I’ve been CrossFitting only a few months and already I am what you might call a FanGirl of the sport. Here are the top ten reasons why:
- Real Training for Real Life. All the movements done in Crossfit are functional and transfer to real life: squats, lifts, push ups, pull ups, lunges, running, jumping, overhead movements, etc. They’re much harder than isolation exercises because they mimic real movements that life demands. CrossFit is basically training for a full and active life. So for example when you have to raise a huge wooden beam over your head while building a deck, you’re good to go. Or when you’re out hiking a 14-er and happen across some folks in dire trouble you have plenty in the tank to help them out, without too much additional strain.
- Scalability. Workouts are scaled up or down from what is prescribed, depending on fitness level and ability. CrossFit is challenging if you’re a beginner and it’s challenging if you’re a seasoned athlete. Since I’m not yet a seasoned athlete I’m taking others’ word for it, and I see that it’s true. I watch people who have been doing CrossFit for years and though they have mastery over their form, they are still busting their tail. I have a lot of confidence that this will NOT get boring!
- Variety. Save for the named benchmarks we do every now and again, every workout has a slightly different focus and requires a different set of skills and strategy. Kind of like life. Huh.
- No Mirrors in the Gym. Hey, I’m not gonna lie – generally I like mirrors a lot, but while training I find them horribly distracting. The inward focus required to perform well and keep moving when the workout gets tough is crucial. Plus, while CrossFit athletes look incredible, vanity seems antithetical to the overall culture. Nah, mirrors don’t belong there. Just lots of good solid stuff to jump on, climb on, lift, throw and flip. Plus some gritty dusty chalk. And it’s not like I need a mirror to check my form since I have a Coach for that. Which brings me to…
- Personalized Coaching. Our coaches have trained lots of successful athletes in their careers, so in my opinion they’re often in a better position than I am to determine what I’m capable of, and they know how to push me to get there, without pushing too much or burning me out. When I’m satisfied with 200# for a deadlift pr attempt they may tell me I can do 210# easy. Sure enough, they’re right. What an incredible motivator. They train me in a way so my old injuries are slowly healing (yay shoulder!) and there is always a watchful eye for form, so I know I’m minimizing any chance of creating new injuries.
- Intensity and Brevity. Our warm-ups are harder than most organized exercise classes I’ve ever taken. Truth. The WODs might look simple, and most of them are short, but they’re brutal, and a crap-ton more effective than hours on a treadmill, on a trail, or bike or anything else I’ve ever tried.
- Competition. With myself, with others, with the clock. Having lived in the kumba-ya-ya capital of the universe for the past decade I didn’t realize how much I missed the simple sense of urgency and focus brought about by having something or someone to beat. Maybe that something is my previous PR, or that someone is running up behind me and I don’t want them to catch me. Or maybe it’s that I REALLY want to finish my round before the timer goes off. Whatever it is, it makes me strive to go a little harder, do a little better than I did before.
- Support. In spite of said competition, the outpouring of support in each workout is truly remarkable. People take genuine interest in your progress and share tips on how to make things work better. Everyone’s in it together and cheers each other on. It builds a lot of…
- Community. I don’t feel like I’ve joined a gym as much as I’ve joined a community. When I was in the Army, the folks I went to basic with, or language school with, or jump school with, we all had a special bond because we had seen each other through some challenging tasks. So maybe it’s something similar. Whatever it is, I really like all the folks I’ve met so far. Just good, solid people from all different walks of life who share a penchant for intense physical activity and…
- Paleo. Almost everyone at the gym eats paleo and it’s nice to be around people who just get me with the eating. My husband gets me and is paleo too but most of my friends, not so much, even though they’re unfailingly polite. They’re just not interested. Which is cool, but still… My first day there, I asked our coach if he had any special tips for dealing with muscle soreness, like a recovery drink or something. He told me he preferred red meat, or some sort of saturated fat. Amy, a new friend I sometimes work out with suggested I try coconut juice. I thought, “Wow…I’m home!” They have paleo eating challenges, they ran a paleo eating scientific study last year, and lots of folks share recipes, ideas and food. Other gyms might have fruity smoothie bars but our gym has a grill for Pete’s sake. I mean, how cool is that?
So these are only my top ten. I have more, but I want to hear what you think!