First time at CrossFit

 Hi!  Thank you again to Garmin for the fantastic giveaway opportunity and to all of you for the wonderful entries. So many of them touched my heart, and a few brought me to tears. You all have amazing stories to tell, and I was so inspired to read of your reasons to be active. Even on my toughest days and most challenging workouts, I’m thankful to be healthy enough to get out there and try.

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So, I tried CrossFit last night.

I didn’t really want to like it. I’d seen videos and wasn’t impressed with the form for many of the movements, had been kinda blah about the whole “drink the Kool Aid” kinda atmosphere. I wasn’t sure how I felt about it.

Well, I tasted the Kool Aid….

And it was pretty good 😉

I got a GREAT workout, had a lot of fun, and was surrounded by motivating people who pushed each other and were kind enough to take me under their wings.

Of course, there’s no way to make a full assessment after only taking one class, but here’s a little bit about my experience, my initial thoughts and how they compare to my previous perception of the workout.

I got to the gym (or “box” as they like to call it) and I knew what to expect from seeing pictures online: a no-frills atmosphere with rings, blocks, kettle bells, barbells, rowing stations and pull-up bars. Everyone was already grabbing supplies and getting set up, and I stood at the small desk awkwardly waiting to talk to someone and sign a waiver form. It was the longest 3 minutes… I felt really out of place and not sure what to do.

Crossfit 3

Thankfully, Aly, one of the coaches, came up and was so helpful and kind- she made me feel welcome. Another coach went over the warm-up, which consisted of moves I’d never seen before, like walking across the gym with kettlebells, some pull-up jumpy thing and a couple of other things (can you tell I skipped most of it?). He went over everything SO fast, and everyone just got started doing the movements on their own time. I was kind of waiting for him to say “Ok, team! Let’s go!” turn on the music and instruct us along, but nope, that’s not how it works. You do everything at your own pace during the allotted time and however many you finish, you finish. 


(I took a couple of pics following the class I took – there was no way I was going to be walking around snapping pics during a class)

I hesitantly did a few of the only moves I knew, the Turkish get-ups, and then went to the powder room as I felt my eyes sting. I knew I should have gone to a beginners’ class, but I messed up looking at the schedule (beginners is TODAY, not yesterday) but they kindly let me take the class anyway. Tom was home watching Liv and I told myself I had to try it at least one and stick it out, even if I was wayyyy out of my comfort zone.

When I came out, I did a couple half-hearted burpees, and then a girl from class came up and told me she read my blog. She was awesome, and helped me with the rest of the workout. We did some barbells squats (adding weight each time) in a team -everyone cheered each other on and the girls introduced themselves to me- and then as many rounds as possible in 12 minutes of the following:

-200m run

-5 pull-ups

-10 push-ups

-15 air squats

I knew how to do all of those, thank goodness, and made it through 5 rounds. I also felt like my body was going to explode. It looks easy when you write it down, but going for time was INTENSE.

Afterwards, we stretched, I thanked Kirsten for helping me push through the workout, and I felt like a million bucks when it was over.

I now have a better -and slightly different- opinion of CrossFit.

Crossfit 2


-Functional training. I love the fact that the exercises are designed to replicate actions that you would normally do. If you think about it, traditional strength training can be awkward (or frilly) and many of the movements have no real life application. The hardcore CrossFit workouts can help build strength to increase power in everyday tasks. 

-Every day is different. Change creates change, and CrossFit reduces the likelihood of plateaus by constantly changing and evolving workouts. The fact that your scores are recorded can also provide inspiration to improve performance the next time, and encourages your muscles to keep guessing and changing instead of kicking into cruise control. This can also help reduce boredom since you know you have a new and exciting workout to look forward to. 

-Team environment and encouragement. There’s an amazing camaraderie between CrossFitters and I can definitely see why that would be inspiring to stick with it. It’s a huge reason why I love group fitness so much- I thrive off the energy from training in a large group. This in itself was enough for me to really enjoy the class. 

-Physical gains– but I can’t help but wonder if they’re more closely related to the specific type of training, or the diet they suggest? I’m a believer that working out is critical and helps to shape your physique, but fat loss is largely attributed to changes in diet. CrossFit devotees follow a Paleo style of eating, and if you make drastic dietary changes (including ones that eliminate entire food groups, as Paleo does) chances are that your body will respond. 

