We Tried It: CrossFit

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By: , – Martha Edwards, That's Fit
6/22/2011 10:00 PM   :  44 comments   :  12,888 Views

See More: fitness, that's fit,
"Let's try this," the email from my roommate said. Attached was a Groupon deal that was certainly intriguing -- 20 CrossFit classes for $20 at a studio quite close to where I live. And considering I'd been interested in trying CrossFit already, the deal was too good turn down.

I first heard about CrossFit from my friend, an avid CrossFitter who went from a muffin top (her words, not mine) to a six-pack. Seeing her dedication -- and her crazy before and after photos -- inspired me to get with the program and give it a whirl.

Now, let's preface this by saying that while I'm certainly not any sort of athlete, I'm no slouch when it comes to fitness, either. I work out about four or five times every week, splitting my time between Bodypump, Ripped and yoga classes for strength, and a couple of sessions a week of spin and running for cardio. I also walk at least an hour every day when the weather's nice. I've done my share of push-ups, lunges and crunches over the years, so I'll admit it: Although I fully expected CrossFit to be a challenge, I figured I'd have a bit of an upper hand over the other beginners. I thought I would hit the ground running, so to speak.

I thought wrong.

My first CrossFit session made my regular workouts seem like a trip to Disneyland. I felt like I'd never worked out a day in my life -- I was sweating and gasping and shaking and -- I kid you not -- I had trouble walking for four days after.

So here's what I've learned about CrossFit thus far: The intent is not to kill you, but mark my words: You're going to wish you were dead.

The classes, from my understanding, go like this: You're given a WOD (workout of the day), which usually consists of a few sets of many reps of three to six deceptively difficult exercises. It's your job to finish them as fast as you can without compromising your form.

At first, the WOD seems simple enough -- a few dozen pull-ups (although most of the people in the class can't actually do them, so we had to do these jumping pull-ups using our arm strength to get our chin about the bar), a few dozen walking lunges (while holding large weights above your head), a few dozen wall balls (in which you throw a 14-pound medicine ball 5 feet above your head and squat to catch it), and a few dozen dead lifts or squats with an intimidating amount of weight. The exercises don't have to be complicated, either; One class I went to simply consisted of alternating between 12 squats, 12 push-ups and 12 sit-ups as hard as you could for 20 minutes.

It sounds totally doable, right? Do it. I dare you. Then see how easy you think it is. Especially with a hard-core instructor shouting at you for not going low enough or not trying hard enough. You're going to sweat, and you're probably going to feel like you're going to puke. But here's the thing: You're probably going to feel great afterward (and maybe for more reasons than pure relief).

So if it hurts so much, why do I continue to do it? Like most of us, I'm the type of person who finds motivation in little victories. I walked into my first CrossFit class barely able to lift the very bar that I was supposed to be putting the weights onto, a girl who could hardly finish the exercises and who had to be constantly chided for losing her form. And after a few weeks of giving it my best effort, I can honestly say that it hasn't really gotten easier. But there has been one major change: I've gotten better at it. I no longer collapse on the ground in a heaping, gasping, sweaty mess -- sure, I'm wiping sweat off my forehead, but at least I have enough breath to be able to tell the newbie next to me that yes, it does gets better. In fact, I even managed to do the WOD faster than anyone in my (coed!) class over the weekend, and I didn't even do that little cheaty thing I sometimes do where I start to count by twos once I'm near the end. I've made some progress, and it feels pretty good.

So here's my advice to you: If you're on the fence about trying it, I think you should. It won't be easy, but it's worth a shot. If it's not for you, that's OK. But maybe it is and you deserve the chance to find out.

