Saturday, 19 November 2016

Thinking of trying Crossfit?

I have been doing Crossfit about a year now, I get a lot of interest in real life about why I started it and what it is.

It's often seen as an extreme or hard option, or something that only super fit people do. As with a lot of things though it's not as scary as you think!

I always share the free taster sessions on my Facebook page and get comments like 'Oh no I could never do that' or 'I'm not fit enough' or 'that's too hard'.

Here's why you should give it a chance though guys:

'I don't even know what half of it is! Let alone know how to do it!'
This was me after looking up the first WOD (workout of the day) I went to before I left home (It involved squat cleans and I had never touched a barbell), I googled what I didn't know and was a bit apprehensive when I saw the results. Just ask the coach, they won't just say "right today we are doing this" and leave you to get on with it. If you are unsure or struggling or have never heard of what you are meant to be doing then just say. I think at most of my classes for at least 2 months or even more I hadn't done at least one of the things included in the workout before. I think the thing about cross fit is that it takes away the need to plan your own workouts to some extent, you turn up and the work is on the board. If you don't know how to do something or need help then you ask and you learn. If your coaches are the same as at the box (gym) I go to they will know you are new and give you some extra help anyway.
The woman who had never picked up a barbell until a year ago getting a new 1RM in a competition. Photo credit CM Photography
Everything is scaleable
The reasons a lot of my friends give as to why they can't try Crossfit is that they can't do a lot of the things on the session, well neither can I, or a lot of people who have been going longer! Everything is scaled to your ability, so if the workout asks for you to do something you can't do because it is a skill you don't have yet like double unders, or the weight is too heavy, or you have an injury or are just not fit enough yet? Then do any skipping you can, or a lighter weight, or run a shorter distance. Or just talk with the coach about what you can do. I can count on one hand (maybe 2 hands, I honestly can't remember how many) the amount of workouts I have done to Rx (as it is written on the board with no scaling) and I have been going on average 3-4 times a week for a year.

I've heard it can be dangerous
Scaling also ties in with what some people (In my experience people who have not actually ever done a WOD) say about the workouts being dangerous, they could be if you turned up on your second week and tried to do the Rx workout. Be sensible and realistic about your ability and don't try to be a hero. The coaches I have met would never let anyone do this anyway and they will make sure everyone knows what they are going to do in the WOD beforehand and that it is suitable for their abilities. With any form of exercise there is a risk you might get injured or have an accident but in my experience I am not any more likely to hurt myself at Crossfit than I am out running (I regularly trip over running at night!) or at another type of gym. The workouts and the atmosphere do push you to do more, but I have never felt like I couldn't say "actually no, I really can't do that" and I have had times where coaches have helped me to change to lighter wights mid WOD, or said to me to scale to less burpees during a long WOD where it became apparent that I was not going to finish it if I stubbornly kept trying to do the 5 burpees involved every minute.

You will progress.
Nobody will be mean or judge you for not being able to do things right away, and you will look back in a few months and not be able to get over what you can do now. I had literally never picked up a barbell before starting Crossfit. I had been doing some assisted pull ups because of climbing, but was nowhere near being able to do one unassisted. I couldn't do push ups, handstands, double unders (still can't) and many more things I can now do or I can do a scaled version of. However, I am progressing (faster at some things than others) and getting better. I was a bit embarrassed at the start about how many bands I needed for pull ups, or that I had no idea how to clean or snatch (still struggle with that one tbh!). A lot of it is things you have probably never tried before, especially women in some ways. In PE we did netball and hockey, nobody will have taught you to climb a rope or do olympic lifts unless you sought that out. Just turn up, do the best you can do, learn good form and build strength, and you can't go wrong!

This is me, still not doing double unders. Photo credit CM Photography
Everyone looks so fit I feel so out of shape
Someone I persuaded to a taster session said this to me. Yes a lot of people there are in good shape, they are the people who have probably been going for ages. You will also get people who are not in such good shape, or who have just joined too. It's not just for people who are already super fit, you will soon get sucked into worrying more about what your own progress is than whether you have a bit more tummy fat than others. Also if you stick with it you could look like some of them in a couple of years!

The attitude is so different and refreshing
For me the focus being on what you can do rather than how you look is such a relief. I personally am not motivated by a trainer telling me a certain exercise it good for my muffin top, I'm more motivated by an actual challenge. You are more focused on learning all the new things in the first month or so you don't even notice the weight coming off, and once you do you notice you are more concerned about getting better than getting slimmer. The atmosphere is also so different to other gyms, there is a social and friendly vibe which comes from all doing the same WOD. Whether it's the second or millionth time you've been you all do the same, and while some scale and some don't everyone supports each other. I have made friends through Crossfit and there are socials and competitions regularly, it's actually more than just a gym in a lot of ways.
High fives after we finish the workout! Photo credit CM Photography
I always urge anyone to try it out, the taster sessions are always friendly and not scary at all. I really wish I had started sooner!

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