The OM Bottom Line: I promised myself when I started this blog that I wouldn’t get too focused on the fitness side of things. As important as fitness is to me and my family I know that it isn’t for everyone and not everyone who is into fitness is in it to the same degree. That being said I feel like I need to jump on my 20 inch “Box” for just a second to let you all know where I am coming from when I talk about CrossFit and why it is so important to me and my way of finding balance.
CrossFit is my “more”.
My Fitness Fails
I considered myself an athlete all through college and fairly fit even after I graduated, since the military required me to maintain a certain level of fitness. After leaving the military however, for medical reasons, I didn’t really have a reason to stay fit. Yes, of course I had my own personal well-being and health to motivate me but if that were enough, we would be a nation of fit and healthy individuals. Instead, we all struggle to find what fits: what fits our schedule, our budget, our personality. For me, I would try to start a running routine and get so discouraged when I couldn’t make it a mile without walking. I would join a gym just to end up spending an hour or two aimless wandering between machines after using the Elliptical for 30 minutes or so. I tried hiring a trainer at one of the gyms and he got me on a program, but then went on vacation. Then when he got back he passed me off to a newer trainer that always forgot my name. Needless to say I did not stay long.
Fast forward a few years and there I was 36 years old, with a two-year old daughter whose energy never waned and demanded I constantly be on the move. I knew I needed to find a way to keep up with her. I wasn’t looking to be that athlete I once was, I was looking to be healthy and strong for my daughter, so I could do everything I wanted to do with her. What I was looking for was “functional fitness”. And that’s all CrossFit is. If you go to the CrossFit.com website, it will tell you that all the “workouts are based on functional movements… These are the core movements of life.” For me, that’s what I wanted, to live life the way I wanted to and to do that I needed to be stronger and healthier.
My Introduction to CrossFit
When a CrossFit gym (or Box as they call them) opened up down the street from my house I knew I had to try it out. They offered a Beginner class that was about a week where they taught me all the movements and lifts I would need to know before jumping in with both feet into a regular class. This helped with the intimidation factor and it was fun to watch the scheduled class workout as well even though I was doing different exercises. But then I would watch them and think, “I’m gonna need more than a week before I’m ready to jump in to that!” But then I looked closer. Everyone was lifting different amounts of weights. Some were scaling their movements because of mobility issues. But they were all moving and sweating and getting a great workout. In fact at the end, they all looked equally exhausted and proud of what they accomplished whether they did the workout as prescribed or not. So, instead of filling my head with dread during that first week, I was excited and motivated to push even harder to finally get alongside them and see what I could do.
The first week was free so I went… every day… I went. I was so sore after the first day. I mean “can’t tie my shoelaces” sore. We had only done a quick run, some modified pushups, some air squats and ring rows; all bodyweight exercises where literally nothing was keeping me from doing it except for me! The next day, we learned new movements with the barbell and so on. Here is what I noticed after the first week of classes.
- Yes I was sore every morning, but then I got back there and moved again, this time using different muscle groups and I felt great.
- After one week, I already felt stronger. Carrying the groceries in from the car seemed easier, I could wrestle with my daughter a little longer.
- I couldn’t wait to go back. Not just for the workout but the people. The people who worked out at the 8:30 class with me were incredible. Many were women and although they hadn’t been doing Crossfit much longer than me and they seemed so strong and capable. It was incredible to watch them and to basically promise myself if I stick with it I could be where they are.
- I’m an extremely competitive person. But instead of comparing myself to others, the culture more so provides a place where you can watch everyone grow at their own pace and the only competition is between you today and yourself yesterday.
Me and CrossFit Today
It has been a year now. I have competed in two Crossfit Competitions and have one coming up again this month. I compete not to be better than anyone else but to prove to myself I can, push myself just that much harder. Yes, I still wake up sore and I’ve had my handful of injuries. But now I am fitter than I ever was. That athlete I said I wasn’t looking to become again? I could kick her collegiate soccer playing, military trained ass. I have abs, I mean not a six-pack but I have clearly defined abs.
CrossFit is no longer a fitness regime or program for me, it is a lifestyle. It is part of my day like brushing my teeth and putting on clothes. Some people call it an obsession. I guess if you call doing what you love, with people who you love everyday an obsession, then I am obsessed. I am obsessed with the feeling I get from being around like-minded individuals (moms, dads, veterans). I’m obsessed with the gains and improvements I see in the people next to me everyday: people of every shape and size walking in wide-eyed on their first day, not being able to run 200 meters and then in 3 months I am running beside them for a whole mile. I am obsessed with feeling good physically and mentally. Okay, so yeah, I am obsessed.
So here is my elevator pitch for Crossfit:
You may spend twice** as much as you would at a regular gym but you get the following:
- Committed coaches that are basically personal trainers. They help you with your form, push you to go heavier when they know you are strong enough but quick to pull off weights if they think you aren’t ready. Good Crossfit coaches will be there everyday to motivate and push you.
- Amazing people who will become some of your closest friends. They will become your biggest cheerleaders and you theirs. You will push each other harder than you could ever push yourself.
- More and more boxes are becoming family friendly, with childcare areas and designated sitters. Having kids should be your primary reason to be healthy and fit, not an excuse why you are not.
- If you commit, you will see results faster than any another workout program.
- More time to do what you need to do!! With CrossFit, you don’t waste time. You will be in and out in an hour including warmup, WOD (Workout of the Day) and cool down.
- As you improve with CrossFit you will find other athletic activities come easier and may become more attainable.
Having kids should be your primary reason to be healthy and fit, not an excuse why you are not.
Are you convinced? Curious? Still hesitant? It’s okay. It’s not for everyone. But if you decide to give it a try here are my recommendations:
- Most of these gyms have a week or two-week long “On-ramp” class for beginners. If you find a gym that doesn’t have a supported and well-executed on-ramp program, walk out the door. You want to find a place that cares about form over weight and speed.
- If you are intimidated by large classes find a box that is a little smaller. Talk to the owners. Some classes tend to have more women in them depending on the time of day. If the box has childcare you may be limited to certain times of the day but you will know you are there working out with other parents in the same position as you.
- The only cure for soreness is to go back the next day. I promise.
- If you are still on the fence, there are many other facilities out there that do HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training). Gyms like Delta Life Fitness are across the US and give programming similar but with less focus on heavy lifting and are women-only.
**Depending on where you live an average gym membership can cost you anywhere from $40-150 dollars a month. For that you get access to the equipment and facilities and maybe access to a personal trainer but for an additional fee. To hire a personal trainer you are looking at another $50-100/ month. An average CrossFit gym on the other hand averages about $125/month.
photo credits: Jessica Skinner www.peanutgalleryphoto.com
Another $.02 From The Overeducated Mother
When I hurt my back last October, I couldn’t lift as heavy during my rehab, so I started running. I hate running. But I hated running because I was always so discouraged by my lack of endurance. But the first time I went to run after doing 10 months of CrossFit, I ran a 5k (the farthest I had run in 5 years) in less than 27 minutes. Since then I have run one Half-Marathon and soon will run my second.