I started doing Crossfit at the beginning of 2014. I don’t do New Years Resolutions because I figure if you really want to do something, you’ll just do it. So at the end of December 2013 I found a local gym that ran CrossFit classes and signed up.
I’ve heard people refer to Crossfit as a vortex of pain. And chances are if anyone tells someone doing Crossfit that they are batshit crazy, they will take it as a compliment. Just like any other type of fitness there is a gargantuan amount of fat shaming and just general grossness that goes along with some CrossFit inspiration out there. I suggest you avoid that.
But what is it?
Crossfit, at core is a perpetually changing mix of aerobic exercise, body weight exercises (things like push ups, squats, burpees, pull ups) and Olympic weight lifting performed at high intensity. Classes would generally include a warm-up, a skill development part, the high intensity ‘workout of the day’ (WOD) and a cool-down/stretch. It’s strength and conditioning designed to improve your muscular strength, endurance and flexibility.
Was I scared?
Hell yes. I was used to running which didn’t involve doing exercise in front of other people who would realise I had no coordination skills whatsoever. I might have cried before I went in the first time thing because I get very socially anxious in those types of situations. But here’s the thing, regardless of what you might see on the internet about the hard-core nature of CrossFit, what a trainer at any gym will want for you is to be fit. You can’t be fit if you are injured. So they will adapt exercises, they will teach you and they will support you through the learning process.
What I love about it.
For someone who is used to endurance exercise of often two hours or more, the idea of going to a gym to do a WOD that will last for 20-30 minutes is actually really appealing. No matter how hard it is, it’s only 20 minutes. It works muscles that running doesn’t touch and I know the high intensity part of it is very different too. I have a different kind of muscle exhaustion at the end of it. And yes, I throw around the term ‘good pain’ a whole lot more.
What I get out of it
Even if you don’t want to do CrossFit I am a big advocate of strength workouts. I don’t have the discipline to do them at home on my own, but it’s really easy to do with hardly any equipment. A few things happen with strength workouts. The first is that it kicks up your metabolism so you can eat more or lose weight (whichever appeals to you). It will develop your endurance in cardio workouts. And the perpetual change associated with strength workouts has some huge benefits. If you are doing the same type of exercise all the time your body gets used to it, gets more efficient at it and burns less calories to get it done. Mixing up your regular workouts with something that is always changing means that your body can’t get used to it, can’t get lazy and will get more out of it as a result.
Crossfit advocates Paleo. Do you Paleo?
No I do not. I’m vegetarian for starters. Paleo knocks out dairy, grains and legumes. So right off the bat I’d lose all sources of protein. There is no way it would work for me. And even if I was a meat eater I would have serious doubts as to the health benefits of Paleo. You know what I do like? Moderation. So I have started eating less processed grains and replacing with vegetable carbohydrates instead and butter, lots of butter.
One Month In
Now, it’s hard to attribute things to Crossfit because at the beginning of 2014 I quit smoking, quit drinking, increased my kms by about double and started going to Crossfit and I also started eating more healthy foods. But I had been wanting to lose some extra weight for awhile to get me to a better race weight come later in the year and in my first month I lost about 3kgs which was enough inspiration for me to keep going.