Welcome to CrossFit
Crossfit is all its cracked-up to be.
About a year ago, a CrossFit Gym (CrossFit 2120) opened next door to my office. I got to know the owner, Dan a bit. He is a super-cool guy from Michigan (like me), a Red Wings fan (like me), a surfer (like me), and ripped (totally unlike me). I helped him a bit with his website when he opened and he gave me some fitness tips and offered to let me workout with them.
I thought about it, but seeing and hearing the workouts taking place outside my window was more than a little intimidating. He trained football players, and olympic athletes, and service men and women of all stripes. All that neighboring energy did inspire us to install a pull up bar and rings in the office, and I figured maybe one day I’d try get into shape a bit and diet a bit and do enough pull ups to actually take him up on the offer without embarrassing myself too much.
It never happened. But this week, I did commit to heading over there and I actually finally worked out with Dan’s CrossFit crew. Holy cow. I mean seriously, Wow.
Ive done fitness before. I played football from 3rd grade till high-school. At one point in my life (after grad-school), I lost over 100 lbs. I’ve run, lifted weights, and had a personal trainer. I’ve had a gym in the office (at mp3.com), and a gym membership (at LA Fitness). I’ve even done P–90X (it does work). But even after only four workouts, I’ve never, never, ever experienced anything quite like CrossFit.
First, the workouts are basic and technical and high-intensity. You don’t need to be a PhD in kinestheology to know with certainty that these workouts will work (in fact, you can simply look around the room for clear evidence that they do). Yes, some of the moves are a bit intimidating (like olympic lifts), but they are completely scaled for beginners and you are under very close supervision. Given the structure and support of the classes, pulling off some of the more intimidating moves is incredibly gratifying and you really begin to understand how some of these basic exercises (e.g. deadlifts, squats, snatch, etc.) have stood the test of time as the bedrock of overall strength training.
What really separates the CrossFit experience from anything else I’ve ever tried is the culture. The whole thing is permeated by a culture of excellence. From the coach to the participants to ultimately, yourself. There is a constant expectation of excellence in every detail. From times, weights, rep counts, and other performance metrics, through form and warmup and flexibility.
Though I’ve lifted weights plenty and even had personal training, I’ve never understood form as well as I do even just one week into CrossFit. The over-riding emphasis is on getting it right and on performance, not pure bulk or size. You’re hitting strength, flexibility, coordination, and cardio (often all in one workout).
Then, there is the were all in it together ethos. I'd heard this about CrossFit, but never experienced it. It is real. The entire class is an incredibly supportive group. You want to perform well for and with your classmates and you want to help them out and you want to keep coming back. I can see that this is potentially the most valuable part of the entire experience. Knowing how to exercising is fairly easy, actually doing it is hard. Having people around to support you and hold you accountable is perhaps the best way to give yourself a chance at success. So far so good (and so sore). Ill keep everyone posted.