“When most people sign up for CrossFit, they are tricked into thinking that they are signing up for a workout; for the high-intensity interval training, the heavy lifting, the gymnastics. The perception is that you will walk in, crank up your beast mode, suffer (or endure) a hardcore workout, succeeded by lying on the floor in a pool of sweat, sometimes accompanied by literal blood and tears. For some, this is all that you get. You have failed to explore the opportunities that could be presented to you.
Throughout my year and a half of CrossFit, I have absorbed so much information from showing up to class, learning the movements, doing the workouts. I have improved upon numerous skills and lifts, simply by taking the first step and walking into the box. But what I did not realize, and what many others don’t realize, is that within the walls of the box lies an opportunity to be exposed to so many more things that you were not before, opening up windows and doors that you never noticed before.
The prime added-benefit that you encounter when you join a CrossFit box is the community that comes along with it. No matter how hard you go at it in another gym, you will never experience the closeness and family bonding that goes on at an actual box.
Not only will your fellow athletes become your second family, there are few places that you can do the same workout that the sixth fittest Master’s athlete in the world is doing, alongside the mother of four who is working out before her kids go to school, a chiropractor, nurse, lawyer, student, and sometimes, the unemployed. The box does not discriminate against background, race, social status. Everyone is an equal and everyone understands each other. Outside the box, these are people who you would never share a social circle with, but here, we’re all family.
Paleo.. or not
With CrossFit comes a natural introduction to the paleo lifestyle. Beyond the simplistic definition of eating real food, eliminating grains and sugars, and structuring meals around meats and veggies, paleo expands way further. It was through researching more about the diet that I opted to do a Whole30, which eventually led me to rethink everything I know about food. I discovered fermented foods and bone broth (and an obsession with my slowcooker), and way more about gut health than I ever even heard of before.
I learned about different supplements and using food to my advantage rather than just eating because it tasted good and because you have to eat. It was because of my CrossFit workouts that I chose to start basing my food choices on my performance. My wine consumption has significantly decreased, I no longer live off of pasta and tortilla chips and Chinese food.
What you eat before and after your workout will affect not only your performance, but also your recovery. What is that quote? Abs are made in the kitchen? You put in so much effort in the gym, your food choices should support it.
When a WOD isn’t enough
When I discovered CrossFit, I discovered a love of heavy lifting, and striving for PRs. Over the past 3 months, it has led to my heart being stolen by Olympic lifting. For others it has paved a path to powerlifting or strongman or looking to become more competitive.
People outgrow the traditional CrossFit classes and end up putting in time before or after class to work on skills that are lacking, to attack the “goats.” No longer is just doing the workout enough; you sign up for extra classes to help you improve upon certain skills, and you solicit the help of the coaches for extra work to help you reach that muscle-up goal. You watch endless hours of YouTube videos on progressions and technique. You buy your own jumprope and equip yourself with all of the latest clothing and shoes.
I started listening to endless podcasts to keep up with what is going on in the social world of CrossFit, but also the latest health and fitness trends, and realizing everything I thought I knew about health and fitness is wrong.
More important than the workouts
On top of the training and eating, there is so much more that goes into being successful at CrossFit, that I likely would have never put much emphasis on. With CrossFit comes a need for mobility, and a goal of striving to becoming supple. Through this, I not only have gained a greater interest in yoga, but also developed a relationship with a chiropractor and a sports massage therapist. I have made attempts to reduce stress in my life and to simplify things, though it is a long process.
It was because of CrossFit that I signed up for my first (and last) half-marathon, had the courage to do a Warrior Dash, started swimming lessons, and even gained the confidence to do a photo shoot. CrossFit has completely changed my perception of myself.
It is without a doubt that CrossFit will change you. What happens inside the box never stays inside the box.”
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What have you done that you never have done before CrossFit?
What is one skill that you have spent extra time working on?