Clean and jerk.
If you’re thinking I’ve lost it and started spouting off “dirty” slang terms, then you don’t know CrossFit.
Neither do I, really, but I was curious enough about it to sign my husband and I up for an intro class.
To be honest, I tried CrossFit once a few years ago. It was a good workout, but not what I was used to and I remember thinking it a bit boring because the workout consisted of repeating the same exercise for up to five minutes at a time.
Repetition like that isn’t really my style, I get bored and lose interest if my mind isn’t constantly stimulated. (A good reason why I struggle with distance running.)
But over the years, I’ve evolved and it seems so has CrossFit. I started seeing and hearing more about some of the training styles and exercises and I admit, I was intrigued. The workouts seemed grueling in a different way than the type of “bodybuilding” I’ve been doing for the last couple years.
(I have also learned a lot more about functional training, and the benefits of working out using multi-linear and multi-joint movements. In english: more like the way our bodies actually move through life. We use multiple joints, muscles and movements all at the same time.)
CrossFit comes with a bit of a reputation, so I admit I was somewhat cynical walking into class.
As I looked around the room I immediately noticed the equipment: olympic style rings hanging from the ceiling, row machines, huge wooden boxes, and bars set up almost like a jungle gym.
The next thing I noticed was the people. Talk about some fit, tight, ripped people. Their bodies were built like athletes, all muscle and not an ounce of fat.
Most of the group was newbies like us, and the lead instructor took time to talk us through some of the fundamentals behind CrossFit, as well as the importance of proper form. They were not intending to just give us an ass kicking. They wanted to be sure people got a good workout, but also a safe one.
We started with a warm-up which demonstrated some of the moves we would be doing in the workout. Things like squats, push-ups and wall balls. I am used to doing these exercises so for me, it was a breeze.
Then we moved on to the “skills” portion of class. We split into groups and an instructor led us through each skill and then let us practice. The different exercises were: thrusters, box jumps, wall walks, and kettlebell swings.
Box jumps, kettlebell swings and thrusters I’ve done before, but it was good to actually have someone explain the proper form for each. These were not too challenging, but I disappointed myself because I couldn’t muster the courage to try a 24 inch box jump. I also struggle with thrusters because my wrists and forearms lack mobility from years of lifting, but one of the instructors assured me she dealt with the same thing and that it would improve over time.
My favorite by far were the wall walks. Let me try to paint the picture for you: starting flat on the ground in a push-up position with your feet against the wall, you push up with your hands as you put one foot up on the wall. Then, walk your feet up the wall as you walk your hands backwards towards it, until your belly is flat against the wall, in a handstand. You then simply walk yourself back down.
Might sound easy, but it definitely isn’t, especially when you do several in a row as fast as you can.
By the time we got to the “WOD” I was having a great time. Trying something new is awesome!
If you are not familiar, WOD stands for “Workout of the Day.” It was similar to the type of interval circuits I do in my Fit Camp classes. Using the skills we had learned, we spent :45 at each station doing as many as possible, then had :15 to move to the next one. It took eight minutes.
Next up was something called “every minute on the minute.” Ours was seven kettlebell swings and two knee-ups on the rings, as fast as you can, then rest for the rest of 1:00. We did this for ten minutes. It was a great workout!
Because I have good core strength and the knee-ups weren’t too much of a challenge, one of the instructors had me try “toes to bar” (except on the rings). Hanging from the rings, you swing with your legs then use your abs to bring your toes up, like you’re trying to put them through the rings. So you end up upside down in a pike position. Loved these! They are definitely something I will be working on to get better and be able to do more in a row.
At the end of class we were sweaty, exhausted, happy and STARVING. In all it was a great experience and I was impressed with the gym and instructors. You could tell it was a positive, motivating community.
CrossFit sometimes get a bad rep for being dangerous, or causing people to get injured, or for it’s somewhat “groupie” like mentality. I am sure all disciplines have their bad apples, but I saw none of that here. It was clear you could progress at your own pace and not take on too much, too soon.
Any activity with repetitive motion can put someone at risk for injury (think swimming and running) so CrossFit is no different. But if done correctly under the supervision of educated, experienced professionals, it can certainly be a great way to challenge your body and get in amazing shape.
I won’t be joining a CrossFit gym anytime soon, but I admit I’ve been googling “WODs” and trying out some of the routines. I’m intrigued by the challenge and want to shake up my body and my training.
You can only grow if you are willing to get out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself in new ways. I’m excited for the opportunity to grow my skill set and maybe even see new changes in my physique!
Is CrossFit all it’s cracked up to be? Don’t knock it ’till you try it.