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August 5, 2014

Why Do I CrossFit?

Since I started doing Crossfit (November 1, 2013), I have received questions about it. People have asked me what it is. People have asked me why I like it. People have wondered whether it is a good way to exercise and questioned the safety. People have told me they are intimidated to try. People have expressed an interest and sometimes turned away at the cost.

I have sent a couple of long messages and e-mails, but for the recent questions I have been asked, I decided to compose this blog post.
What is Crossfit?

Why Do I Love CrossFit?

For the best definition of Crossfit, I direct you to crossfit.com, where it is explained much better than I could ever do it justice. But for the most part, THIS:

CrossFit is many things. Primarily, it’s a fitness regimen developed by Coach Greg Glassman over several decades. He was the first person in history to define fitness in a meaningful, measurable way (increased work capacity across broad time and modal domains). CrossFit itself is defined as that which optimizes fitness (constantly varied functional movements performed at relatively high intensity). CrossFit is also the community that spontaneously arises when people do these workouts together. In fact, the communal aspect of CrossFit is a key component of why it’s so effective.
Before I got started, I learned that CrossFit was defined, at its most basic level, as “constantly varied functional movements performed at a relatively high intensity.” I had someone else say that CrossFit focused on High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). So, I direct you to the site because it has a LOT of information that was useful to me and could be useful to you if you are interested in CrossFit.

That is the only objective part of this post. The rest are the reasons why *I* CrossFit and love it.

Most people who ask me about CrossFit mention that it is all so intimidating. I will tell you -- I was intimidated, too. However, the coaches and other members that share a love of CrossFit also work hard to take the intimidation out of it. Often we human beings are capable of much more than we think that we are -- we need only get started and through our experience we begin to realize our capabilities.

You could apply this concept to anything :)
Found Here
It was intimidating to head into the CrossFit workouts at first. I was in the poorest shape of all the people there and I was in awe of these people I saw doing olympic lifts in the hundreds of pounds or squatting 200 pounds, or jumping up on boxes and making it look effortless. Here I was not able to snatch or overhead squat even a 35 pound barbell. During the first month or two, there was a workout that required 100 burpees to be completed and we had to pause every minute, on the minute, to do 5 pullups or something like that. I couldn't do pullups yet, so I was stacking three 45-pound plates on the floor and doing jumping pullups. (I still can't do unassisted pull-ups, but I'm getting stronger and continuing to work at it.)

**For those of you not familiar...a Burpee is kind of like a 2-year-old temper tantrum. the movement entails squatting to the floor, thrusting your legs back into a pushup position, doing a pushup and quickly swinging your legs back under you so you can jump into the air and clap your hands (or touch a target or something). I liken it to a small child throwing himself to the floor and getting back up only to throw himself down over and over again.

Okay, about that workout...I was the last one to finish. But, I finished it and I realized that I really could do 100 Burpees. I only needed to tackle one at a time, like I did everything else. The others who completed the workout ahead of me were gathered around cheering me on to finish. They helped me keep track of how many I had remaining and as I finished, they fist-bumped and high-fived me and told me how great it was.

Two great things happened that day: 1) I no longer felt intimidated by Burpees (or anything else!) Just tackle them one at a time in a good rhythm and eventually, you finish them; 2) I felt like I could continue to do CrossFit forever. I really appreciated the support I got from the other members and made a mental note that someday it will be me finishing the workout ahead of others and I must remember to encourage them in a similar way.

What are the workouts like? My experience is that there is a warm-up, then there could be some sort of gymnastics work (handstands or things like that) and usually some olympic lifting work. This could be (and usually is) followed by some strength training work. Finally, there is the WOD (workout of the day), which could be a timed AMRAP (a time is established in which we complete the exercises listed and get "As Many Rep/Rounds As Possible) or there could just be a list of things to do "for time." A lot of the times, the workouts are variations of cross-functional movements mixed in with some weight and there is usually a cardio component to it. Every day, you record your results on the whiteboard -- it's the accountability portion. There's something about writing down what you finished that provides a sense of accomplishment. It's interesting to see all the other results -- not necessarily to compare yourself to them, but just to see if someone had a great day and congratulate them.

