I’ve touched briefly on Crossfit before, but I didn’t exactly elaborate at the time. And just perusing their website can be a little on the intimidating side. Especially for those of us who have never been athletic, no matter how many times we’ve tried.
I found out about Crossfit not through their website, but through word-of-mouth. I watched other bloggers discover it through their friends and undergo an amazing transformation from couch-log to fit human being. Deb Schwedhelm is one example, and you can find her crossfit-related posts at that link. Get Fit Slowly is another, although you’ll have to go back about two years in the archives to find where they had just started out.
My point is, I found out about it through people who were either not athletic or not very fit to begin with. So I know how intimidating the Crossfit website can be in comparison. And trust me, I walked into my first class more than a bit terrified. Because no matter how much I’ve tried, I’m simply not athletic. I played soccer when I was a kid, but I mostly guarded the goalie because then I wouldn’t have to run around as much. I ran cross country in high school for a semester and hated every minute of it. In college I discovered the elliptical and would sporadically get my exercise in that way, but it was just so boring. I hike when I can, but we don’t go very far. I’m just more of a walking person.
The thing that really piqued my interest was how these other, mostly non-athletic people, were having such fun. Exercise couldn’t be that much fun, could it? Apparently so. I never would have called weight-lifting fun before, but it really is.
So I looked into it, and I found out that Crossfit is many things, but mainly an emphasis on well-rounded fitness. At the end of the day, you should be fit enough to do anything – run, bike, hike, climb, jump rope, cartwheel, play soccer, etc. It’s not training for any specific thing; it’s training for everything. And the workouts of the day (WODs) reflect that. On Tuesday we ran, did weighted lunges, and burpees. On Monday we ran (our instructor really likes to make us run for warm-ups), did power cleans, ball throws (hold a 20lb medicine ball overhead and throw it at the ground, pick it up again, repeat), and ring pull-ups (we didn’t manage the pull-ups).
Almost every time either my fiancee or I was last to finish or had the lowest set of weights. But it was still fun and, even though I had to fight against every urge to stop or slow down, I managed to grit through and look forward to the next one. And I’ve figured, somebody has to be last and slowest and weakest. It might as well be me. It just gives me that much more room to improve and to astound both myself and others in the weeks, months, years(!) to come.
That said, it’s hard. Crossfit is designed to kick the ass of even the most fit. The instructors scale accordingly, of course, and a lot of the workouts are simply for time, so as you get better, you go through the routine faster and heavier. But I have despaired in the middle of almost every WOD, wondering how in hell I’m ever going to push myself through to the end and shouldn’t I just give up now? But then I see everyone else around me, struggling and sweating and grunting and wearing down, and somehow I manage to kick it up and get through.
And that’s the other thing I love about Crossfit: the group aspect. You can do the WODs on your own. A lot of people buy a few pieces of integral equipment and set up a home gym – Crossfit posts the WOD on their website, for free. But there are local gyms, called boxes, which are a better fit for those of us less disciplined. You won’t skip a workout because your class will notice your absence. You won’t throw in the towel halfway through because your classmates are all around you, working just as hard to get through it. When 20 or 50 push ups is simply expected of you, you’re much more likely to do it. Or at least, I am. And they won’t giggle and laugh when all you can deadlift is 85lbs because, honey, they’ve been there too.
So that’s it. Crossfit is fun, and it’s hard, and I’m going to keep doing it as long as I can.