Get in Shape the Right Way

7 Lessons Learned From a Month of CrossFit

What to Expect Joining a CrossFit Box?

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So, last year I got the bug up my ass to finally get around joining a CrossFit Box.  Up to that point, I’ve been looking into CrossFit for probably a good six months or so and never pulled the trigger.  The moment that finally put me over the edge and jump into the CrossFit craze was that my local box, CrossFit Thrive was running a Groupon deal for $50 which included one month of unlimited classes.

At this point last year, I had changed jobs, sold my house, moved my family and I to a new city and unfortunately, hadn’t worked out in approximately 6-7 months!  I figured this was a good way to jump head first back into fitness and a fairly inexpensive way to see if CrossFit was something I wanted to fully commit to…

What is CrossFit?

According to CrossFit.com, CrossFit is:

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.

One potential drawback to CrossFit for the average person is the cost.  A typical CrossFit Box charges anywhere from $120 – $200 per month.

There are a few ways to look at this:

  1. Holy crap!  That is 5-7 times more expensive than your average globo gym…  I cannot afford it…
  2. Wait a second…  Let’s put it into perspective.  You get built in one-on-one personal training…
    1. The best part of a good CrossFit box is a quality training staff!  The staff works with each person to teach proper technique until you are able to do the exercise on your own, properly…
    2. They start out the newbies with pvc pipes, teaching the air squat, snatch, clean and jerk, front rack position, etc…
    3. If you went to an actual trainer, you could blow that $150 cost in a week of training sessions, so it really isn’t all that expensive when you put it into perspective…

7 Lessons Learned From a Month Trial of CrossFit

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1. The Intimidation Lesson

On my first trip into my CrossFit Box, I was very intimidated.  I really didn’t know what to expect…

I watched portions of the Reebok CrossFit Games on TV and expected everyone to look like those guys/girls.  Jacked dudes, overhead squatting 300 pounds, looking like they could start for a NFL team tomorrow…

Pulling up to the box, as many are, was located in an industrial park.  There was a small sign on the door and people waiting outside to get in.

This was my first thankful moment…  The people waiting outside were of all shapes, sizes, and genders.  This immediately put me at ease (although I hadn’t worked out for at least 6 months at the time…).  I realized that anyone can do CrossFit and I wasn’t out of place.  Yes, there were some very fit people in the class that mopped the floor with me, but there was also average Joe’s and Jane’s in the class.

2. The Community Lesson

The moment I walked into the box, I was greeted with enthusiasm.  It was almost like a small, tight knit, fitness family…

I showed up on a Tuesday, which is their “Beginner Baseline” day that all newbies have to go through to help introduce them to the type of workouts they will encounter along the way.

In a typical CrossFit workout, everyone begins at the same time and performs the same workout as the entire class.  I saw the baseline workout, despite not working out for the past few months, I thought I could easily knock out the workout!

Boy was I wrong…  It was a completely different type of workout than I typically ever did in the past!

The workout was a “MetCon” (metabolic conditioning) workout for time.  It included air squats, kettlebell swings, jumping pull ups, wall balls, and burpees… (I may be missing one or two exercises)  I want to say it was 3 rounds of each exercise and I finished in 16 min 40 secs…  Which was actually pretty terrible and I was towards the end of the pack!

I was extremely impressed by others in the box that came over to cheer me on towards the end when I was getting burnt out.

The community atmosphere is something you will never find at your typical globo gym and something that makes CrossFit so encouraging for newbies.

Another thing that really impressed me were the number of women of all ages throwing around barbells!  CrossFit has done a great job of getting people more excited about lifting barbells again and have stripped down the movements and scaled them for every level of athlete.

3. The Metabolic Conditioning Lesson

As I mentioned above, my first MetCon really kicked my ass!  I remembered coming home from the workout, laying on the floor, and telling my wife, “it was the hardest damn workout I have done!”  There wasn’t a workout where I didn’t feel completely spent afterwards.  (which can be good and bad)

If you typically go to the gym, do a body part split workout and finish up, you’re in for a ride!  Pairing strength training with metabolic conditioning makes for a killer one-two punch!  With that said, I believe that CrossFit is one of the best body recomp programs you can do.

If you’re looking to trade fat for muscle, CrossFit has both of those items covered!


4. The Addiction Lesson

After my first “baseline” workout, I already became addicted!  If you ask my wife, I get too addicted to hobbies too quickly and dive in head first without knowing how to swim!

I’ve always been a person that could pick things up quickly and get good at them when I wanted to, so naturally, I got home and started watching CrossFit videos on YouTube, subscribed to TechniqueWOD videos, and MobilityWOD videos!