All of the workouts have the Rx version and the Scaled versions are listed as well. For example, I am unable to do unassisted pullups yet, so if the Rx is sets of pull-ups, then I would "scale" that to banded pullups, or jumping pullups or ring rows. There are lots of ways to build strength and progress. I did ring rows for the first few months, then I started being able to do banded. I had a month or two between trying jumping pullups and was astonished when I only needed to stack two 45-pound plates to jump from and still get my chin up over the bar. It's been fun to finally be able to put "Rx" after my score once in awhile (though not on any WOD that includes pullups--yet!)...and even if I'm doing scaled, I can see my improvement on those as well.

There are also Benchmark WODs that go by name. They are usually named after Girls or Heroes. They are scheduled far enough apart that you should be able to check your progress. I had a goal to do at least one of these Rx and I hit that this summer, after working out consistently for eight months.

The main thing I can say about completing the WODs is that I am spent after every workout. I rarely, if ever, leave CrossFit feeling like I could have done more that day. I am sore every day, no matter how fit I become. And...I love that.

What about the Results? When I decided to try CrossFit, I was in need of something that would retain my attention and enthusiasm for regular exercise. Over the years I have taken up running and/or swimming at various times. I have done some group exercise classes, too. But I always needed to have a race in mind to keep my motivation for running and/or the annual corporate challenge swim meet to keep my motivation for swimming. Most group exercise classes didn't jive with my schedule either. But, keeping my focus and attention was the highest priority. Also, I HAD to see results quickly. Of course, I was coupling it with my weight loss efforts and my motivation to lose the extra weight I'd been carrying for many years was high. But the results that kept me going were things like lifting heavier weight, being able to do some of the movements without resorting to "scaled" and seeing an overall improvement in my fitness level.

The number one reason I continue to CrossFit and why I love it IS the results. I am stronger, faster and fitter today than I was yesterday. And I have been able to say that every day since I started CrossFit. Sure, I can look back at November 1, 2013 and compare it to today and see a woman now who is 32 pounds lighter, loads stronger, swims/runs faster than she ever had before and who can touch her toes to the bar, can do strict push-ups (man-style, even!!) and is getting closer to that unassisted pull-up. But the results didn't just magically appear 8 or 9 months down the road. I started seeing results the next day. I was sore, by golly, but I was stronger. I told myself that every day -- that I just want to improve myself today. Back when I started, I couldn't fathom what 8 or 9 months in the future would look like -- I didn't know that I'd finally be able to do a push-up in plank position all the way down and back up. All I knew that first day was I needed to do full-range/hand-release pushups so I could build my strength from today to tomorrow; And I needed to put one foot in front of the other and run; and I just needed to get up on the bar, get in position and lift -- and once I lifted that weight, put a little more weight on and try again. I surprise myself often with what I am able to do.

My quality of life has vastly improved with my fitness. A year ago, I was sad to turn Helen away because I told her she was just too big for me to pick up and hold anymore. But now I pick her up and carry her sometimes. We got this picture while on vacation --

I love feeling strong enough to mother my kids they way they want me to
-- I love being able to pick up my baby girl! Last January, I pickup Vincent up and had no idea the strength I had -- I almost flung him into the ceiling! I had exerted a lot of effort thinking I needed it to pick him up -- and with my new strength, I didn't need it at all. All summer, I have been getting in the pool with my kids, running around in the backyard playing with them and feel good doing it.

So, if you're interested in trying CrossFit -- look it up in your area and head in there to give it a try! You'll never know if you don't.

A Facebook friend and fellow blogger, Rebecca at Shoved to Them, posted a comment on one of my updates shortly after I started CrossFitting that has stuck with me:

"It is the very best feeling to be strong."

Yes, it is.


1 comment:

  1. I didn't realize that this had only been since November of last year that you started CrossFit. Way to go! It really is an amazing feeling to feel strong and fit, isn't it? :)


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