What the hail is CrossFit?

This post is solely based on my personal opinion, and I’m no pro at CrossFit, as I’ve only been going for six months. But I thought I’d put together a What Is, and FAQ post for you guys since a lot of you seem interested!

In February when I started CrossFit I felt nervous before every workout. I think it was because I was afraid of not knowing what weight to use, how much to do, how much I could handle. For a really long time. Like 11 weeks. Only recently I stopped getting nervous. I mean, nobody is competitive at our local CrossFit with one another — they literally cheer you on. So it’s just self-competitiveness inside me, which is sometimes a good thing. It’s a nicely tight knit community who are very welcoming to newcomers! So don’t be afraid to try it!

Tip 1: Don’t be embarrassed to go.
I see all sorts of shapes and sizes of men and women. For real, I’m not just saying that to be nice. There are some pretty big people that go to CrossFit and major kudos to them.

You don’t have to be great to start,
but you have to start to be great.

Zig Ziglar

Tip 2: You don’t have to be fit, muscular or strong to do CrossFit. When I started I wasn’t even playing soccer or doing any physical activity for about 7 months. All I carried were bags of groceries from my car to the apartment door. I was weak. The coaches will work with what you have, and what you want to give to get out of CrossFit. They’ll start you off with light weights, or maybe with no weights at all! They’ll walk and talk you through each movement and make sure you have it down pat before moving onto another.

When I first went to my classes they ended up doing “scaled versions” of the workouts for beginners like myself. Because we didn’t know how to properly lift the weights. Your Crossfit may do that as well. The first 3 beginner classes were rough on me. I think they do that just to see what you’re made of. I’ve never been in so much pain. My elbows swelled up. Apparently that was odd, and they’ve never seen that happen, lol. From time to time a lot of regular-CrossFitters still do scaled workouts. For instance, I cannot do rope climbs because my upper body strength isn’t all there yet. I still cannot do a strict pullup from the ground.

Tip 3: Do not compare yourself to anyone else. My two female friends who got me to join CrossFit are about the same height, weight, and size as me and we’re completely different with regards to physical ability. One girl is really good with overhead squats and can lift an impressive amount more than I can. Another one of my friends is much better at pumping out situps at an incredible speed, and is quicker with running. I personally think I’m great at kipping pullups. Everyone’s different.

Why CrossFit?
CrossFit has kept my interest because it’s forever changing and confusing your muscles. You can go months without doing the same workout. I still get sore after certain workouts. I’ve never sweated so much in my life, and I was completely serious when I said to my fellow workout buddies that my eyelids were sweating. I’m soaked with sweat after certain workouts, and when I work out on hot summer days, my skin glistens with sweat. I am so serious. It’s insane. The back of my hands are dripping! Too much informaiton to start you off with? I apologize.

Going to a gym and working on the machines and not knowing if I’m doing them properly bored and bugged me. I didn’t like going to fitness classes at the gym and not having the routine changed up for months. It had me plateauing and not moving forward. CrossFit is shorter sometimes high intensity workouts. We don’t do bicep curls, we do pull ups. We don’t do leg extensions at CrossFit, we do tons of squats. Workouts are only between 15 and 30 minutes at CrossFit. Movements at a high intensity or anaerobic is found to be more effective. CrossFit gets a lot of heat about it being very intense and hard on the body. Of course, that’s all if you want to push yourself to the limit each time.

CrossFit classes are often small classes. I think the most our local CrossFit gym can handle is 14 people at a time. Before each class starts, the coaches go through each and every movement to refresh your mind on how to do the movements. The Coaches have small classes so they can keep an eye out on each body working out so you do everything properly without injury. If the weight is too light, or too heavy — they will let you know.

CrossFit usually is a garage type of setup, in a small gym or literally on your own in your basement or garage. My local CrossFit just moved into a bigger building with 25 foot ceilings so we could have a 20 foot rope climb! Cool huh?

