Focus On: CrossFit

Hi friends! How are you? Hope you’re having a happy humpday :)

For this week’s “Focus On”, I chose a workout that I’m actually very intimidated by: CrossFit. I’ll try ANY workout, and CrossFit is the one I’ve stayed away from for whatever reason. I know that it’s extremely intense and athletic, and have so many friends that swear by it, but I’ve never given it a try. So, I enlisted the help of dedicated CrossFitter Jenna, of the Paleo Project to help me with this post, since she is a CF pro.. and I am far from it ;)

Here’s what she had to say:

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Before I get into what to expect, I’ll explain a typical CrossFit workout. Everyone works out together, in the same room, at the same time. Some finish fast, some take a bit longer. CrossFit workouts are suitable for children, teens, adults, elders, women, men, the thin, the overweight and the in between. It is for athletes, and those who have never worked out a day in their life. It is adaptable for any and all walks of life because it is altered depending on the degree of effort you can put into it.

For example, each WOD (work out of the day) consists of a warm-up, an adaptable work out and a stretch. They can last anywhere from 12 minutes to an hour. Sometimes the WOD will be to warm-up, run a 5k, stretch and go home. Sometimes, the WOD will be a warm-up, and then a set of deadlifts, as many as you can do in a minute, rest for 20 seconds, repeat for 20 minutes. Although everyone will be at a different level of expertise, everyone will finish in 20 minutes and everyone will be maximizing their own effort. Then, you have your timed workouts: 3 Rounds for Time: 10 pullups, 20 squats, 30 pushups, 40 wallballs. When you’ve completed your 3 rounds, at your own speed, you’re done. You stretch, you go home. Everyday is different, challenging, rewarding and a true testament to what your body is capable of. Now, what to expect?

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Honestly, expect to feel a little intimidated at first.

CrossFit gyms, often referred to as “the box” as in, “see you in the box this afternoon”, are usually established in just that. Big, wide open, high ceilinged warehouses, garages, old recreational halls, or parks are the best and most common setting for a successful CrossFit. This is because a spacious, no frills environment is the best places to perform one of the nontraditional, functional, whole body workouts that CrossFit has to offer.

No Treadmills, No Bicep Curls, No Headphones.

Again, CrossFit is one of the best workouts because it eliminates everything that a globo-gym embraces and encourages. The music is usually played from a single source, loud enough for everyone to enjoy. This is because each person doing a CrossFit workout is doing it together. When the clock starts, or the whistle blows, or the coach yells “GO”, every person begins the same workout. They don’t do isolated workouts for instance, just focusing on your left bicep or just your calves. No, each workout is designed for a total body workout. Rowing, pull-ups, pushups, sprints, kettlebells, deadlifts, cleans, presses, squats, if it has the ability to enhance your everyday life and your overall movement, you’ll be doing it.

There’s No I in Team

A typical CrossFit WOD (workout of the day) will involve a timer and a large group. This is not to terrify you, I swear. This is not to make you feel slow, weak, or less athletic. The timer as well as the group, is there to help you push yourself, to do better than you did last week, last month, last year. Many Crossfitters keep journals of their WOD’s to keep track of how long it took them to complete say, 500 meter row, max effort four weeks prior. Each the WOD is a 500 meter row, you can look back at your journal and track your progress. The sense of accomplishment, growth and improvement built into these workouts is amazing and you always leave a CrossFit workout feeling like you got the best workout. Even though there are people around you, possibly finishing first, running faster, lifting more, completing more reps in less time, there is such a sense of connection and community in a CrossFit gym, the competition becomes half the fun. You want the person next to you to do better, because you’ve been watching them work on their pull-ups for 3 months now and they finally did the prescribed amount from the WOD. No other gym experience will give you that reward and eliminate the stress of working out in front of people.

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A Personal Trainer for Every Workout!

Every CrossFit instructor is trained and qualified to help you perform your best, safest, workout. They will never put you up to something that your body couldn’t handle. They evaluate your strength, challenge you, watch you grow and congratulate your efforts. They also ensure that each time you lower that bar, pull yourself up, or do a standard squat, that your form is 100% accurate to eliminate the risk of injury. The best part? The cost of the personal trainer is built right into your gym membership.

No Two are Alike

I’ve done CrossFit workouts with 65-year-old women, 12 year-old-kids, triathletes and couch potatoes. Each of those people has impressed me time and time again with their efforts, growth and resilience. CrossFit has proved to be one of the most motivating environments nationwide because of their overall approach to fitness.