-It’s marketed as a lifestyle. Anything that has the potential to become something you stick with over the long term is a good thing. I don’t feel like CrossFit preaches unrealistic results, and I appreciate the fact that it gives participants measurable goals to achieve. I firmly believe that we shouldn’t be punishing ourselves at the gym doing things we hate -so if CrossFit is something that you really love and want to make a part of your lifestyle, I’m cheering for you the entire way. It’s just not going to be a part of mine. 

Why I’ll be adding CrossFit into my life, but not on a regular basis:

-I love the fact that CrossFit encourages lifting and strength training, especially since women don’t strength train nearly enough to protect and promote bone health. That being said, and please don’t get mad, but I have no desire to do Olympic-style lifting. Like my good buddy Ron has said (he’s also known as Mr. Georgia), it doesn’t matter if you lift 50 lbs or if you’re trying to lift 500 and about to hurt yourself. It’s about following a quality training plan with good form and awareness of your personal limits. While I do think it’s important to push yourself, and I like to lift heavy weights, I think it can get a little ridiculous. There are diminishing returns after a certain point, and instead of continuing to pile on weight, I recommend changing the exercises you’re doing (different variation, alternating tempo, static holds, pulses) instead of putting more strain on your joints with insanely high weight. 

-I’m not a huge fan of barbell training, and prefer dumbbells, pulley systems or kettle bells. With barbells, I can easily “cheat” by using my stronger side to perform most of the movement. I find that I like the results of dumbbell training and pulley training, especially since I have muscle imbalances that I’m working to correct, not encourage.

-I feel like there’s a focus on quantity over quality since the workouts are timed. This, in addition to the form that’s allowed-I don’t think you should have to “snake” into a pull-up or up from a pushup- can possibly lead to injury. While I know what my personal limits are and how to safely execute the movements, looking around, the trainer in my brain was having a panic attack. But, after I was shown how to properly do the movements, they felt fine (challenging but not like I was hurting myself).

I also see how it can be beneficial to have timed workouts, too, because it encourages you to really push yourself. Both sides make sense to me for this one, especially because I believe that if you’re healthy and are taught proper form, your chance of injury is far less likely. It’s also worth noting that “proper form” is different across the board: you’ll see different cueing methods and techniques in BodyPump, TRX and CrossFit. 

-Time and financial commitment. CrossFit is expensive, but I think it’s one of those things where if it’s really enjoyable to you and you see positive results, you’re more likely to pay the higher cost because you’re making it a priority. It’s not really worth the long-term investment for me, especially since I have a gym membership with awesome childcare and can also work out at work. 

-Different body types will have various responses to all of the training styles out there. It’s up to each of us to experiment and find the best method for our bodies. For me, a combo of everything I enjoy gives me the best results, mentally and physically, since they challenge me and I love the variety: yoga, spin, running, HIIT, strength training and ZUMBA!

For CrossFit, I enjoyed pushing myself in a different way, and definitely think I’ll be back to take another class.

All in all, I think a clean diet (whole, unprocessed foods, with lots of lean protein, produce and healthy fats) has the most impact on physical results- it’s just a matter of finding your best training style, that you enjoy, to go along with it. 

Have you tried CrossFit? Love it, or decide it’s not for you?

I’m excited to hear what you think!



Interested in more info? Check out this CrossFit Focus On post, from a CrossFit regular

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  1. Simone on September 12, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    Although I really enjoyed my experience I felt like there wasn’t enough emphasis on proper form, this may have just been at my box, but I ended up getting hurt 2 times for a significant period of time and to be honest has left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth

  2. Leanne @ eatandgetmoving on September 12, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    Thanks for this post 🙂 I hate that feeling of being an outsider – too bad that’s how you have to start most of the times 🙁 I’d love to do crossfit some day! I’m not sure where to go to, it’s not so big in Holland (yet). I’m so not in shape and so not strong at the moment… so I’m just doing regular fitness for now to get some muscle mass back, once I’m able to do more than 3 push-ups in a row… I’ll give crossfit a go 😉

  3. Sam @ Better With Sprinkles on September 12, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    I’m hoping to try out Crossfit soon – but like you, I don’t plan on making it my main source of exercise. it looks like a great workout, but I’d rather balance in out with other things, like lifting, running, intervals and yoga.