I was addicted to getting better, faster, stronger, and more mobile!  I’ve never wanted to improve my hip, shoulder, thoracic mobility before beginning CrossFit…

Oh, and I was also addicted to buying the latest and greatest CrossFit gear!  Here’s a list of what I got…

  1. Reebok CrossFit Nano 4.0 Shoes (which I love!)
  2. Speed Cable Jump Rope (to master them double unders!)
  3. Rehband Knee Support (because, duh…  they help you with the SQUATZ!)
  4. Voodoo Floss (Trying for the knee rehab)
  5. Lacrosse Massage Balls (for those tight spots)
  6. Trigger Point Grid Foam Roller (for those bigger tight spots)
  7. Harbinger Wrist Wraps (because thrusters kill your wrists)

So as you can see, I jumped into CrossFit whole hog!

5. The Competitive Lesson

I’m a very competitive person.  I’ve played sports all my life and love the thrill of competition!  During CrossFit WODs it becomes a blurred line between training and competing which can become troublesome…

CrossFit does a great job of building community competition with something the call “The Whiteboard”.  CrossFit Thrive actually used a slick program, called Wodify to keep track of your stats.

Wodify is an online whiteboard where everyone records their latest workout statistics, from timing on a MetCon, to strength stats from their latest squat workout…  You can log in to Wodify and see your box’s participant stats and it also tracks your stats over time.

I quickly became addicted to seeing how my stats stacked up against others in the class!  This quickly reverted back to lesson number 4, the addiction lesson.  Watching more technique videos, working on my mobility, and trying to get better for the next daily WOD.

Being in a group environment, it also will drive a competitive person to get what I’d call, “Superman Syndrome”.  Which leads me into the next lesson…

6. The Over Confidence Lesson

Let me tell you a tale of over confidence, aka Superman Syndrome.

As I have mentioned, I love competition and end up getting very competitive.  If you are like me, it is easy to get a little over confident and end up pushing yourself a bit too hard.

About 3.5 weeks into my month trial of CrossFit, we had a WOD which included Squat Clean Thrusters.  I am pretty decent and strong doing cleans.  Pair my already confident self, with the competitive group atmosphere and I immediately went back to high school weight rooms where we would all stand around and try to out squat or bench the other person.

Well, I am starting out somewhat light in weight and things feel good.  My technique is decent and the weight feels fairly easy.  I look around and see other guys doing heavier weight than I am, so naturally I begin adding more weight.  I keep adding 10-20 lbs here and there until my last heavy set of squat clean thrusters where I feel a pop and strain in my knee.

Which leads me into the next lesson…

7. The Injury Lesson

That pop and strain in my knee lasted for about 2-3 weeks before I got to a point where I could fully squat without any discomfort.

In my opinion, the one major downfall to CrossFit I see is the combination of heavy weight training with metabolic conditioning.  When you are throwing a heavy barbell around after being greatly fatigued because you just completed a metabolic conditioning round, this can be a recipe for injury to a person that wants to really push themselves (like me).

It will take some balance and ego checking at the door of competitive people to go in with the mindset that you are TRAINING, not COMPETING on the whiteboard!


The Bottom Line

In the end, I still like the idea of CrossFit.  I definitely didn’t give my CrossFit experience enough time due to the injury.  To really do it justice, I think I needed to give it at least a three to four month trial…  There are a lot of positive things that CrossFit brings to barbell training, but also some negatives…

If I didn’t end up getting injured, I probably wouldn’t have stopped doing CrossFit.  Fortunately for me, not continuing with CrossFit has allowed me to focus on creating two very successful workout program launches here on Trip Fitness which I probably wouldn’t have done if I continued on.

You can CLICK HERE for the Muscle Gain Program and CLICK HERE for the Get Shredded Program.

Yes, CrossFit has it’s drawbacks, but even with the drawbacks in mind, I am thinking about re-joining a CrossFit box.  As I type this, I have a sticky note with the three CrossFit gyms (CrossFit Thrive, Three Kings CrossFit, and CrossFit Zionsville) that I am interested in joining stuck to my computer monitor.  I intend to go visit each box and will most likely join one of them in the summer now that I have been back into strength training for the better portion of a year.

Once you get past the soreness of the first handfull of workouts, leave your ego at the door, and remember that you are TRAINING and not COMPETING, I think the benefits can outweigh the drawbacks…

With that, if you are local to the Indianapolis, IN metro area and have any insight on good CrossFit box, I’d love it if you’d leave a comment below.  Even if you’re not local to Indy, I want to know your opinion on CrossFit versus conventional weight training.  Leave me a comment!

Until next time…

Stay fit, my friends!

 

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