Just recently I have had the pleasure of a CrossFit Coach walk into the gym that I own. This gentleman looked an amazing picture of health and energy, after he had a good look around the gym to see if we had some of the equipment that he needed to perform his workout. He informed me he was a CrossFit athlete and Coach.
I have always been interested in “functional fitness” the type of exercises that keep us moving and strong as we move into our twilight years, so I was lucky enough to have what he needed and in exchange for a place to work out he offered to include myself and some of our members in some basic workouts to get a feel for what CrossFit is all about.
But first, what is CrossFit? For a very clear definition of what CrossFit is all about a quick visit to the CrossFit website will give you all the technical side of what they are all about. To me what CrossFit is about is short bursts of high intensity, moving and activating all your body using agility, strength, cardio, gymnastics, and endurance, and it is scalable to suit all people at all levels. Now for any Cross Fits enthusiasts out there please know that this is just my very limited beginner’s take on what it is. The one thing I do know with my limited exposure to it is that if you step up and try it, it is very empowering, satisfying and fun in a very strange way, and insanely quick! Especially great if you are short on time and use that as an excuse for avoiding the workout.
What did I learn from the first few sessions? Well I can say that after each and every workout the heart rate had increased dramatically, I had used muscles that I didn’t know existed and while I thought that I was reasonably flexible I had limited range of movement in some if not all areas of my body, due to exercise being repeated over and over again with limited range of motion. And don’t be fooled with the short amount of time it can take, my first workout was 3 minutes and 26 seconds!
These are my big 3 takeaways and advice to anyone who is even remotely considering trying it out:
1. Leave your ego at the front door – enter with a beginners mind and be prepared for your body to relearn how to move with a full range of motion. If you are new to exercise don’t try and do what the person next to you is doing, scale it to your level. Great Coaches will be able to help with this, if you are doing it on your own look and search for the substitutions for the exercises and USE them. They are an amazing amount of videos available to do this. There is no such thing as “they must be better than me as they are lifting more, going faster” or whatever the exercise is. They have just had more practice or been doing it longer. Remember everyone was once a beginner. Take your time and get it right. You will see improvements much quicker by taking the substitution that is right for you than choosing something that you are not quite ready for.
2. Trust Yourself – your body is an amazing tool and most of the time will do a whole lot more than you think it will. Example, we all started the 1st session together and we were working with people who hadn’t done any activity in 2 years as well as fitness instructors. Throughout the session we heard on more than one occasion – “no I can’t do this, I can’t finish” After that we we’re all able to jump 2 footed on to box that is almost up to my waist and I’m 5 ft 3. This I would have told you was impossible for me just 30 seconds before I did it. Everyone finished and the look of surprise and achievement on those people’s faces was priceless. Your body will do what you want – You just have to ASK it! That’s the hard bit!
3. Anyone can do this – and I mean anyone can do this! Remember what you see on the news and on the internet are the athletes, they train to be competitive. To pit their bodies against another CrossFitter, just like other athletes compete in their chosen sports. The one thing that all athletes have in common is the have a coach. I would recommend if you are serious about perusing this avenue of exercise get a coach. The internet will point you to CrossFit coaches in your local are (there are more than you think!) There are plenty of bod weight workouts that you can try while you are trying it out, but stay away from the lifts with the big heavy bars unless being coached.
Dawn Fritsch is a Gym Owner and Alternative Fitness Coach who specializes in Fitness for Fun. She believes that fitness should be be able to be done anywhere at anytime without the need to be at the gym.