  4. Lacey @ familyfitnessandfoodery on September 12, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    Sounds really interesting and possibly very fun. I have never tried it and unless we move somewhere else I doubt I ever will. I live in a very small town. Very few Fitness classes here. Great post though!

  5. Kerry on September 12, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    Hi Gina, first off LOVE your blog, you have a great mix of informative workout info (I’m a qualified trainer too) and personality, so enjoyable to read 😉
    Ok, I actually tried it after wanting to for a long time, but went in with almost the opposite idea, in that I REALLY wanted to and genuinely thought I would love it…
    It was a beginners class I went to and though the workout was fine, got a muscle burn and that totally awesome exhausted feeling after you’ve worked hard…but no more and probably not as much as I do in any of my other regular workouts, and without that “chill” factor if you know what I mean (I’m a regular runner, yogini and love spinning, circuits and occasional bodypump).
    First thing that REALLY put me off was the first sentence out of the trainer’s mouth as we began the functional movements (happened to be squats the first night I went) “Anything you hear outside these four walls about how to do a squat correctly is bulls***” This pretty much set the tone for the overwhelming attitude of “everything you have ever been told, taught, done or experienced in relation to exercise or fitness is wrong”. These people outwardly made fun of runners and anyone who takes group fitness classes. As a decent standard runner, someone who most people would consider pretty fit, a qualified trainer who went through an excellent programme to gain my certifications and actually as a human being with a mind and decision-making capacity of her own I really found the attitude and some of the assertations made extremely offensive, degrading and purposefully intimidating…a real cult mentality, “our way or the highway….this is THE only REAL way to train yourself or others to legitimately be considered fit”.
    Add to this the poster on the wall proclaiming vegetarians to be “an old term for the village idiot who didn’t know how to hunt, fish or kill”……ok so now not only is your workout protocol the be all and end all but so is your diet philosophy. Full disclosure: I am a vegetarian, that is my PERSONAL choice, but I do not EVER preach to others how I believe they or anyone else should eat, nor do I single out groups of people with different viewpoints than myself for public ridicule.
    I went there for the purpose of trying out a new (what appeared to be) exciting and different workout and left feeling belittled (and I’m not talking humbled in the sense of the workout kicking my ass…that kind I welcome 😉 and not at all motivated to spend my workout tijme, which is my ME time to enjoy, to switch off, to feel strong and free and empowered, in this kind of atmosphere.
    I love my so-called “generic” gym, so what if I like to run sometimes, spin sometimes, do yoga, circuits, body pump, kickbox, whatever!! So what if my vegetarian “diet” (lord I hate that word but don’t know how else to put it) isn’t the “latest thing” or doesn’t match what others believe is “optimal”, we are all DIFFERENT, there is no one size fits all, crossfit is not the be all and end all….some love it..GREAT….if it works for you and you’re thriving off of it, paleo diet included or not, GO FOR IT….awesome….hey, I’m all for anything that gets people of the couch and away from standard processed diets…but if it’s not your thing that’s cool too, don’t get sucked in (and potentially spend a LARGE sum of money) just because it’s the latest thing to do.
    SO SORRY for the long and negative rant, I have been so frustrated about this, and was genuinely THRILLED to see as balanced approach to it. I must state that I have only tried one crossfit gym/box and therefore can ONLY speak from that perspective, I have heard there is huge variation across boxes and it may be that I simply had a bad experience and negative initial impressions.
    RANT OVER (p.s. Gina I also tried Zumba for the first time recently….now THAT I LOVED…new addition to my workout programme! :-))

  6. Alyson on September 12, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    I have been doing crossfit for over 3 months now in Saint Louis and I haven’t repeated a WOD yet. I can run, bike, and swim miles, but I couldn’t do a kipping pull up, crossfit push up, or double under before crossfit and now I can 🙂 It is great for strength training with a group and meeting new people who like to be fit. I do it 3x/week to replace my resistance training during marathon training. I am a faster and stronger runner because of it. I ran 22 miles the other day training for the chicago marathon in a month and I am on pace to get a personal best time. Give Crossfit a few more sessions to get the feel for the routine and how you can push yourself behind the basic workout. Keep it up!

