So, yeah. I try not to talk about Crossfit that often because apparently, crossfitters love to talk about how they do crossfit.
But you know what? With the crossfit open in full effect, and having just finished my second open workout I want to talk about it. And it’s my blog, so…I do what I want.
Whenever I do mention anything about Crossfit, I usually get one of two reactions.
The first one looks something like this:
and the second one is usually a strong word of warning from someone who thinks that all crossfit gyms are OK with their athletes having form that looks like this:
Why Crossfit? What? Are you Crazy? You’re gonna die.
If I’ve learned anything from talking to non-crossfitters about Crossfit…it’s that they just. don’t. get. it.
I first heard about Crossfit through reading various paleo blogs. From what I’d read, it was an extreme form of working out that anyone who considered themselves physically fit absolutely had to try.
If you don’t know what exactly Crossfit is…I’m not going to tell you. It’s hard to explain. It’s just…everything. If you want to know more, watch this video.
Loving a challenge, I decided I had to try Crossfit. Luckily, I moved within a couple miles of a box (that’s what Crossfit gyms are called) shortly before they offered a groupon for an introductory class. I jumped on that opportunity and have been doing Crossfit regularly ever since. About seven months. In that time, I’ve learned more than I ever thought I could from exercising and honestly, I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to go back to my old way of working out (aka making up my own stuff and doing it alone in my apartment and hating every second of it). What have I learned and why is everyone so obsessed with Crossfit? You’re about to find out.
You’re doing it wrong.
Before starting Crossfit, I usually just made up my own exercise routine and worked out in my apartment. I watched videos on youtube, I read articles about proper form, I watched Jillian Michaels, Shaun T, Tony Horton, and any other “fitness guru” videos I could get my hands on. Needless to say, I was pretty sure I was like…really good at working out. Until I went to Crossfit.
In general, I like to think that I don’t need help with things. I view having to ask for help or instruction as a sign of weakness. Which leads to me never asking for help. Which leads to me doing things wrong. Which, in the case of exercising, could lead to serious injury.
Crossfit has shown me that not only is it okay to ask for help and instruction, but it’s necessary if you want to become better. People know more than you and that’s okay. You can’t figure out everything on your own…and it’s incredibly valuable having someone on the outside point out things you didn’t even realize you were messing up.
Kettlebell and Feet
Working out alone sucks
For two years I worked out alone. I preferred it that way. Not just because I’m a recluse and being around other people in general makes me anxious, but because I thought working out with other people would hold me back.
What I didn’t realize was that being surrounded by others who are working just as hard, if not harder than you, can force you to do incredible things you never thought you’d be able to do.
If I’m on my third round of 50 squats and I feel like I want to die or give up but everyone around me is still going, am I going to stop? Heck no! If they can do it, so can I.
(note: although it’s important to know your limit and if I literally felt like dying, I would stop)
In addition to this, exercising at Crossfit is like exercising with a bunch of cheerleaders. Well, not exactly because they’re less peppy and don’t do cartwheels (at least…not usually)…but they do cheer you on.
My very first day at Crossfit, we had to run 400 meters in the beginning of our workout. When we finished the run, there was a guy standing at the door cheering us on and telling us we did a great job. I was so confused. All we did was run 400 meters. And I’m pretty sure I looked like an elephant slipping on ice the entire time. Nope, no matter how difficult what you’re doing is, this is a regular occurrence. Crossfitters cheer for each other and encourage one another. That’s just how it works.
Crossfit is the main reason I wrote that post on positivity a couple weeks ago.
You can’t imagine the difference it makes having someone standing next to you telling you you can do something until you experience it. And even if you fail, they’re still there to congratulate you for trying, give you some tips, and tell you you’ll get it next time.
Me Ready to Squat
I’m actually happy in this photo, I swear. (source)
Keeping a Record is Important
Like I said, prior to Crossfit, my workouts were all over the place and I never really logged anything. When you’re not keeping track of your workouts, it’s really hard to notice the progress you’ve made. If you’re not noticing your progress, it’s a lot harder to stay on track.
