I started doing Crossfit 3 weeks ago. I've been posting about my trials and tribulations on Facebook and have mentioned it in this blog and my weight loss blog.
But on a regular basis I get asked "What exactly IS Crossfit?"
Crossfit uses natural body movements and resistance to build a core level of fitness that can be utilized in daily activities as well as sports.
Okay, so what is it really?
There is limited equipment use- pull up bars, kettel bells, barbells, dumbbells, gymnastic rings, rowing machines, boxes and bands. Many of the exercises are simple ones from PE class- burpees, push ups, sit ups and squats.
There is a Workout of the Day (WOD) that is on the whiteboard. (The workouts are often named after women-- which is what caught my attention. My former high school principal would post that he did 8 reps of Mary. I would comment "Did you at least buy her dinner?") They are either time based (AMRAP)-- as many rounds as possible during set time period or round based-- 6 rounds and going for your best time.
The workouts vary daily- and I mean vary. I am currently taking a beginner intro class, so much of our class is spent on technique. The gym that I go to (or box as they call it), the coaches are very into making sure you do it right. All of the exercises can be scaled down-- sometimes not enough for me, to be honest.
We started the day with a 400m Indian Run (which I opted to walk and save my tribe, but through their encouragement joined back into). Then we did band exercises for the remaining warm up. The actual work out, after reviewing the techniques were 20, 15, 10 thrusters (barbell squats to an overhead push press) alternating with 10, 15, 20 kettel bell swings.
What I really like about it is that while I am sore, I am never hurt. The varying workouts are logically designed and coordinated so that I work everything during the week without overfocusing on one exercise (which I do when I work out on my own).
So that's the basics.
Now MY version of Crossfit is a little different.
It involves moaning, whining, and figuring out the lowest/easiest form of what ever the exercise is. I never thought I could jump 18 inches onto a box. I can. I still cannot do a pull up, but I can do modified dips on the rings far better than I could have imagined.
I giggle when they use the term snatch. I'm sorry. It's funny.
I often roll my eyes.
I described burpees to one unsuspecting classmate as "the thing that coaches make you do when you piss them off." No, it is NOT an opportunity to further enhance your athleticism, although that was a lovely way for our coach to put it.
When I was doing kettel bell swings and the coach said I needed to pop and explode my hips more, I couldn't keep as straight face as he demonstrated a fierce hip thrust. I kept thinking "I've been married 10 years-- my hips stopped doing that a long time ago..." (my husband doesn't think that's funny, by the way...).
I am a bad Crossfitter.
I haven't lost any weight, shockingly. But what I have noticed is my clothes are looser and more importantly, when I was helping my parents move last week, I was insanely stronger. I lifted things, twisted more smoothly-- I was stunned. Last year at this time, I was on the couch recovering from surgery after having spending the large portion of the spring in constant back pain. I couldn't bend over to tie my shoes, let alone lift a 50 lb box.
What a difference a year makes.
To the other crossfitters I'm probably just an old, fat chick slowing them down. To me, I'm fighting from the inside out. No, hanging from the pull up bar for 30 seconds was not as great as doing 7 knee ups, but it really IS the best I've got as humiliating as it is. And last year, I wouldn't have lasted 10 seconds. Or even tried.
I'm scared to death to try the "real" class next week. I'm afraid I'm in over my head.
But I am going to try. With my sarcastic bubble over my head, of course.
Because the strange thing is, as terrible as I am at it (and trust me, I am TERRIBLE), it's a bit addicting. I was warned that it was cultish. It is. It's not fun, but it feels more like play. A torturous, hellish play, but still it's a game-- beat your times, beat your rounds. It's inherently self-competitive without being competitive with others. My balance is getting better. My core is stronger. I'm sleeping better.
It appears that it works. No matter how bad I am, it's still working. I've decided to stay off the scale for the remainder of the summer. I want to be fit. Besides, even if I never lose a pound, I still need to exercise for the rest of my life.
So that's what Crossfit is. In a way, it's become a personal quest for me to just be able to do the work outs. I think it's something different to everyone. It's not just an exercise class. That doesn't even begin to describe it.
If you're looking into it, don't wait. Give it a shot. It is difficult. It is overwhelming. But until you've done it, you won't understand.