FAQ’s:

Q1: Do people wear gloves?
A1: A few girls at my local CrossFit wear gloves when they’re doing pullups so they don’t tear their hands from the callouses they’ve built up over time. I personally think they get in the way just like they do when rock climbing. I just use chalk on my hands and tape them if they’re starting to get sore. In six months I’ve ripped once, which was at the beginning. Now I take care of my callouses, and sand/cut them down so they don’t get big and end up ripping.

Q2: Have you noticed a change in my body?
A2: You see changes in your strength each time you do the same exercise.Think of your muscles as a team. You’re not going to always be doing the same movement every day. You build up your muscles all individually with each session you go to. Your overhead squats are still working your arms so the next time you go and do a handstand, or a pushup, or pullup you’re going to feel stronger than the last time you did that. For instance, I didn’t do pullups for like a week but did other arm stuff. I moved up an elastic because I was stronger! So it varies.

As for changes in my body, I don’t eat as healthy as a lot of people. I love candy, pasta, potatoes, soda pop and rice. While I do see my legs (thighs) are very hard now, my stomach is still my trouble area. I don’t need to lose weight. My pants don’t fit any better, but my body is tighter. I don’t have a “muffin top” anymore. I’m now harder around my obliques. When I flex, you can now see biceps.  I have gotten a lot stronger. For instance, say I haven’t done a “thruster” in 4 weeks. The next time I lift my max weight in a thruster, it seems easy. Like stupidly easy, and then I’m like — wow, how did I get this strong? Must go up in weight now! It’s never boring!

Q3: What if I can’t use the recommended weight?
A3: Most of the time I can’t use the recommended weight, seriously! You just use a weight that’s manageable to you, or use a percentage of the weight prescribed. The regular workouts are called “prescribed” and even though they put on the board as an example: Deadlift (200/100) that means men lift 200lbs, and women lift 100lbs. That’s only if you can “handle it” if not, you lift what you are capable of. Nobody made fun of me ever. Even the sign on our local CrossFit door says “Leave your ego here”. :)

Q4: Is CrossFit mostly male dominated?
A4: At my local CrossFit, not really. Sure there are times where there are 6 guys and just 2 girls. But most times it’s pretty even. I know people get confused since I use mostly male stock images of CrossFitters found on Google Images, Thrustr, and Pinterest. Also I don’t have any photos of me doing the workouts at CrossFit and feel weird to ask anyone to take photos of me! My local “box” as they call the CrossFit, from what I understand, used to take random photos of people during their workouts. But for some reason a month or two before I started, they stopped.

Q5: Will I/can I get big doing CrossFit?
A5: The real question is, do you want to? Gaining or losing weight is based on the quality of your diet, training and also genetics also determine whether or not that gain/loss is muscle or fat. As a female, going to CrossFit like I’m doing now (between 2-4x per week), you will not get big. On the other hand. If you do your WODs hard and eat lots (more than the maintenance calorie intake) and get lots of sleep you will lose fat and build muscle mass. Obviously. It’s common sense.

Q6: Can you show us before/after photos?
A6: Unfortunately I was displeased with my body when I started in February because I did not like the way my body looked. I had a muffin-top, it was the cold dead of winter and general wasn’t happy with the way I looked. So I cannot show you before and after photos. What I can show you is some photos of me from the beginning and now, 6 months later. I doubt you can tell from the photos that I look trimmer, or more fit. But I what I can tell you is that my stomach, arms, legs, everything is harder and more toned. I had taken some workout outfit photos back in February, and then randomly took some recently, but in photos you can’t tell a difference there. Probably becaues as I mention in this post my clothes fit the same, just a bit better!

Q7: Do men and women do the same workout?
A7: Typically everyone does the same workout. They either use different weight or do a scaled version if you cannot do certain things. If you are injured or feel as if you cannot do a certain thing, your coach will guide you through another workout and you’ll do something different. There are a few injured people at my CrossFit so instead of running, they row on the machine.

