I did it. I took the plunge. The CrossFit plunge, that is. Overall, I liked it and am super tempted to join, although I have a few reservations:
a. My shoulder bones hurt a lot during front squats and even more during the days after, as in, if someone touched my shoulder to get my attention, I’d automatically yell “ow.” (It’s okay, you can call me a wuss.) However, upon reading up online, I see now that I should have had the barbell lower on my shoulders, almost on the top of my biceps, so I’ll give that a shot next time.
b. The length of a class is very short. I estimate that we were actively working for about 25 minutes, including the warm-up, the strength segment, and the WOD (Workout of The Day), which was 15 minutes. Of course, CrossFit can be much more difficult than an average workout, but I still am a bit concerned that I will end up gaining fat, as I rely so heavily on working out to balance my PointsPlus® intake. Weight Watchers has been very successful for me for years, so the thought of throwing in that towel, and that balance, is not something I would do without some evidence that the alternative program (like Paleo, etc.) would work for me, which I seriously doubt. I rely on PointsPlus®, as I’m not great at a.) realizing when I’m full and b.) stopping once I do realize.
c. Sort of an extension of point B, results among the patrons seem to be mixed. I noticed that none of the women were what I’d call ‘in shape.’ They reminded me of a lot of rugby forwards: strong, but with no shortage of fat either. This of course could be attributed to a host of reasons like they just started CrossFit, poor diet, not hitting the CrossFit box (gym) enough per week, etc. However, most of the women in my husband’s class were in shape, he said, as were half the men in my class. I admit I was quite surprised to see these older men with chiseled abs.
d. Then, there’s the reason I have a hard time envisioning canceling my YMCA membership and making a permanent switch to my local CrossFit box, which is actually much cheaper than most (or even all) in my area (Boston): you guessed it, cost. I hear this as a common reason why many people still patron more traditional gyms.
What I loved about CrossFit:
a. You get to determine how hard you work with friendly encouragement from your coach. (Knowing how short the workout is, next time I’ll push harder while I’m there. I was “saving myself” a bit for the next round, but in actuality, there was no next round.)
b. The box I sampled seemed to have a strong community feel, which was great. They were also very welcoming and friendly. I get the sense that many CrossFit boxes are like this, as some of my family members do CrossFit in Maine and their stories align with mine.
c. The coach was great in constantly checking my form and helping me to be spot-on so as to get the most out of each rep and avoid injury. He delivered feedback in a very constructive way.
d. The coach was very articulate in explaining how to achieve the proper form on various positions.
e. I liked the music, a huge factor in my book. This gym played a lot of old school rap (we’re talking early 2000’s) and some newer rap.
f. I liked the competitive nature. You can compete with just yourself or you can actively or passively compete with your CrossFit classmates. Either way, I’m a pretty big believer in competition improving results. (However, note that not everyone, especially coaches, encourage competition—a ‘check your ego at the door’ policy is always favored, even if you are competing, but once you have CrossFit friends, I’ve definitely heard a lot of friendly competition conversation.)
Two other quick notes:
a. A CrossFit gym is quite loud. On top of the music, it’s standard procedure to drop your (heavily loaded) barbell from a substantial height. As everyone drops their barbell at a different time, this leads to a lot of noise. At first I thought this would be a huge “con” for me, but surprisingly, the thuds just sort of faded into the background and I didn’t even notice them—maybe you get so focused on what you’re doing.
b. Another perk of CrossFit, especially for us office workers, is that you work on mobility. For example, we stretched our shoulders and wrists considerably, which many of us often neglect. If you decide to try CrossFit, you’ll likely notice in your early days that completing various CrossFit movements is surprisingly challenging, especially for your mouse-clutching wrists. Like all things, this should improve with time.
So, if you’re considering trying CrossFit, I strongly recommend it. I purchased a voucher through Living Social, but I’m sure Amazon Local and Groupon also frequently have discounted offers. Or, if you Google CrossFit plus your zip code and visit your closest CrossFit box’s website, you’ll frequently see information about an introductory weeklong free trial. If not, give them a call and inquire about free or discounted trials. Many CrossFit boxes are trying to increase their membership and will meet your financial needs to get you in the door—‘cause you’ll probably get hooked and find a way to afford the full membership when the trial/discount ends.
Finally, I’ll put this out there in case any gym owners/managers happen across this entry: I wish one could incorporate CrossFit into their current gym routine instead of having to choose one or the other. If CrossFit were at the YMCA, that would be my fitness dream come true. I don’t want to give up Zumba, Tabata, the elliptical, free weights, etc., but I do enjoy CrossFit. I’m just not comfortable only doing CrossFit yet. 15-minute workouts make me a little nervous, regardless of intensity. (Yes, some subsequent CrossFit sessions proved to be only 15 minutes of actual working out!)