I realized this a couple weeks ago when someone asked me why I do Crossfit. I didn’t really have a great answer. Well, aside from the fact that I think it’s fun…that’s not really the reason I started. I started to get in better physical shape. Then I started wondering if I was even in better physical shape at all because to me, it doesn’t really seem like I am.
Instead of just wondering, I went back to my logs and found a record of two of the same workouts that I had done a couple months apart. Sure enough, the second time I did the workout, I completed two more rounds than I had before. I couldn’t believe it. I guess I am getting stronger and I don’t even realize it. After seeing that, I genuinely felt more excited to go workout because I knew it was working. I knew I was making progress and getting closer to my goal.
Regardless of whether or not you choose Crossfit or some other form of exercise, it’s crucial that you keep track so you can recognize your progress. When you get discouraged, look back and see how far you’ve come.
Shoulder Press (source)
You Are Your Biggest Competition
Every single person is different. We have different genetics, different experience levels, different genders, different weights, different strengths and different weaknesses. That’s why, in Crossfit most of the time you are your own competition.
You’re not competing against the girl in the corner who looks like she was born with a six pack, the lady next to you who is working on getting her first push up, or the dude in front of you deadlifting a Jeep Wrangler.
You’re trying to beat yourself. The person you were yesterday, last week, last month, last year. Your goal is to be stronger, better, faster than that person you used to be.
You don’t know those other people’s situations. You don’t know what they do with the other 23 hours in their day or what they’ve been doing for their whole life and they don’t know you. They are not your competition.
YES, I KNOW. Thank you everyone ever who has sent me an article about someone whose legs and arms fell off after an intense Crossfit session. Yes, I read the article. Yes, I know it’s dangerous. Yes, you can hurt yourself if you do it wrong.
You know what else is dangerous? Walking. Driving. Running. Reading a book (papercuts, duh.) LIFE. Should I stop living because I might hurt myself? Obviously not. You’re just careful and take precautions. Which is what we do at Crossfit.
We learn how to do the movements properly, we have people spotting us when we lift heavy weights. We have coaches to tell us if we’re doing it wrong. We have coaches to tell us to stop when we don’t feel comfortable. We use our own discretion just like anything else in life.
I mean, I can’t speak for every Crossfit box in the world, but the one I go to is pretty great about making sure everyone is doing everything correctly. If there’s a box that doesn’t do that then..just…don’t…go…there….
Don’t be an idiot! Know your limit, listen to your coaches, read stuff about doing things properly, you know…stuff you should do in life and you’ll be okay. Sometimes people get hurt regardless of how cautious they are. That’s just a thing that happens in life. Sorry.
Work It Out
Every day I’m at Crossfit I’m growing stronger physically and mentally. I have to coach myself to push through the thought that I can’t do something or that I’m making a fool of myself and I’m stronger because of it. And obviously I’m getting stronger physically from actually doing the workouts.
If you hadn’t noticed, I’m pretty much in love with Crossfit and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to go back. Every decision I make is preceded by the thought, “Can I do this and still make it to Crossfit today?” Which, admittedly, might be slightly unhealthy but…I’m working on it.
So why do Crossfitters never shut up about Crossfit? I think it’s a combination of a lot of the things I mentioned with an huge emphasis on achievement. We’re taught to celebrate our success and celebrate the success of others. We’re encouraged to recognize that we’re working hard and that we’re taking the time to invest in ourselves and we’re taught to share that recognition with everyone working out around us. It makes us feel great and we want everyone to feel great. That’s all. We’re doing it for you! Come…join us…drink the kool-aid.
All right. It’s out of my system, now. Thanks for listening. I promise (probably) I won’t lecture about Crossfit again. I just needed to get out these thoughts out of my head for now.
Whether Crossfit is your thing or not, getting some sort of exercise is super important and can greatly improve not only your physical health but other aspects of your life as well. Now it’s your turn, do you do Crossfit or some other form of exercise? What have you learned from it? Let me know in the comments!