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It’s been a month now since I started Crossfit, and I have really enjoyed it! Say what you will about crossfit, but I personally love it. The WOD’s (or Workout of the Day) are definitely challenging, and most days I just collapse to the ground and have to lay there for a few minutes when I’ve completed the workout. I love that feeling, and I was definitely looking for something to really challenge me. I feel exhausted after the workouts, but I also feel accomplished (I just did a lot of work!), and proud of myself for sticking through the workout. I love being challenged during a workout…which is funny since I grew up with the opposite attitude–I HATED physical activity, and during any sort of P.E. class I would always rather be walking.
Before crossfit, I was a member of Planet Fitness (which has no squat racks, only smith machines, and the heaviest barbells were 60lbs–they have no olympic barbells—or at least the one I went to doesn’t) and I would be there from 1 to 2 hours weight-training, mostly in the free-weights section and using some of the machines, and 15-20 minutes of cardio, either intervals on the elliptical or running/sprinting.
This was okay for a while, but I really wanted to be challenged (I kind of suck at challenging myself on my own in the gym), and I really wanted to be using real barbells.
Crossfit workouts are typically short. Usually it begins with a mobility session in which you are stretched out, and then a warm-up, and a strength portion to work on the movement and technique, and then the WOD, which seem to average around 10-15 minutes, but can be anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes. Before attending a crossfit class, I looked at some of the typical WOD’s, and to me it didn’t seem like a much. Stuff like:
Glancing at WOD’s like that made me think that it wouldn’t be too bad. I felt like I was doing much more in the gym… I mean these are only 15 minute workouts, and I workout for one and a half hours!
Boy was I wrong! The workouts may be shorter, but they are pretty high-intensity. After my very first WOD (which was only 6 minutes) I felt much more exhausted than I ever did after working out for an hour in the gym.
This first month of crossfit has been great. I have really enjoyed the workouts (even though I’m counting the seconds until it’s over sometimes!), and I have seen some good increases in strength for me. I can now deadlift 1.25x my bodyweight—this was huge for me when I hit this, since I had barely ever deadlifted even my own bodyweight before. I was excited when I was finally deadlifting more than my bodyweight!
It’s true that Crossfit may not be for everyone. It is a bit on the pricey side, and if you’re not a fan of hard physical work then it might be scary. But if you’re interested in trying it out, look up crossfit boxes in your area and call a few. A lot of boxes will have a free guest workout where you can try out a class and see what it’s like.
When looking for a box to commit to, make sure you like the coaching staff, and that they effectively teach you proper form. Every WOD can be scaled if needed, just ask the coach for a scaled workout if you don’t think you can do the prescribed WOD. Also, in crossfit you are usually trying to get the best time, or most rounds you can. It’s about pushing yourself, but don’t get too macho…leave your ego at the door and don’t try to do more than your body can handle. You’re not going to be able to lift that 200lb barbell immediately, it takes time to increase your strength. And you want to avoid getting rhabdo. Have your workout scaled if you need it!