  7. Meghan @ After the Ivy League on September 12, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    Really loving this detailed review of CrossFit, it’s given me a lot to think about. My roommate recently joined a “box” and loves it…but I’ve been very hesitant to jump on the wagon. I know it would push me and would probably give great results, but it’s so expensive…and really seems like one of those things that you’ll either love or hate. Not sure if I’m ready to risk the finances to try it yet.

  8. Jake Rasmussen on September 12, 2012 at 6:02 pm

    Great post!
    I am a regular at CrossFit Purgatory.
    I really enjoyed your musings above. I’m really sorry about the three long minutes waiting at the desk. Those of us who have been there for awhile should have done a better job welcoming you for sure.

    Hope you will come again and hang with us. CrossFit has really helped me meet and exceed the goals I have set for myself. It isn’t easy at all, but I really enjoy it.

    I would say the top 3 things I like most about CrossFit are…

    1) The Community. I love the communal aspects of the gym. Encouragement, friendship and mutual suffering!

    2) The super functional movements. Everything I do in a workout at CrossFit is beneficial for everyday experiences.

    3) The feeling of accomplishment. After a tough workout, I really like the feeling of knowing I was able to push myself that hard.

    What are your top 3 most enjoyable things about your first experience?

    P.S. I know how you felt, by the way, being the new person not knowing what was going on. I was in your shoes about a year ago when I started my lifelong fitness journey.


    • Fitnessista on September 13, 2012 at 12:17 am

      hey jake,
      thank you so much for your comment (and tweet)- it’s nice to “meet” you! i’m hoping to make it back soon and take some beginner classes.
      i would have to say that my top 3 were:
      -group atmosphere. i thrive off a group environment and could tell that i was in a group of extremely motivated and kind individuals
      -feeling like a million bucks when it was over. i was a sweaty, shaky mess and i didn’t even do the entire thing!
      -the ability to move at your own pace. since i was new, it was nice to know that i wasn’t holding anyone back

      thank you again for saying hi and hope to see you soon!

  9. Leslie on September 12, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    I guess I’m just weird or to much of a girly girl but I have no desire to try crossfit because I don’t like the whole “box” setting. I have no desire to workout in a warehouse type setting. Every picture of a crossfit facility that I’ve seen on blogs, magazines, tv etc are just ugly. I would feel gross working out in that setting. I love my lifetime fitness because it’s got all that I need to get an amazing workout and it’s pretty there. I know it’s probaly silly to feel that way but I do. I would like to try to flip those big tires I’ve seen at some crossfit places though. Not sure what that says about me. I like your review of crossfit.

  10. Michelle @ Turning Over a New Leaf on September 12, 2012 at 6:38 pm

    I sometimes do Crossfit workouts “at home” (I get the WODs on my phone and do them at the local YMCA where I work). They are not all timed. There are just as many workouts that are “for time”–however long it takes to do the prescribed (or scaled) amount. This is especially good in my case to make sure I’m using correct form each and every time.

    I don’t follow Crossfit workouts 100% because I don’t believe in killing myself on a 3-on-1-off schedule. 2-3 times a week of strength training works best for me. But I’ve adapted my strength training so that it’s similar to Crossfit in a lot of ways. I DO like the barbell training and olympic lifting, because 1) they more effective FOR ME in building functional strength, and 2) they make my entire workout simpler. I don’t like having a long list of different exercises and sets and reps to keep up with. I like that I can go in, do between two and four different lifts, spend 15-20 minutes tops, and get a very effective workout. Of course, it fits in my schedule better that way too, because I can hop in to the weight room for a few minutes after teaching Zumba.

