah, pretty ‘old.’ And now I’m in the best shape of my life. Your excuses are just that – excuses. There are people in their 60’s at my box working out daily. These people aren’t former Olympians. They’re people with jobs and families and children and grandchildren. They aren’t intimidated; they’re determined. Determined not to end up in a nursing home or bedridden or in a wheelchair. Determined to put their health first. Do they lift as much as the younger athletes? Of course not. But they do what they’re capable of and sometimes more. Age is a number. I often best younger people in a workout because I push myself more than they do. But I also know my limits. I know when to stop so I don’t get hurt. But I make sure to approach that line every day and just before I step over it, I pull back. Most of the time.
I have herniated discs. Two of them in my lower back. Severe enough that for 20 years on and off I had to see various Chiropractors. Severe enough that I would be incapacitated for days or weeks if I threw out my back. Severe enough that I couldn’t stand up straight. Severe enough that once I was hospitalized because the pain was so bad I couldn’t get off the floor.
When I considered trying CrossFit, this was my number one concern. Could I lift heavy? Could I deadlift? Surely I would worsen my back. Guess what? Quite the opposite. Because I improved my mobility, the tightness in my hamstrings lessened allowing my back tension to release. Because I strengthened my core, it was better able to support my back. In the 3+ years I’ve been doing CrossFit, I’ve tweaked my back maybe three times and each time I’ve recovered in days. And each time I wasn’t bedridden and I could stand up, I just needed to rest and stretch. There are people in every fitness regime with injuries, you just have to know how to manage them and listen to your body. CrossFit is no different.
Now, back to why CrossFit might actually be the best thing to start if you aren’t in shape or you’re injured or you’re older. Because it’s scalable. What does that mean? It means every single movement we do, every single exercise can be modified for any level of athlete. ANY level. I’ve modified almost every moment on my journey to learning them, and many I still modify. And when I’m injured, I don’t have to sit home, I can modify my movements to alleviate my injury. There are hundreds and thousands of ways to modify anything for anyone, but a good CrossFit coach will know how to help you. In fact, it’s their job.
Yes, CrossFit is expensive, but you get what you pay for. You get coaches who are experts in movement, who care about your progress and work with you hands-on in every single class, every single time. This isn’t just show up, do the work and leave. This is show up, develop a relationship, learn, grow, get support and come back for more. The coaches and the members care about each other. They push each other and support each other.
When you belong to a regular gym, you aren’t friends with everyone there on Facebook and Instagram. You don’t hang out with these people or know anything about their lives. No one cares about you. You pay your membership fee and if you show up great. If you don’t, know one cares. In fact, they bank on that very thing. But at a CrossFit box everyone is invested in you. Everyone knows about your family and your life. Everyone is happy to see you when you walk in the door and they know your name. It’s literally “Cheers”.
When I was out for a week, the welcome I got upon returning was amazing. Every person asked where I’d been. Wanted to know how I’d been doing and was concerned about me. This isn’t just about fitness. It’s about family. It’s about commitment. It’s about community.
So why should you try CrossFit? Because it just might change your life. You just might surprise yourself. You just might become the best version of yourself. And that is worth more than any membership fee.
In my next post, I’ll share testimonials from people who are new to CrossFit and what misconceptions they had and what they think of it now.