Monday, November 16, 2009

Intimidated by CrossFit? Don't be

CrossFit is now such a big part of my life and workout regimen that I often forget how fringe it really is. I'm of the opinion, of course, that it's the best way to get fit, and consequently I expect that most people will eventually catch on and join the party.

It's easy to forget, however, that CrossFit can seem incredibly intimidating to outsiders, especially to those who have never worked out. A quick glance at CrossFit videos on YouTube affirm the impression that this is pretty extreme stuff, an elite activity reserved for fitness nuts and X-Games athletes. There's no question that CrossFit has a particularly steep barrier to entry.

But I have a message to those who are nervous or scared about joining a CrossFit gym: don't be.

First, in my experience, CrossFit gyms are very warm and welcoming. Everyone is there to support each other regardless of experience or ability. Don't be freaked out or turned off by the 6'4" tattooed guy screaming in the corner as he throws down a 135 pound barbell to the floor; chances are good that he'll be there to cheer you on at the end of the WOD. This 'group support' element is an integral part of the CrossFit mentality and it is what keeps me going to the gym day after day. As the sign says, 'Check your ego at the door.'

Second, the physical demands, while certainly intense at times, are more manageable than you may think. All workouts are scaled according to the individual. If you're a beginner, elderly person or someone who's battling a particular injury, the certified trainer conducting the session will ensure that you're lifting, jumping and pulling amounts that are most appropriate for you. This ensures safety, proper form, and of course, that you'll able to complete the WOD and come back to fight another day.

Lastly, CrossFit works.

Take me, for example. When I first started CrossFit last year as a 38 year old I had never worked out in my life aside from some yoga and jogging. Doing things like push-ups, pull-ups and Olympic weight lifting were completely foreign to me.
In fact, I remember an early workout in which I deadlifted 125lbs and I nearly passed out from the strain and dizziness. Not to frighten you with this anecdote, but I stuck with it, and nearly a year later I was doing 325lb deadlifts. This shit works. There aren't too many WODs any more that I don't do fully prescribed -- this after a little more than a year of regular workouts.

Still don't think you can do CrossFit? Well, check out this video of an 11 year old girl doing the infamous Fight Gone Bad workout.

So, now what's your excuse?