It was the summer of 2017. I had bought 10 classes for an Acro yoga studio on Groupon. At that time, I was just going to a regular gym doing a few sets of some reps with dumbbells, occasional barbell exercises and using a few machines. I was in and out of the gym in about 45 minutes and I was doing this for 3-4 times a week. I wanted to try Acro yoga on top of this because it was not going to mess with my training as it is a low intensity exercise…. and because I heard Tim Ferriss speak highly of it. I’ll be honest. I liked it. It was challenging, fun and moving. With the spirit of trying new things, I wanted to see what else I can try on Groupon. Enter CrossFit…
There it was, the sport that I heard so much about. The sport that people either loved or criticized. “You should do CrossFit because you get to train like you never would do on your own.” “Don’t ever do CrossFit because you’ll get injured.” “CrossFit is really fun, you move barbells and swing kettlebells. Try it!” “Are you insane? Why would you want to do all those weird exercises at a high intensity? I’ve never seen big arms on a CrossFitter. Don’t do it!” The best idea when it comes to stuff like this is not to listen to everything you hear, but to try it yourself. So, I bought 6-week unlimited classes at a CrossFit gym near me: Spark CrossFit in Phoenix.
My first day was July 18th, 2017: 3 rounds of 5-minute AMRAP (as many rounds/reps as possible) intervals. So, it is 5 minutes on, 5 minutes off for 3 rounds. And the rounds included running, deadlifts and bar-facing burpees (you do a burpee facing the barbell, you jump over it, then repeat). The coach, wisely, scaled the weight of the deadlifts for me. By the time I was in the middle of the second round, I started to slow down. And in the third round, I was basically moving like a turtle. It was so humbling, but I loved it. And the main reason that I loved it so much is because I sucked at it. I was thinking that I was in a good shape. Yet, I was given a workout that showed me there was so much more potential, so much more ground that I could cover when it came to fitness. Another person could go into the same workout in the same fitness level as I was, struggle the way I did and say, “This is not for me!” But, it made me realize that I can be so much better.
I scaled everything. In the beginning, it is a wise move to go with lower weights, learn the proper technique and leave your ego at the front door. If it said 24-inch box jumps, I was doing 20-inch box jumps. If it said, 225-lb deadlifts, I did 135 lbs. If it said 95-lb thrusters, I did empty bar. If it said pull-ups, I did ring rows. I have been doing CrossFit for more than 5 months now, and I still scale down some movements. There are some movements that I still can’t do such as pull-ups because I need to work on kipping, handstand push-ups because I need to work on kicking up and shoulder strength, squat snatches because I need to improve mobility. But it is the process that I enjoy. It’s been more than 5 months as I said, and I’m still improving. That is one of the top reasons I love CrossFit. There is always room for improvement.
It is much more than just barbells. In CrossFit, yes, you do train for weightlifting (snatches, cleans and jerks) and powerlifting (squats, deadlifts, occasional bench press). But, you also run, row, bike; do gymnastics such as kipping pull-ups, handstand push-ups, ring rows, ring dips, muscle-ups; lift/move/swing dumbbells and kettlebells; jump rope, do wall-balls, box jumps, burpees, calisthenics, etc. CrossFit is constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity. When you read high intensity, do not be scared. Because everybody is different. One’s mild pace can be another’s high intensity. Thanks to wide scaling options, everyone can do it. You may be a high-charging athlete or a 40-year-old single mom; you may be a 20-year-old college student that never worked out or a 65-year-old person that wants to feel young again. With proper coaching and scaling, you will get the benefits of a CrossFit workout.
The community! The best part of doing CrossFit, in my opinion, is the community. You surround yourself with the same-minded people that loves to work out, and live a healthy life. Everyone cheers for one another in a no-judgement zone, and high-fives fly in the air. You warm up and cool down as a group. You sweat and improve your life and fitness together. You make new friends and hang out outside the gym. You play fantasy football and brag about your team in a friendly manner. You play pick-up basketball or study together. You make connections and network with people. You start on a weight-loss journey with a few people, discuss what works or doesn’t work for you. The community and the support is hands-down the best part of CrossFit.
In a future article, I’ll mention some of the improvements I made in the last months, but I think I gave you enough reasons to consider starting CrossFit. Don’t take my word for it. Try it. See if you like it. Some CrossFit gyms in your area may have specials for beginners. They may have some deals on Groupon. Ditch your solo workouts that you do wearing headphones for a while and give CrossFit a shot. You may find something you love to do.