Expect the Unexpected

Expect a bucket of chalk, ropes from the ceiling (yes, you will learn to climb a rope), rubber matted floors, no mirrors, kettlebells, row machines, pullup bars, yelling, loud music, wallballs, people cheering you on, a little bit of blood (from mastering your pullup), tape, sweat and a new outlook on fitness.

What to Wear:

In terms of clothing, anything that you would normally wear to sweat in will suffice. Most people wear shorts, sports bras and a good pair of running sneakers on running/rowing days. For workouts that don’t include running or rowing, you’ll see people in shoes with little support, multisport shoes or simply barefoot, as this is the optimum way to workout and build strength. You’ve probably heard people discuss the damage caused by overly supportive sneakers. You’d be surprised at what your feet are naturally capable, in this case, less is more!

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Something else you might see at CrossFit are knee-high socks. While, yes, this is rather sexy for girls, it is also extremely functional. When performing deadlifts, the bars are supposed to stay right in line with your shins until the last moment of max effort, when the bar is thrust upward. To avoid scrapes, cuts and burns on the shins, girls (and guys) wear these socks to protect their legs. For the same reason, CrossFitters tape their hands, wear gloves and use chalk when performing any exercise that might cut their hands. These won’t be things you need to worry about in your first class, but for future reference, invest in some tape!

Overall, a CrossFit workout is one of the fastest, most efficient ways to get your daily dose of endorphins and strength. From gymnastics, calisthenics, endurance and weight lifting, CrossFitters are truly some of the strongest, healthiest bunch. Check out your state, CrossFit gyms are becoming huge across the United States and many offer free trial classes, bootcamps and discounts for students and civil servants.

Here’s *a video* to check out, too :)

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Jenna, I was pretty much blown away by this post. You’re a rockstar.. and possibly may have convinced me to give it a whirl ;)

Have you tried CrossFit before? What was your experience like?

See ya later today!

xoxo

Gina

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Comments

  1. Crossfit is what I do! Its my main form of exercise. I love it love it love it! I just got back a little while ago in fact. Overhead squats kick my butt. I’ve been doing it for about 3 months and have gotten SO much stronger. I’m injured from running but since I started Xfit my injury has gotten so much better and I’m a better vball player than I was in college, WTH?! haha Give it a chance, you will love it. The workouts are never the same and your always challenged and its like being a part of a family! Don’t be scared, everyone starts somewhere and at least where I go no one was EVER rude to me or acted like they were better when I started.

  2. Gina whats your take on the paleo diet?

  3. I’ve never tried cross-fit before. It kind of reminds me of a boot camp class I took. It sounds like lots of fun though!

  4. I am a crossfit certified personal trainer along with many other certifications and years of experience under my belt. I have to say, xfit is the most invigorating, fun, challenging and rewarding type of workout. Everyone supports one another and builds an amazing community. Try it out Gina, you not only will rock at it, but you will love it :)

  5. I’m so glad you posted all this great info..I never really even knew such a thing existed!! I would definitely be willing to give it a go!

  6. CrossFit has totally changed my entire outlook on working out. I’m a classic case of “getting bored” and CF has kept me on my toes for 10 months now! My trainer is AMAZING and the progress is visible to EVERYONE! Most importantly, yourself. I never would have thought that 10 months ago I would be doing pull ups and lifting 110lbs! Let alone having my thighs look this good!!! I still get intimidated at certain workouts (thanks for Helen meets Grace :/) but my trainer is there pushing and supporting and the feeling when you are done is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. And working out with a group forces you to push yourself. Plus it’s a whole group of people just like you, so you are able to have discussions with people who know exactly what you are talking about. I would highly recommend that everyone at least try it, it’s worth the hype!

  7. I have been a Crossfitter for over 3 years now and I love it! I went from barely doing a push up to rocking out 30 with no problem. I can do real unassisted pull ups and deadlift almost twice my bodyweight. It’s amazing how strong and confident it makes me feel. Oh and the best part: you never get bored!

    Great recap and explanation of Crossfit!

  8. Wow crossfit sounds like an amazing workout. I love how you can track your progress so easily!

  9. My bestie is on a Crossfit Games team (it’s like a competition among crossfit gyms across the country) and watching her is so AWESOME! I’m a little scared of it myself but I love how functional it is. Awesome :D

  10. OK, I never comment but I just HAD to on this one!
    I have been Crossfit-ing for almost 5 months now and I can honestly say it has changed my life. I love going to my “box” and never dread a work out (well only when it is Fight Gone Bad – google that and you’ll see!) I played Division 1 field hockey in college and I am BY FAR in better shape now than I was in my playing days! Everyone is so friendly and so supportive. The sense of accomplishment you get at the end of a workout is incomparable. Even if you are intimidated by Crossfit just DO IT! Everyone starts somewhere and you will be surprised at how encouraging people are even when you’re a newbie because you are all in it together!