  11. Katie on September 12, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    The only “Crossfit” workouts I’ve done are from their free website and only when I am familiar with the exercises and it looks fun. 🙂 Or the workouts that Yes, I Want Cake highlights. Honestly, I don’t want to pay the insane amount of money just to workout. 🙁 Plus, I don’t like the way heavy lifting makes my body feel. I LOVE lifting, but not to the point of joint pain afterwards. Just me…

  12. Stacy on September 12, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    Recently I ran across Zuzana Light’s YouTube Channel and have been watching her workouts. I don’t think that I can push myself everyday like she does, but I think it would be an awesome addition to my biking, running and weight routine. Bob Harper has even started doing these types of workout and is a big fan. I think that I will do them on my own, but when it comes to form, I am going to stick with what I know. Form is everything. It has been drilled into my head by every trainner I have ever talked to. Crossfit has its place, but like today or yesterday the WOD was 100 thrusters. That is it. Hard and difficult yes, but will I be able to do my long run on saturday??? Who knows and I can’t take that chance. My workout I did last week had weights but I did 3 burpees inbetween them and didn’t stop. Better than a runner’s high. I swear. I just don’t know about doing that 5 days a week!

  13. Mariea on September 12, 2012 at 6:44 pm

    “Physical gains- but I can’t help but wonder if they’re more closely related to the specific type of training, or the diet they suggest? I’m a believer that working out is critical and helps to shape your physique, but fat loss is largely attributed to changes in diet.”

    For what it’s worth, I do not follow the paleo diet and my box doesn’t push any sort of diet. I haven’t changed my diet at all since starting crossfit (vegetarian for 11 years) except for the fact that I eat a whole heck of a lot more (heck yeah!).

    in any case i enjoy crossfit; the always changing workouts, challenging myself to get better at the various exercises, and the great group atmosphere. but then again i do enjoy barbell and olympic style training as i have a background in it from DI college hockey.

  14. Maria on September 12, 2012 at 7:08 pm

    Couldn’t agree more, Gina! I can understand why people love it – its intense and makes you feel like a bada$$. But, I would also get soooo nervous before my CrossFit workouts (I did them with all my coworkers). It was that feeling I used to have in gym class; worried if I would be the last one picked for the team kind of nervous. And working out should be fun and you should look forward to it! Yes, pushing yourself and getting a bit nervous over that is important, but you should never dread a workout. If you are, then it’s not the right one for you. It was that way with me and CrossFit.

    Thanks so much for sharing your experience!

  15. Meghan @ on September 12, 2012 at 7:08 pm

    I started CrossFit a little over a month ago and do classes 3-4 times a week. I can really tell a difference in my strength and my ABS! I want to sing halleluiah just saying the word! As a personal trainer in the past, I can tell you that some of the people’s forms make me cringe, but I just have to concentrate on what I’m doing and do it as fast as I can. (I may be a little competitive!) Glad you enjoyed it! Love your blog by the way! You have a beautiful family!

  16. Jacquelyn on September 12, 2012 at 8:34 pm

    I haven’t tried Crossfit but I’ve been wanting to. I’m definitely nervous about it though. I’m trying to find a buddy to rope into it. Plus things are more fun with a buddy aren’t they?

  17. Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin on September 12, 2012 at 9:29 pm

    I tried a pseudo-CrossFit workout at HLS this year and it made me really want to try out the real thing! I actually have an opportunity to try it later this month and get a free 10 class pass, so I’m really excited about that!

  18. Meg on September 12, 2012 at 9:58 pm

    I have been SO busy with university again lately Gina, but was SO excited to read your post today!!!!!!!!! I love reading your thoughts on every topic and couldn’t wait to read about your CrossFit experience! I am truly so proud of you for stepping out of your comfort zone and trying it! High five 🙂 <3

  19. Brittany on September 12, 2012 at 10:09 pm

    This is a great review Gina. I did a 12 class Living Social Deal for CrossFit and while I enjoyed some aspects, I disliked others – basically all the ones you mentioned. The quantity over quality approach and the focus on adding more and more weight is what worried me most. I don’t want to injure myself and have no desire to do Olympic weight lifting either. To each their own, it’s just not my style.