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Comments

  • 44
    I was so intimidated by crossfit, in fact, I had anxiety walking into class for the first two weeks. But once my husband got me in the door I loved it. The instructors really care about your form not how fast you can do the WOD and theres a comradery amongst your fellow crossfitters that can't be found at the gym. Everyone really should try it at least once! - 6/6/2014   9:10:53 AM
  • 43
    I like to think of my CrossFit workouts as my "play time". I love the never ending variety of workouts and different types of exercises.
    Don't be intimidated to give it a try. All exercises are scalable. The goal is for everyone to make a workout that is challenging for you. No one will judge you for not being able to be the workout as prescribed (most people can't do them as prescribed) and everyone is very supportive each other.
    The best WODs are the ones that look deceptively easy but leave you in a pool of sweat. - 9/11/2011   12:02:22 PM
  • 42
    I seen a sign that said a CrossFit gym was coming soon to my area. I can't wait!! - 7/3/2011   9:10:25 AM
  • 41
    I'd try it even as unfit as I am now I would try it if I knew where there were local classes. - 7/2/2011   9:26:39 PM
  • 40
    I'm all for exercise and for a fitness geek it sounds just fine. BUT, if it isn't FUN it isn't motivating. Thats how I got to where I am, avoiding just this kind of exercise. to keep myself motivated I keep looking for activities that will keep me moving, sweating, breathing hard and make me smile. Just my two cents... - 6/27/2011   2:05:56 PM
  • 39
    Not interested in what sounds like a 'drill' running PT.
    That is not a way I am encouraged or motivated - could even trigger a reversal of my progress. - 6/27/2011   1:09:21 AM
  • 38
    YIKES ! I purchased a Groupon for 5 CrossFit sessions for $25 but now I'm afraid to use it ! - 6/26/2011   7:01:24 PM
  • 37
    Not for me. Too many health problems. But "to each his own, said the old woman as she kissed the cow". - 6/26/2011   4:26:27 PM
  • 36
    I love Crossfit!!! - 6/25/2011   11:34:09 PM
  • 35
    I have been doing Crossfit for over a year now. I love it- high intensity, ever changing workouts- functional movement! - 6/25/2011   10:39:52 PM
  • 34
    I haven't tried it, but my daughter just loves it and continues to go back for more! - 6/25/2011   12:53:50 PM
  • 33
    I started CrossFit about three months ago and the best change I've seen so far is how much I look forward to working out every day. Yes, I'm stronger. Yes, my body has changed (you should see my arms!). Yes, I've lost weight, but the camaraderie and the friendly encouragement has been the best part. I love that seeing the WOD on the board always fills me with dread, but then I do it (not with the fastest times). I may collapse in a heap at the end of it, but I do it. I have walked away from a workout only once. I would, and have, encourage everyone to at least give CF a try. - 6/24/2011   11:57:40 PM
  • TJBLEEKER
    32
    I have been doing Crossfit for just over 2 years now. I was with my first box for 2 years and just joined my new place a week ago.

    I am stronger than I have ever been and still have so much more room for improvement. Each WOD is unique and I never know what Iíll be doing that day until I step in and see whatís on the whiteboard. I often have to modify, but have seen tremendous gains over the years. Started with jumping pull-ups, then pull-ups with big band and now working my way down to smaller and smaller bands and can do a few kipping pull-ups unassisted.

    One of the things I really love is that most of what we do in Crossfit is all you Ė your body strength Ė push-ups, air squats, Olympic lifting, etc.

    I love my new place in particular because there is a great, supportive community and I look forward to seeing them in the morning. I am often amazed when I finish a workout, but have never not finished. I never finish first, but I finish!

    I must love it, because I never get bored and Iím getting up early enough to do it at 5:30 am.