  11. Thank you for posting this!! I have always wondered what CrossFit is about and if I could do it. It’s definitely something I’ll be trying one day!

  12. Crystal says:

    As terrifying as crossfit sounds, I have seen a lot of people who do it, and they really are all different ages, weights, etc. It’s just that the idea of working out in groups like that brings me back to middle school PE days (shudder)…

  13. YAY PROVIDENCE! I saw the first picture and thought – I know that restaurant/running path! Too funny. I love how blogs allow you to find people/blogs right in your own backyard! I’ve definitely been scared of CrossFit too, but Jenna (and the fact that she’s in my city) helped sooth my fears.

  14. My school offers CrossFit as a PE credit but I opted out of taking it simply because those classes aren’t ever nearly what the actual training/sport is. Like with weight training, the coaches spend hal the time lecturing good form and what not..but the actual weight training’s optional. It does look fun, though!

    • michelleb. says:

      Congratulations La Fregada! I am sure you are an inspiration. No Box near me, but I have checked into costs at various locations, There are so many ways to waste money, at least CrossFit is beneficial to those who go. I wish you the best of luck and continued success

  15. I’ve never tried this before, but it looks interesting! I’ll have to look into it some more!

  16. I’ve been SO interested in trying crossfit but SO scared! I think that because the crossfit community is so close it’s much harder to give it a try the first time. It’s always hard trying something new with a group of close knit people you don’t know!

  17. LOVELOVELOVE CrossFit! It makes me work for what I want, but at my own pace level. I tried it through lululemon’s Sweat Once A Day challenge and it provided the perfect workout when I wanted something balls to the wall.

    Could you maybe do a post on Pure Barre? I’m obsessed and I want other people to discover the joy! Haha, yeah, a bit crazy.

    • Do you go to the classes? Have you tried the DVDs?

      • I try to go at least three times a week, more unless I’m sick or something. I just got the 16th Street:2 Dvd so that I don’t have to miss out when I travel. I prefer the studio because I have nothing but positive feedback for the one I go to, and it’s really a community feel. We all feel the burn together :)

        Have you tried any of the DVDs?

  18. I recently took a pole dancing class at a gym in DC and saw a bunch of people doing crossfit and have wanted to do it ever since. I’ve been super intimidated but thanks to this post I think I’m going to sign up! Also, in the what to wear section of this post, where are those shorts from?? I want them!

  19. I did Crossfit to get in shape for my wedding and became a total addict. I will never give it up (I even did workouts at 9 months pregnant.)
    I went from doing a #125 deadlift the first week to #235 four months later…but not while becoming a bulky mess of muscle. My wedding dress actually had to be taken in several inches even though I lost only a handful of pounds.
    There are NO workouts I’ve ever tried that are as fun/motivating/extreme/painful/wonderful as Crossfit. I’ve even told my husband that at our next duty station we are picking a house that is near a Crossfit box!

  20. Rochelle says:

    I have only tried crossfit once, as a guest of a friend (her bf is a cross-fit coach) and i loved it! So amazing to push yourself, get encouragement from the whole group, and not think about anything else for a while. The cost is the only thing preventing me from dedicating myself to crossfit :(

  21. I have been doing crossfit for 5 months now and I love it. I love the workouts, the competiveness I get, and the people that go there. I never leave their with out breaking out in a hard sweat. Ever since I started I do not want to do anything else but that. New follower!!

  22. Hey Gina! Good news… my boyfriend and I are moving to Tucson in a few months!!! I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind if I e-mailed you a few craigslist links and you could let me know if they’re in a safe area? We aren’t going to look at places until next week so there’s no rush- just whenever you get a free sec! Let me know and I’ll send them over :)

  23. I’ve tried Crossfit and I really liked it and would do it again if I ever feel like spending the $ on it. But I hate those boxes. They’re super difficult for shorties like me.

  24. I’ve not tried CrossFit but it looks, dare I say, fun. Similar to a boot camp I used to attend. Gina, I had to post to tell you how much I love the Breakfast cookie! Oh my amazing! The discovery of your breakfast cookie recipe has changed my life…okay maybe a little dramatic but it’s definitely improved my mornings :)

  25. Brittany says:

    CrossFit is my workout of choice! I love it! I have tried all kinds of workouts and CrossFit is an all around great workout! I am SO happy you are doing a focus on it…it is addicting! I do have to throw some hot yoga in a couple times a week to work on my flexibility thought! GREAT POST :)

  26. This is so cool! I have never even heard of cross fit but it sounds awesome! I have definitely got to look into going to one of those gyms!