  20. Stellina @ My Yogurt Addiction on September 12, 2012 at 10:39 pm

    I have not formally gone to a crossfit class but tried 1 WOD at the Healthy Living Summit this year. I was SO sore from crossfit, and thought that I got a GREAT workout from those 5 min BUT I know that I will not be a regular. Like you lifting heavy just isn’t my thing, and although they change it up everyday (which I love) it’s still a huge part of crossfit. I think people who do crossfit have great bodies and are motivated by it which is awesome! It’s just not for me on a regular basis. I’d rather run and do dumbells and spinning. That’s just me though 🙂

  21. Courtney on September 12, 2012 at 11:19 pm

    I love me some CrossFit! It took me a while to get full-board … I did it for a few months, along with running, spin and yoga, then took time off to train for a half marathon. Since Fabruary of this year though, it’s been my true love. Though I do Spin and Yoga sometimes, too. But now, as an intern and Assistant Coach now, it really is my lifestyle, and I wouldn’t have it any other way! The movements I’ve mastered, the butterfly pull up, handstand push ups, the Oly lifts, it’s incredibly empowering. I am stronger now, not just physically, but mentally. CrossFit prepares you for the unknowable and the unknown, to be the best at anything. We pride ourselves on perfect form over speed for newbies; and you are a newbie, I don’t care how many half marathons you’ve run or how many lunges you can do holding 5 pound dumb bells, it’s amazing how many “fit” people have zero midline stability, which is why they all look a little rocky and rough around the edges performing a lot of the movements in the beginning.

    I haven’t done an “ab workout” in over a year, but have the most rockin’ core EVA thanks to those Oly lifts! The snatch is a TOTAL BODY BURNER! 🙂

  22. Corrie Anne on September 13, 2012 at 12:42 am

    I kind of DIY some Crossfit workouts, and that works for me for now!! I also prefer using kettlebells!

  23. Lauren on September 13, 2012 at 9:57 am

    Thanks for the honest review…I myself just have no desire to drink the Crossfit Kool Aid. I almost felt that i SHOULD because it’s such the in thing right now. And then I realized that making myself do a work out just because it was popular, when I really had no desire to, was just silly! There’s almost a kind of peer pressure that can develop in the fitness/blog world to always find the BEST new work out…but I realized, as you said, that its about what works for each person. And for me, I’ll stick to my own weight training and cardio routine that *I* enjoy 🙂

  24. Allison on September 13, 2012 at 11:33 am

    I do get why people love cross fit. It encourages you to push yourself and it is a great feeling to accomplish something you haven’t before. That said, everyone I know who has done cross fit has gotten injured. Now, I am older than you. I am talking about men and women in their late 30’s/early 40’s. But every single person I know who has done it has ended up injured. One friend keeps going back because he loves it, but every time he ends up injured and has to take months off. Now, I pretty much just mock him when he talks about it. I have done some cross fit, but I guess I don’t really understand the goal. Just push yourself really, really hard? For some people, you do get great results, but you can get those same results by just lifting heavy weights on a program that doesn’t require you to just go without thought to proper form.

    Just not my thing.

  25. Amy on September 13, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    I am not interested in CrossFit at all. It’s too extreme and while I see the draw to some people, it’s totally not me. That being said, I love a challenge, and wanted to thank you (again) for your Summer Shape Up. I was in a DVD rut and this helped shake things up. I was challenged and sore, but I have a question for you: When I mix the workouts into my routine now, I’m kinda challenged, but not sore. Is this normal? Should I add reps or something? Not saying that I want to be sore, but this has been my gauge of how “hard” I’m working. Thoughts?

  26. Sara on September 14, 2012 at 1:28 am

    I have tried Crossfit, and found the ‘we are the ONLY thing’ attitude to be a bit much, as well as being told that it was all in my head that heavy squats aren’t that good for my particular back.

    Also, as a trainee nutritionist, you don’t want to mention that when getting to know people and talking about ‘what do you do?’ Basically the idea coming from the group was that Crossfit is the only way to train, nobody else knows squat, and science has never discovered anything useful about nutrition either… and I’m like.. yeah, with a few degrees and diplomas under my belt, maybe I have learned a few things, even if it’s my first time in THE BOX. It may just be the group I came across but it all seemed a bit ‘cultish’.

  27. Bek @ Crave on September 15, 2012 at 12:40 am

    I really want to try crossfit- thanks for sharing your experience 🙂

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