Q8: I’m not great with cardio/running, is that ok?
A8: Well that’s fine. You’ll learn. Simple as that. I hate wall balls, and I am the slowest at it. I cannot stand them. I swear out loud when I’m doing them. CrossFit incorporates tons of cardio, strength training, and conditioning. Here are my archived workouts to check out what some of them look like. Usually you do a warm up (is basically a 10-30 minute work out which is often the same difficulty as your workout if not more). I don’t post those because I don’t remember what we do.. it’s a lot of different stuff. Yesterday for example we started out with 2 laps around the building (400m run), and then came in and didn’t do stretches this time, but did a lot of ab work. Three rounds of: sitting down and rotating side to side with a medicine ball 20 times. 10 v-situps, and then 1 minute plank hold. Three times!

Q9: What if I can’t do pullups (or any other workout)?
A9: Everything you do at CrossFit will strengthen your muscles for another workout. If you cannot do pullups they set you up on a large box and you jump and pull at the same time to mimic the movemnts of a pullup. Or, if you’re ahead of that you simply use an elastic which ends up taking a few pounds off for you to pull up. Each colored elastic helps with so many pounds. For instance, I started off on the purple elastic and I felt as if I was floating and super strong! I started off doing maybe 2 or 3 pushups on my knees and now 6 months later I can pump out 15 regular pushups, as in not on my knees!

(source)

Obviously you will not be able to do this right away unless you have a background in gymnastics. You start off with baby steps. For this technique shown above, it’ll probably take me another year or two to accomplish. Ease your way into it by kneeling on the ground with a bar and lift your legs up so you’re kind of in the fetal position and eventually try and extend your legs out. It all takes time!

(source)

Q10: How expensive is it?
A10:  Brandon makes a good point. He basically goes and says that it’s expensive (to eat healthy) and go to CrossFit. But women spend hundreds of dollars on haircuts, designer bags and mani/pedi’s. Men blow it all on booze and partying. I don’t spend what I don’t have. I don’t buy unless I have the money in my bank to pay for it. CrossFit costs me $116 each month. I think it’s well worth the money.

The saying goes at CrossFit:  There is no such thing as “firming and toning.”  There is only stronger and weaker. Well I agree with that partially, but at the same time I am TOTALLY firming up and I flipping love it.

So that’s basically it! I know it was long, but I think it really needed to be, for everything I wanted to talk about. I really do hope that this post has helped you somewhat with the questions you’ve had. Try it out! Usually the first couple of classes at CrossFit are offered for free. Start learning more about CrossFit at CrossFit’s official website. Here’s a good article about someone’s first experience with CrossFit here. I wrote about my first experience at CrossFit in February.

You can do this.

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5 Comments

  1. cheers mate, got the link from twitter @smiffycraig im startng crossfit this thirsday at liverpool UK
    Nancy says: Have fun with it on Thursday. I hope you like it!! :)

  2. I’ve been waiting for this post! :) This totally cleared up so much about Crossfit & I’ll have to show the husband because he’s interested in it. THANKS!!!!

  3. I am really nervous about starting crossfit, because I’m not in shape like I used to be. And I’ve never been able to do a pull up. Your post helped to calm some of the nerves, thanks!

    Nancy says: I’m glad my post helped you. My secondary (fingers, tendons) muscles are stronger than my primary (biceps) muscles. So it’s frustrating for me to not be able to do a correct pull up, when I used to be able to do them on door frames when I climbed. But with CrossFit, as I said in my post – strength comes quickly and you often surprise yourself (myself) at how strong you become in such a short period.

  4. Great post. I workout/run/swim/bike constantly, but haven’t done much of crossfit. I was introduced to the Filthy Fifties on Sunday, and man were they filthy! I could do it, but I was dead beat. My friend who really introduced me to it was a military wife (now her husband is a police officer) but the military used to run their crossfit gym. Now that she has moved to where we are now, she is really putting crossfit out there. And its alot of fun, and its nice to cange things up once in awhile! :)

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