    For those wanting to try it, donít be intimidated. Give it a try. It can be scaled to anyoneís abilities. Youíll work hard and be so proud.
    - 6/24/2011   10:36:30 AM
  • 31
    It reminds me of some of my mornings in the military. - 6/24/2011   9:14:04 AM
  • 30
    Boy, this brings back memories! There is a FREE community workout each Saturday where I live and I tried it last year. We did a lot of deep squats, and like the author, I could barely walk for at least 4 days afterwards. I knew this was not for me, even though you "start where you are" on the fitness level. I would have to get into a LOT better shape just to TRY the workouts again, and even though age shouldn't matter, I've decided to leave CrossFit to the young college students and aim for other fitness goals for myself. - 6/24/2011   3:36:26 AM
  • 29
    I started doing CrossFit about 6 months ago when my trainer left the gym to go work at a CrossFit location. I can honestly say, the first time I saw photos of CrossFit training, I was a bit hesitant and told him the pictures scared me, lol. But, now I can honestly tell you I am hooked on CrossFit training now...I can't imagine training at a normal gym anymore. - 6/23/2011   9:43:29 PM
  • ABURNS2012
    28
    Cross Fit scares me because I work with many people who used to Cross Fit and ended up with a lot of injuries from the types of activities they have you do. I am not willing to let someone else hurt me because they are pushing me further than I'm willing to go. Exercise is about respecting yourself. - 6/23/2011   6:46:37 PM
  • 27
    Sounds like torture to me! - 6/23/2011   4:20:07 PM
  • 26
    No way I could do this! But good for you! - 6/23/2011   1:41:04 PM
  • 25
    I've been working out with a CrossFit trainer for over a year. I have asthma so everything is scaled for me. I love it. This is the longest I've stuck with any type of fitness regime. My 70-year old parents go too! They love it and never miss. They don't do the same WOD's as I do, but this is the most active they've been in years. - 6/23/2011   11:17:34 AM
  • 24
    LOL, I just bought a 6 session package through Groupon. I had been wanting to try it, and what better way than with a Groupon. I hope I don't die...............I am really looking forward to it. - 6/23/2011   11:13:04 AM
  • 23
    I've been wanting to try it! When I see a Groupon, think I'll get it! - 6/23/2011   10:14:51 AM
  • 22
    I tried Cross fit for about a month. Like any other gym/exercise routine, it had pros and cons. The best thing is that it is an excellent workout! You will sweat, breathe hard and challenge yourself. Also, it teaches you that you don't need fancy equipment to get a great workout - the toughest exercises are also the simplest. The con is that they place a lot of emphasis on low squats which hurt my knees. I love to run, and I don't want to get a knee injury, so that was a real downer for me. Also, I found CrossFit to be more expensive that other gyms in my area. And - you have to go to a class which means you have to follow the class schedule - you can't just show up anytime for a workout, like at a regular gym. While the instructors were very helpful, encouraging and friendly, I found the admin details and cost to be a real nuisance. However - each CrossFit gym is managed a little differently. If you can find a CrossFit gym you like which is affordable, there is no better workout! - 6/23/2011   9:59:33 AM
  • CMB113
    21
    Would love it try a class! - 6/23/2011   9:56:50 AM
  • 20
    I love a new challenge - would probably try it - 6/23/2011   9:48:08 AM
  • 19
    Just a warning - my sister did Crossfit and she thought the workout was great, at least in the beginning. However, the trainers were either not properly trained or were not being vigilant about making sure that the students were maintaining the proper form because she ended up dislocating her shoulder when the trainer made her do a bunch of 25 lb lifts. She also said that the environment was very competitive, which she also liked at first because that is her personality, but it also made her become obsessed with the whole thing. Many of the classmates were also incorporating extreme dieting along with the workouts. After her injury, she went back to her old gym to a much better trainer and now feels like she has the balance back in her life. - 6/23/2011   9:23:48 AM
  • 18
    I would love to try it but no place around where I live offers the classes. I've seen people doing it at the gym on their own but I'd love to try it. - 6/23/2011   9:17:48 AM
  • 17
    I didn't even know that this existed. I think this is great and can keep me from Boredom. Great blog post!! - 6/23/2011   9:16:25 AM
  • 16
    I've been tempted to try it. Now I'm scared witless to try it! Thanks a lot! LOL. I kid. I do still want to try it. Right now, I can't even get through 3 circuits of Banish Fat Boost Metabolism without dying. I need to up my endurance just a little before they kill me at CrossFit! Plus, I can't currently afford fitness classes. But it's on my to-do list! Great article! Thanks for telling it like it is! - 6/23/2011   8:55:23 AM
  • 15
    I started Crossfit 4 months ago, and its funny because i went into it my first day the same way you did. Confident. I had been working out regularly for over a year at the time and was an avid runner, P90Xer and body pumper. I thought, i am in pretty good shape, i will do great. WRONG!!
    One class and i felt completely out of shape, but i kept going back.
    This is the one program where i look forward to each new WOD and i barely miss a day. The progress i have made these past 4 months has been so rewarding. I am stronger than ever before and every WOD i surprised myself more and more.
    LOVE CROSSFIT! - 6/23/2011   8:53:14 AM
  • 14
    The bootcamp/crossfit that I attend is the toughest workout I've ever done. And my favorite. Look forward to every grueling class. Sounds like the same type as described. He really mixes it up, forces you to do your best at every exercise. I would NEVER work this hard on my own. We motivate each other and the small group that have been attending for a long time have become good friends. A lot of people try it and don't come back, I think because they expect it to be easier. I'm no expert but suggest that these classes aren't for those that are beginning. I suspect that injury risk would be very high for those that aren't already in pretty good shape. Also suggest that beginners might suffer a loss of motivation after attending one of these classes. - 6/23/2011   7:42:15 AM
  • STACIBUK
    13
    I would love to try this out! Sounds like so much fun - 6/23/2011   5:59:57 AM
  • 12
    Crossfit sounds like another take on the newly and hugely popular HIIT training, which I'm all for. If one enjoys going to the gym and has a good (!) trainer who keeps an eye on the class, injury potential should remain at a minimum with max benefits. I do not like going to the gym, nor do I like paying for pain (and don't even get me started on workouts that make you "feel like you're going to puke"! Eeeeeew!), so I'm with Kismet on the BodyRocking movement: it's one hell of a great time and very effective! One caveat: don't get caught up in the "more is better" mindset when you work out at home; instead, pay EXTRA attention to your form. Speed will come on its own as you improve. - 6/23/2011   5:00:40 AM
  • 11
    I've never heard of it, but my adult children do the P90X work out with Tony Horton and that is done at home, so they just had the cost of the original DVD's and the weights they bought. My 23 yos has lost 30# going from 222# to 192# and gaining a lot of muscle. I know there are a lot of programs that have taken off of Tony Horton. - 6/23/2011   4:02:32 AM
  • GRACEANAQAH
    10
    Maybe I will try this in the distant future...I just started my 2nd week of Body for Life and that is good for me right now...but I am up to try new things and challenges :) - 6/23/2011   3:20:49 AM
  • CHALKONTHEBAR
    9
    LOVE CrossFit!! Most boxes (gyms) tend to adjust to fit your ability, so don't get discouraged if you cant do EVERYTHING the first day. (Trust me, I cant do pull ups - and they have bands to help, or you can just do what you can) JUST TRY!!