  27. Love crossfit. We do this every thursday with our group pt class. I honestly can say ive seen more improvement in my fitness levels than anything ive ever done and it definately stops the boredom factor ppl get from doing the same workout. Ive done now for about a year and totally recommend it.

  28. I have always wondered why my CrossFit friends wore knee high socks!! Now I know!

  29. I love Crossfit. I’ve never had better workouts. And Jenna is totally right – it is not intimidating. My class is full of ex-marines, police officers…and people like me. And you know what? I chug right along (with considerably lower weights) and it makes me feel awesome!

    You should try it Gina, you would love it!

  30. I’ve never known what CrossFit is before reading this post, but it sounds amazing! It also seems like a great way to meet people, as opposed to a regular gym where everyone is off in their own world with their headphones in. I’m definitely going to check out if there is a CrossFit gym in my area!

  31. I have only tired CrossFit once and it was a killer, I would love to give it another go. I have used some of their exercises in my classes and with clients too!

  32. I rarely ever leave comments on your blog (sorry!) but after reading this post I knew I had to. I can’t even begin to tell you how much Crossfit has changed my life. I started going to my local Crossfit back in mid-January after going through a very rough patch workout-wise. As someone who typically works out about 5 days/week, I was starting to lose steam – I was totally unmotivated to go to the gym, my workouts were dull and boring, and my energy decreased tremendously. I knew I needed something to bring back my love of exercise and fitness. Enter Crossfit. Yes, you pay a premium to workout there. Yes, you get your ass handed to you each time you workout. Yes, it may be intimidating at first. But the results you get, the friends you make, the motivation you receive….its all worth it. I’ve seen better results after a few months of Crossfit than I have after almost four years of regular strength training. I’m not a morning person by any means, but I even get up to attend the 6 am class on days that are jam-packed with work, school, etc. That’s how much I love Crossfit. I encourage everyone to check it out!

  33. great post!!! I have been an avid CrossFitter for about 8 months now and I LOVE it! It has also motivated me to do some events like Tough Mudder and the Spartan races..obstacle course type things. What I love is that it’s pretty much NEVER the same unless you are doing a benchmark workout. But no two weeks or two months are ever identical. I love the team environment, we all cheer each other on and push each other every time to do better. If you aren’t there people message you and ask where you have been, they know what you can do and seem to push me further each time. I know especially for women it can be extremely intimidating walking into a gym like that…but from my experience it’s only the first time, after that you will never turn back. You will be welcomed with open arms, I promise!!!
    Give it a try, you won’t regret it!!!

  34. I had no idea what Crossfit was all about! Thanks for this post :-)

  35. Stephanie says:

    I love Crossfit, but it’s too darn expensive here! My gym membership is only $35, but crossfit memberships run over $100! :(

    • I agree – that’s the biggest drawback. It’s just under $200 where I live. The nice thing is that you can do the same exercises at any gym…

  36. CrossFit can totally be intimidating at first but within second you will find that the gym is full of super supportive patrons. Everyone wants to see everyone else do their best and will be there cheering u on whether ir first or last…it is a one of a kind environment!

  37. My husband swears by crossfit. He does it in his gym on base though (they have all the equipment). The crossfit website puts up the WOD so as long as you know what you’re doing, or have a buddy to watch your form, it’s really doable on your own. I’m pretty sure I will start doing it with him after I have our baby! It is a super intense workout!

  38. I am a first timer here. This post just caught my eye because I joined crossfit after I finished rehab to relearn to walk. Rehab only takes you to the point of being able to stand on your own and use a walker. Don’t get me wrong, after all my body has been through (coma, broke 1/2 my body, etc, etc), i am still a hefty 280 with a long way to go but crossfit has really helped me build muscle. I can walk up stairs now and for me that is incredible. If they can take me at my fitness level or lack thereof, they can take anyone. I love it but… the cost is the only thing that makes me wince.

  39. Do not walk, RUN to your nearest Crossfit box and sign up, like YESTERDAY! I drank the kool aid (and made my husband drink it too.) You will seriously be addicted :) Can you tell I am madly in love with Crossfit? I haven’t started back up after having my baby because we’re moving in 3 weeks to a new state and want to start fresh there. I hope you try it and love it!

