A year ago, I walked into a Crossfit box for the first time. At the time I didn’t know what to expect, I didn’t even know that Crossfit gyms are referred to as boxes. All I knew was I was interested in starting a new workout routine and needed some direction.
I had been a member at a number of different gyms over the years and always felt a little lost in them. I had taken a weight lifting class in high school but didn’t learn much about how to properly workout or how to really build a workout plan. I had done a few introductory appointments with coaches at the gyms I went to, but never really followed through on their recommendations. I often felt intimidated by the other people at the gym. I felt like they knew what they were doing and I was just fumbling around not really knowing what to do, or if I was doing anything right. Over the years I did a number of home workout programs, like P90X and other Beach Body videos. I also enjoyed yoga and running. Two years ago I ran my first half marathon and after that I continued to run a few times a week, but that was not giving me the results I wanted.
On that first day I met the gym’s main coach, Colin. He sat down with me and we talked a little bit about the gym and what my goals were. I told him that I was interested in getting in better shape, I wanted to feel stronger and have more endurance. Losing the extra “mom” weight I had been carrying was also on my goal list. Mostly I just wanted to feel more comfortable in my body. I signed up for the introductory 6 week beginner course. The course was a commitment to working out 3 days a week, in a beginner class, and had some dietary recommendations as well. I talked my friend Erin into joining with me, because everything is more fun with a buddy!
Over the next 6 weeks I learned a lot about the lingo at the gym, how to lift properly, and how to modify workouts to my fitness level. At all crossfit boxes there is a large white board that will have the workout of the day (WOD) listed on it. The workout will have different options listed: the prescribed (Rx) workout for those working at performance level, and then the scaled workout for those working on fitness or for the beginners. The scaled workout will usually have a lighter weight required or shorter runs or fewer reps. The goal is to do the workout as prescribed to the best of your ability. The workout changes everyday, it is all predetermined by the coaches of the gym. You never have to come up with your own workout or worry about your workout being the right ratio of cardio to strength, they do all the planning for you. You only have to show up and be ready to sweat. You can never get bored because it is always different.
Every class begins with a run down of the workout, then a warm up to get the muscles ready to work, then it is go time. At my box there are multiple start times throughout the day, sometimes you may only be working out with a few other people, some classes are packed with 15 or more people staggering equipment so everyone can get a spot.
Most workouts include a strengthening portion and a conditioning portion. Workouts may include different weight lifting moves like deadlifts, power cleans, back squats, clean and jerks, over head squats, kettlebell swings, and others. Body weight movements seen in WODs include: box jumps, burpees, pull ups, push ups, rope climbs, and sit ups. Then there is usually some cardio movements in there too like running, jumping rope, and rowing. If you are like me you may have a hard time remembering all the names of the different lifts, but the good thing is at each class the coach will breakdown the moves and have a mini class to refresh everyone on the proper way to lift. They are also there throughout the workout to make sure you are lifting safely and give guidance when needed.
There are a number of benchmark workouts known collectively as “the girls” used across all Crossfit gyms. Greg Glassman, the founder of Crossfit, named the workouts after girls like the National Weather Service does for storms because he felt these workouts leave you feeling like you were hit by a storm.
Workouts might include a time limit where you are trying to complete as many rounds or reps as possible in a set amount of time (AMRAP). Or the workout might be for time, complete x,y and z in the best time possible or total time (TT). Each class will have the names of participates listed on the whiteboard and their scores. If you do the workout as prescribed your score will also be marked with an Rx. If your score was a personal record for you it will get marked with a PR.
For me I am not the most competitive person, but I am always happy when I am not the lowest score or longest time on the board. I have had some PRs over the year but have yet to Rx any workouts. The scores aren’t really about who won or lost the workout, everyone is doing their own thing and working for their personal best. I have never felt any judgement from any of the people I workout with, it is always just high fives and job well done.
The coaches are amazing, they are great at pushing me to work harder but also smarter. When a workout or particular movement is not feeling right or if you have an injury they are there to give you a modification so you can still get a good workout, but not hurt yourself. I have a weakness in my shoulders where I don’t have very good range of motion over head. This probably comes from years of giving massages where I am strong at working on something in front of me but have not spent enough time working over head. I am working on improving that and it is getting better, but I usually have to modify over head weight bearing exercises like over head squat.
One of the biggest things I have gotten out of this year at Crossfit is the sense of community at the gym. You come together as strangers in all different levels of fitness and you all struggle together, support each other, and celebrate together. It is a wonderful thing to see the elite athletes working hard right next to you, pushing you to work harder. After my 6 weeks were over and I had graduated to regular Crossfit classes I was nervous to see what would come. But I was happily surprised at how helpful everyone was and how everyone was there to work hard and have fun. It wasn’t long before there was another group of beginners graduating into the regular classes and I was no longer the new kid in class.
When you workout on a regular basis you get to know the other people in your box. There is joking and stories being told throughout the warm up, you all grumble together about the rain or the cold. Many of us have small kids that come with us the to gym and play together while we workout. My daughter, loves to go to the gym with me. She likes to warm up with us when we are rolling out on the foam rollers and after the workout she loves to swing on the rings or play on the rower. Part of this community is being an example for the kids to stay active throughout life and make working out fun and enjoyable, not a chore.
So to wrap up the first year of my Crossfit journey, I have clocked over 150 WODs. I have learned a lot about my strengths and weakness, I have grown stronger and happier. I have met a wonderful group of awesome people who like to sweat with me. I have lost 15 lbs, 2 pant sizes, and inches off my waist and hips. More importantly, I have gainedconfidence, endurance, and a place in a community of active individuals.
As we move into spring and are about 2 months into our new year’s resolution, you may be finding yourself itching for a new workout routine, or a community to keep you motivated. If so I recommend you look for a Crossfit box near you and check it out. If you are in the Eugene area come work out with me at Crossfit Intensify and see what it is all about.
In the comments let me know what you think about Crossfit or what you do to stay motivated with your workouts!