When I signed up for six weeks of crossfit I had already a preconceived idea of what to expect. I’ve visited crossfit gyms before, long time ago I even had a personal trainer who was also a crossfit coach. My biggest (mis) conception of this modality was that it was tough. I mean, really. Pushing you over your limits to the point of breaking. I thought crossfit was deliberately mean.
Crossfit is not mean
Well, crossfit is tough, but it isn’t mean. It proposes a mix of gymnastics, functional movement, speed and strength. Developed by Greg Glassman over the course of several decades, CrossFit’s Founder and CEO, was the first person in history to define fitness in a meaningful, measurable way: increased work capacity across broad time and modal domains. A gymnast at a young age, Glassman believed he could increase his strength a lot faster with the use of barbells as opposed to body weight only, as with most of his fellow gymnasts. He started Crossfit Inc in 2000, Santa Barbara, later becoming a popular phenomena in sports and fitness.
I decided to join Crossfit Hale in Berkeley/Richmond (California) area after a year long battle with hormones and birth control that deteriorated my health, and consequently my ability to exercise. I believed that their 6 weeks program of intense workout, nutrition coaching plus community building for accountability, was exactly the boost I needed to get back on the game, lose the weight I had gained over the months and feel like myself again.
The first few days of classes were slow and consisted of a baseline workout, body scan and basic guidelines. For the longest time I was stuck on 130lb and 19% body fat, but after everything my body went through (and let’s be honest, being 32, it was no surprise to find myself at 159 lb and 27% body fat). Needless to say, I wasn’t happy.
The program introduced us to the Whole30 diet which I really enjoyed. I thought it was the perfect system to reset my body, and help it detoxify and energize me. Diet plays a huge role in fitness and I believe that following the Whole30 was really the game changer on my health, I’m very thankful I was introduced to it.
However, after the first week I was left with the impression classes are too easy and it won’t give me the intensity I need. Sure, asking me to run 800m felt like I was going to puke, but that’s because I hate running. What I came to realize is that the entire program was designed to be very thoughtful and inclusive of people with no exercise experience, gradually increasing intensity as it goes. Warm-ups were very instructional and coaches payed great deal of attention to form. They’re incredibly present, attentive and qualified.
It started slowly but it moved up quickly. Once coaches were confident in our ability to move with perfect form and safety, sh*t got real! I was introduced to acronyms like WOD (Workout of the Day), AMRAP (As many repetition as possible) or EMOM (every minute on the minute – fun!) which added a grain of competitiveness to my everyday workout. I’ve abandoned the focus on repetitions a long time ago when I started in acrobatics. My method was always to “do it until you can’t”. This approach, however, brings an element of speed and endurance I confess I had NONE OF! On the other hand, I like the idea of competing against your past self, trying to beat that last time. It’s great for fitness and great for life. Progress, always. They also made sure to celebrate Personal Records or PRs. The environment was very inclusive and very encouraging. I like it!
So yes, it kicked my ass, but also changed my initial idea of the mean fitness completely. I was impressed with the quality of work and how amazing instructors were. Rings, rope and handstands weren’t new to me so I was a little more critical of it. Granted, no one is trying to perform in the circus over there, so it works. If I had to change one thing though, it’d be the complete lack of focus on stretching. As it seems, Crossfit can get you strong fast, which also means without proper stretches, you’d lose flexibility pretty quickly, and that, as we know, is the recipe for injury (strength + short range of motion).
Bottom line I really enjoyed this method and environment. No wonder it has been such a hit since 2000. Within the 6 weeks I lost 6 lb of fat, went from 27% BMI to 23%. I couldn’t be happier and ready to get back on the game.