  40. michelleb. says:

    So sad there is no Box near me. I thought for sure with the number of military personnel transferring into my area a CrossFit Box would open in my county, but nothing yet…..In the meantime I go to GloboGym, avoid the dumbells and machines and swing the bells while everyone else takes turns sitting on the benches.

  41. Just wanted to say that this post inspired me to join my local Crossfit (even if it took a couple months). Today was my first day and I can already tell I’m a fan. Thanks for introducing me to CrossFit!

  42. Today is my first day of CrossFit… I am SO nervous!!!!

  43. I have to post… and like others im not a poster. I started crossfit after seeing a groupon for it at a killer price… and boy did i get lucky. I didnt have a clue what crossfit was, but now just after 3 weeks am so addicted! I have noticed visible signs already and just cant wait to see where im at next month. Its very exciting and just sooo good for your body. I have class tonight and i get butterflies thinking about it. Doesnt hurt that my trainer is totally hot either. = ) Crossfit is def something to incorporate into your life. It is not easy nor cheap, but the results leave me not caring for a second about those things. IF you like it you will figure out how to find the money to do it. Just LOVE it! Give it a try.

  44. I tried crossfit for about 6 months because I said I would give it a fair try but I never enjoyed it and my marathon time got much slower. I love to run so I ditched the crossfit and stuck with what I love. The main thing that bothered me is people in my box, anyhow, acting like crossfit is the only answer for everyone and insisting my times must not be slowing down even though they were from 10k on up in distance. (5k didn’t improve but held steady). People I thought were friends were also shitty to me when I quit. (Not everyone but some- including an instructor). That wasnt cool. That’s the main reason I discourage people now- I am scared they will run into the same attitude I did. Can’t we all do what we love?

  45. Thank you for sharing this post. Very useful info here. Crossfit is hrd but well worth the effort. I can see you really spent some time on this….great job!

  46. Just saw this post…and had to comment like everyone else. I started CF 6 months ago. I am 36 yrs old and am in better shape now than when I was 20 yrs old in the Marine Corps. Funny thing is, I am 5’1 and 95 lbs, so when you talk about all shapes and sizes, I’d be on the flea end of the spectrum. I was intimidated by the weightlifting upon entering CF for the first time. I can tell you now….I LOVE IT! I may not be a heavy lifting mama, but I am super strong now, I look better than before having kids even! CF has taught me to believe in myself, given me confidence, something for myself, a new outlook on fitness, healthier eating habits (who wants to go eat a bunch of cake and grease when you work as hard as you do at CF?)….the list goes on. Yes, it is pricey BUT, when it comes to my health…..that is priceless. I cannot imagine my life now without CF. My husband and I both go and we love this new dynamic to our marriage. Oh, and with my new body AND his….our intimate life is, well amazing!

    I can do some pretty insane things like handstand push-ups, pull-ups, weightlifting, running, rope climbing, double unders…..is there anything I can’t do? Probably….but CF has given me the confidence to take on anything that comes my way. I am sore like hell everyday….but I love it!

  47. Aimee Branson says:

    I recently started doing CrossFit and I LOVE it. I have never been an athletic person, but I love the challenge CrossFit gives me. I am far from where I want to be, but I am going to keep working at it and hopefully be where I want to be soon.

  48. I attend FreakinCrossfit and I LOVE the community at this box! I am in my mid 30’s and we have members as young as 17 years old to 50+. I was 210 lbs using a sleep apnea machine and out of breath when I climbed the stairs! I was so afraid to join a box. Today I’m 151 lbs and I’m stronger than I was yesterday. Some days I finish with the average member and some days like yesterday I finish last! But I never feel bad because the team is so encouraging and motivating and they remind me I’m not alone. All different levels from beginner to competitive.

    My son joined Crossfit last week and he is a teenager with cerebral palsy (mild). He had a surgery where the doctor cut 22+ nerves in his spinal cord to help him with his spasticity, and he was hospitalized for 22 days between Dec 2013 – Jan 2014 and he had to learn how to walk all over again! And he LOVES Crossfit! If he can do it, I truly believe anyone can do it! Now everyone has their favorite sport or activity so I get that it’s not for everyone but if you like variety, challenge and a sense of community then you will love Crossfit.

    However, I will say every box is not the same. Of the 3 in my local community there is one I would not join. So do your homework, interview the owner(s), talk to members, try a free class, and visit to see if the owner is truly engaged in the operations to ensure proper techniques are being taught and ensure proper management of the box. No matter what decision one makes I say just keep moving! Stay healthy and fit!

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