    The object is to make yourself better over time. So when you do your WODs now, then look back on your WOD book 6 months later you can see the difference. Not to do it as fast, or what was said above. Its about making YOUR best, BETTER!

    I'm totally addicted (and only after a week). Every day the work outs are different, (Literally, we did one that our trainer said she hadn't seen in a year) so its never boring. I ended up going back to my regular gym for some regular plain cardio, I jumped on the Arc Trainer after not touching it after a month and felt SO much stronger on my old workouts I could feel the difference! I KNOW had I touched it with out CrossFit, I wouldn't have busted through it so fast & so hard. So if your on the fence - JUST GO. You will be so surprised. - 6/23/2011   2:19:08 AM
  • 8
    I've never heard of this. I think I'd like to give it a whirl. I'm moving to central Texas in a couple of weeks maybe I can find it somewhere then. - 6/23/2011   1:40:11 AM
  • 7
    I have heard about it but honestly have been on the fence. This report is actually kind of encouraging. Like the author I too work out pretty much 3-5 times a week. However I have been wondering on changing up a little and trying something different. I am going to have to see if there is a class in my area. - 6/23/2011   12:37:48 AM
  • 6
    I could have written this. I've been doing Crossfit for a few months now and it's incredibly tough but so awesome. I've done things I never thought I could do. Anyone who enjoys a real challenge should try it
    - 6/22/2011   11:47:29 PM
  • 5
    My husband and daughter love Crossfit! My daughter just became a Certified Crossfit Trainer and I told her once she did I would try it....I guess my time has come. Sounds intimidating but I'll give it a try. My husband has been doing it for over a month and the results are amazing. - 6/22/2011   11:45:04 PM
  • 4
    One of my very good friends does Crossfit and encouraged me to look into it in training for my first triathlon. I did my research and thought "why in the world would I want to pay to just get WODs?"... Thus, I discovered BodyRock.tv... and I'm totally in love. I think it's probably just as challenging as Crossfit 'cause I'm reading the workouts that my friend does and I do not feel intimidated at all... we do the same kind of things in fun, never-boring, non-repetitious routines with cute names. It's run by a husband and wife duo, they're expanding, and I've never felt better in my life.
    Granted, I'm still nowhere near where I want to be right now, BUT I have no doubts I'll get there. I've never sweat so much in my life!!!
    Minimal equipment required (interval -- or tabata -- timer, dip station, occasional pullups, and sandbag) with easy substitutes if the equipment is unavailable, plus plenty of backlogged bodyweight-only exercises.

    OH!!! I left out the best part -- IT'S TOTALLY FREE!!! - 6/22/2011   11:09:25 PM
  • REDSHOES2011
    3
    Finishing as fast as possible without compromising form is a recipe for injuries.. It ain't even about this way of training to get results.. - 6/22/2011   10:51:49 PM
  • 2
    I did a sample Crossfit class last summer when my son was still in his car seat bucket and LOVED it. But they don't have childcare, a toddler around hundreds of pounds of flying weight plates isn't good for him, although it is for me. - 6/22/2011   10:43:07 PM
  • BIFFOBOPPO
    1
    I just love Crossfitting, but the article left out one really important feature. Many Crossfit clubs are very social and you come to do the WOD at about the same time most of the time and so you can work out with others who are at about the same fitness level as you- it gets competitive and FUN and you HATE to miss. Everyone wants to see who does the most in the allotted time or who finished first or whatever. You wind up digging a lot deeper than you would have on your own. - 6/22/2011   2:51:42 PM

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