What I learned in my first year of Crossfit
This month marks one year since I started Crossfit, so I thought I’d take a look back over the past 12 months and share some of the insights I’ve gained into what I always presumed was a sport for crazy people. If you’ve ever thought about trying Crossfit, or weight/strength training, or any sport for that matter, these lessons might help you feel better about taking the plunge.
1. Whatever you do, just start
I had been thinking about trying Crossift for a while. I had my first taste of the sport in July 2013 but it wasn’t until April 2015 that I joined a Crossfit affiliate (Crossfit Dubbo). In between that time I was planning a wedding, building a house, running workshops and helping my husband establish his business, so the timing never felt right. Early last year a friend and I decided we wanted to give Crossfit a red-hot go to see what all the fuss was about. However, just as the timing hadn’t been right for me since 2013, the timing never seemed to suit my friend. So, we decided I would go and she would come when she could. A year later my friend still hasn’t been to Crossfit, so I’m glad I didn’t wait any longer! Like anything in life, procrastination kills inspiration – but that doesn’t mean you can’t get it back! So if you’re feeling something, go with it! Chances are it will lead to great things.
2. Crossfit’s reputation is only sorta kinda accurate
Crossfitters don’t really do crazy shit (not all of them anyway), but the shit some of them can do is crazy. And it’s not a cult, though they can display cult-like tendencies. No one screams at you and no one forces you to push beyond what you’re physically capable of (though you’ll be surprised by what you can achieve), because safety is paramount.
3. Quality and technique over quantity
A lot of people get hung up on not being able to lift as much as the other people in the box (i.e. the gym), or run as fast, or do strict pull ups or handstand push ups straight away. However, you’ve got to get technique en point first so that you can lift more sooner, run faster next time, and continually improve your gymnastic abilities. Personally, I have found the strength components of Crossfit the most challenging, but since the beginning I always prefer to stay at a level where I can maintain good technique rather than compromise it (and my safety) for a few extra kilos. I remember when I started thinking, “If I’m going to be doing the crazy shit that Crossfitters do, then I am going to make sure I do it right!” (Now see point 2 again for reassurance.)
4. Consistency is key
I started out attending three Crossfit sessions a week – Monday, Wednesday, Friday. Working out three times a week seemed reasonable, and that’s what I’d been doing before. I didn’t go to a gym, I just walked or went for a jog, or did a 12-minute BodyRock workout in my ‘home gym’. I’d never seen results as fast as I did with Crossfit though. When a new inspirational sign went up at the box, there was one line in particular that struck a chord with me, and it was about consistency. I had seen results, but I wanted more. I knew if I wanted more I’d have to put in more. You can’t keep doing what you’re doing and expect the results to be any different. So I started going four times a week: Monday, Wedesday, Friday and Saturdays. That’s when I really started noticing a difference, and others did too. These days I tend to go 5 – 6 times a week. See point 7 as to why.
5. You won’t get big and bulky
This is a common fear by many women when they start lifting weights or doing any form of strength training. However, it takes years and years to build muscle. What will likely happen is that you will “tone up”, not “bulk up”. Toning, after all, is just gaining muscle while losing fat, which is what will happen when you do Crossfit. It is the perfect combination of strength and cardio that will allow you to make the most efficient gains in your overall fitness and physique goals. You will be surprised at just how high you can get your heart rate up by lifting weights alone.
6. Don’t get hung up on a number on the scales
As a former anorexic, you’d think I’d freak out every time I see the number on the scales increase. However, I am now the heaviest I have ever been (approx 60kg) but can fit into clothes that I were too small for me a year ago, can do everyday mundane things better than ever (#worldsbestgrocerybagcarrier), and feel physically better and more toned than I ever have. Weight is only one indicator of health and fitness. There is so much more too it that than a number on the scales.
7. Don’t hold back. You’re not cheating anyone but yourself
If there was ever a time when I cut corners in a WOD, didn’t do RX when I knew I could have, didn’t count my number of reps properly, that was when I’d walk away from the box thinking, “I could have done better”. When you go to Crossfit, there’s something about it that makes you want to give it your all. You’re only there for one hour and what you can achieve in that time is pretty powerful if you use your time wisely, and if you’re committed and efficient. There’s nothing better than leaving the box knowing you did your absolute best, even if there are others who lifted more, did more reps, or timed it faster than you. They’re not you, and only you can do what you can do.
7. It’s addictive
When there are so many toxic things that are addictive, it’s nice to have an addiction you know is doing you good. From the physical improvements to the enhanced mental stamina to the widened network of friends, there will be more than just one thing that keeps you coming back to Crossfit. Now, see point 1 again!