I am new to CrossFit. I started at the first of December and am about 6 weeks in. I have been traveling a lot, so I haven’t been able to go to classes as much as I want as consistently as I want. But, I have been able to go to classes and visit traditional gyms. This gave me an interesting perspective on CrossFit, traditional gyms, and my own workout programming. I’ve witnessed first hand the difference between what happens at a CrossFit gym and a traditional gym. I’ve witnessed and heard some hilarious things in the last few weeks, and, most importantly, I’ve learned a lot about the benefits of CrossFit and about myself. I’m not going to show you a before and after picture because I don’t have one and you don’t want to see it. Even if I did, I wouldn’t show it! I have a ways to go before I’m willing to do that. This is about what I learned in six weeks and how CrossFit has improved many areas of my life.
Years ago, I got into strength training. I started a very simple program recommended in Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe. Generally, the training involved 5 sets of 5 reps of squats, deadliest, overhead press, bench press, and barbell rows. You generally trained three times a week with at least one day between workouts, and you squatted every day! It was a great program. I say massive improvements in my strength. I didn’t know what a deadliest was when I started. At the height of my training, I hit a PR of 385 pounds. I put on some pounds.
Then, I got burned out. Squatting three times a week was brutal, and I started dreading going to the gym. Instead of pushing through, I started looking at different programs to try for a few weeks. A few weeks turned into a few months, which turned into a couple of years. I started the 5x5 training again, but got totally discouraged because I lost a ton of strength. I knew it would take me a while to get back where I was.
I was going through the motions at the gym. I was maintaining, but not really seeing any results. I felt good that I was going to the gym, but I wasn’t giving it my all.
Then, I started CrossFit. I started for me. I wanted to try something different, and I hoped that the constantly varied workout would keep me interested and engaged. I don’t do well with the same routine for too long!
My experience so far has been great! Here are a few things I’ve learned in my first 6 weeks:
1. Working out on my own sucks, and I generally suck at it: I have always worked out on my own. I didn’t like having a workout parter because you had to coordinate a time to go that works for everyone, and there was some inconsistency. I like to get up when I could and go workout without having to worry about somebody else’s schedule. I also did my own programming, mostly focused on strength. I would work hard, but not nearly hard enough. I wouldn’t push myself at all. I settled for what was easy and routine. I was, and am, capable of so much more than what I was doing. I was not pushing myself, and I was definitely not pushing myself to be better. I was maintaining, and I guess that was okay. And, what’s funny about that is that I am typically a very driven and motivated person. I work hard and I’m efficient. But at the gym, I was lazy. Doing CrossFit workouts has pushed me to do more than I thought I could and in a supportive environment where people care. I am now doing more in one hour than I was in a full week of training, and I love it!
2. Come as you are: When I started, I didn’t know how to do all of the movements. I was totally inflexible in my shoulders, elbows, ankles, and, well, everywhere! Now, I’m about half flexible, which is significant improvement. I learned that I was making minor mistakes on some movements that had a huge impact on my ability to perform the movement and could lead to a higher risk of injury. Christine and Steven coached me through some of these. I certainly don’t know everything, and there is so much more to learn, but I know that my coaches started me where I was and are slowly taking me to where I need to be.
3. Safety first: One perception you may have about CrossFit is that it’s intense, or TOO intense. This may be true at some gyms, but it’s not true at KCI CrossFit. The coaches are first and foremost focused on your technique, form, and movement. They want you to be able to achieve maximum results without injury. They don’t add weight until you’re ready. I never knew that a PVC pipe workout could be so effective!
4. Show up ready to give 100% and focus: When I worked out on my own, I could listen to my music or podcasts and generally jack around between sets. I would check email and Facebook for minutes at a time. I would even take phone calls on occasion while doing sets! There was very little focus. In a CrossFit workout, you have to get focused. Not only do you need to be focused, I found that you WANT to be focused so you can give it everything you have. With other people giving it their all, there is no way I’m going to leave anything behind!
5. Don’t compare yourself to others: Every person has a different reason for being at CrossFit, including you. There is absolutely no reason to compare yourself to anyone but yourself. You are there to get better, and you get better by following the programming and advice of your coach. Others are there to motivate and inspire you. It is a completely judgment free environment. Give your best, focus on becoming better yourself, and never ever compare yourself to somebody else.
6. Follow your coaches advice: I’m not exactly one to follow the rules, unless my CrossFit coach tells me to do something. If they tell me to do it, I do it without question. I trust that they know what’s best for me and that they are there to make sure that I grow stronger and faster without injuring myself. They have taken me through technique drills that increased my range and mobility. They watch my form and correct me when I’m doing something wrong. I am confident that I am doing the right things when they are guiding me through the process. No YouTube video can do that for you.
7. Eat right: I don’t follow the Paleo diet…at least not yet…but I have been more conscious about what I’m eating. If I eat junk, I feel terrible when I work out. If I eat well, I have a ton more energy that I can put into my workouts. It also affects my overall energy throughout the day and my mood. Seeing results from small improvements in my diet makes me want to continue making additional small changes which will create additional positive results.
8. Your discipline will increase: By regularly going to classes and working out on my own, my discipline in other areas of my life have increased. My focus has generally increased, and I know that I am capable of more. When I don’t want to do something, I have more strength and energy to push through.
9. If you work hard, you will get results, and you will want more: After just a few weeks of working hard, I started noticing that I had a little less belly, my mobility was improved, and my overall happiness improved. There’s something about working hard that releases endorphins that make you feel happy.
10. The community really cares: Without knowing many people at KCI when I started, I was amazed at how these complete strangers accepted me and supported me. I found people cheering me on to finish a rep even when they were out of breath (and knowing they were about to start again). The community pushes you to move past what you think you are capable of and supports you in the process. You also grow closer to the group as you complete these workouts with them. There is an overwhelming sense of accomplishment that comes after every day you are there.
Finally, I am a little stronger, and a lot more fit than when I started. I am much less winded when doing workouts. More importantly, I learned that I can push myself farther in every aspect of my life if I put in focused energy into a task.
If you have wanted to try CrossFit, I highly recommend you try KCI CrossFit. If you are looking to push yourself a lithe farther, I highly recommend KCI.
I hope to see you here, and I hope to hear about everything you learned and accomplished in your first six weeks!