Crossfit has to be one of those sports that everyone who doesn’t do it fears it, or at least I know I did. Everyone I had talked to about it had said that it was painful and that you could injure yourself easily. Let’s get one thing straight, with any type of sport or exercise you could injure yourself if you’re not properly trained and yes, it hurts because you are using muscles you probably never used before. Crossfit is a sport that challenges you both physically and mentally and I’m glad that I started.
I joined crossfit in June of 2017 not knowing what to expect. I wanted to explore types of cross training outside of running and I wanted to challenge myself with another form of exercise. Jessie and I walked into our first “box” as they call it (which apparently is a fancy way of saying gym) and saw people of all ages sweating their butts off with dance music pumping through speakers. At first I wasn’t sure what to think, but I got it. The music helps pump you up as well as covers up the grunts and heavy breathing of each athlete. There wasn’t a lot of heavy machinery like what you would find in a chain of gyms like L.A. Fitness or Planet Fitness or any other type of gym that tries to sell you some type of garbage membership. There were actual dumbbells, plates, barbells, ropes, pull-up rigs, medicine balls, and balls with handles (yeah I know they’re called kettle bells, but at the time I had no idea). This “box” had a different feel to it than other gyms.
After a few sessions with the owner (Bryan) we were ready to jump into our first workout or “WOD” which is short for workout of the day. I can honestly tell you that I probably haven’t been worked so hard in my life. I mean, I’m a runner and as far as I knew, my legs were my power house and I needed to work on upper body strength. I was a little taken back by how my legs didn’t seem as strong as I thought. Suddenly, I was not as confident going into crossfit as I was originally. Jessie and I went home after the first WOD and felt drained, but not sore which was great. Our plan was to attend a class 2 times a week, but on the second day after our first WOD the soreness was in full bloom. My muscles were aching in places I didn’t even know existed. I haven’t felt that kind of soreness since I had first started running and as odd as it sounds, I wanted to keep at it. The only way I was going to get stronger was to keep going, just like in running.
Something that always confused me in the beginning were all the different types of movements. I mean, what the hell is a kipping pull-up or a clean and jerk? (get your mind out of the gutter people). Along with the different movements came different acronyms I had to learn too like AMRAP, EMOM, METCON, wtf??!? I felt like I was learning a different language. I would always ask for clarification because I had no idea. The great part about every class is that we always went over what each acronym meant and what each movement looked like in stages so we knew how to do it correctly. At first it’s a lot to learn, but over time if done correctly you can really throw some weights around. In the first couple of months into joining both Jessie and I felt like we were growing stronger. We didn’t see any crazy results like muscle definition or anything, but we knew we were gaining some muscle. We were slowly learning each movement and were able to add-on a few extra pounds to our barbells.
The more time we spent at the box, the closer we felt with the other athletes becoming more of a family. One thing that I absolutely love about going to crossfit is the people and the camaraderie. Everyone there is nice and always willing to cheer you on to get that last rep in. It didn’t matter if you could lift 155 pounds over your head or 35 pounds, you would still be surrounded by people who want you to succeed. I think that’s the part that’s missing from the description of crossfit to people who don’t join in. Some may say it’s a “cult” sport but I see it more as a family trying to grow stronger together and become healthier, more active athletes.
Since Jessie and I had started we’ve hit numerous personal bests and have also been able to compete in our first crossfit open last Saturday, with another one this upcoming Saturday. I was able to complete the workout to the prescribed weights listed while Jessie did the scaled down version, which is another option with lighter weights and different movements. We know that we’re not elite athletes, but it’s a great way to gauge where you’re at for your age, gender, region, and even worldwide. We’ve grown stronger and have been able to endure a lot more since we started. One of my favorite quotes from crossfit is “You will never know your limits until you push yourself to them.” This is something that I’ve learned to embrace because if I don’t push myself further, then I wouldn’t learn anything about myself and how far I can really go.