What I like about CrossFit and Why It's Good For You
CrossFit is a fitness phenomenon – ‘constantly varied, high intensity, functional movement’ – but what does this really mean? Well, as someone who had never heard of it until 2 years ago and is now a L1 qualified CrossFit coach, I thought I’d share my learnings with you and why I enjoy it so much.
Basically, if you want to be an all-round fit person with muscles for using rather than just posing with and if you find yourself getting bored with the same old gym routines or fitness classes than CrossFit is for you.
Functional fitness means doing moves you would complete in everyday life. Ever seen anyone do a dumbbell curl in their day to day life that isn’t just lifting a glass of beer? Think about it – when do you ever pick anything up like that?? Then think about picking up your shopping bags…that’s a deadlift. you might not believe it me but its only after I learnt how to clean and jerk that I managed to flip my bed mattress by myself! Not sure what any of these terms are – doesn’t matter! All that matters is that the movements you do in CrossFit are movements that you do in everyday life – you’ll just be learning to do them better. (you can watch a slightly boring but useful video here which shows you the basic movements – don’t worry any good gym will give you a 121 intro to make sure you’re comfortable learning them all)
No two classes are the same, there’s a great sense of community and genuinely, you will get much fitter than you currently are. How can I be so sure? Well…
What's a CrossFit Class Like?
A class will generally involve an initial part of focusing on a particular weight movements or skill – the focus is on being safe so you don’t add weights until you can demonstrate that you are proficient in a movement first before moving into the second part of the class which is the work out. These are usually a set of difference exercises which you need to complete as quickly as you can or it might be you need to repeat them as many times as possible in a time frame. So what’s so great? Where’s the magic? Let me explain…
In the skills section you see people progressing. I never thought I would be able to do pull ups, head stand push ups, snatch or even attempt a muscle up but these are all now things I’ve progressed on to. And its such an amazing feeling as a coach to see a 46 year old mum of 3 complete her first squat clean.
You see individually how you can lift more and become more efficient in a movement and its such a great feeling. The focus is not on how you look but how you feel and how you perform.
As for the work out part – I’ve never been in another exercise class where I’ve had the whole room cheering me on the complete my last set of squats before the time cap hits. This is the magic – if you’re super-fast and complete a work out miles ahead of everyone else – chances are you can add more weight to the bar which means the next time you go you might be the slowest in the group. But if you’re last, everyone encourages you. This is also why no workout is ever easy! You keep progressing and honing your skills. I’ve never ended a workout before literally on all fours gasping for breath and feeling so awe full and amazing all at the same time! This is why you get such a sense of achievement (and such an endorphin high!)
Do you have to be really fit to join CrossFit? Will I make friends at CrossFit?
Success and effort are celebrated in CrossFit gyms more than any other I’ve been to and the sense of community is uplifting. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing as long as you’re doing your best and you’re doing it right. No one cares if you can deadlift 10kg, 100kg or 200kg, all that matters is if you’re doing it safely and that you’re pushing yourself.
Yes ok – there’s a lot of high-fiving in some gyms and it can be seen as a bit cultish but frankly – its a team I’d rather be part of rather than just stood on the outside feeling less healthy and looking in on. So try it before you knock it.
I used to wander into a spin class, sit on my bike, peddle when I was told to and then leave as soon as it finished. I may give a cursory hi and a bit of small talk to my neighbour on the next bike but that was it. There was no real opportunity to get to know the other people there and build relationships. CrossFit is different, because you have the 20min session at the start working on a move you could be sharing a bar bell with another people, taking it in turns to practice and chatting as you go, really getting to know the other members and becoming part of the community.
Will CrossFit make me fitter?
YES! The reason you get fitter and stronger – because there’s no shirking a movement you don’t want to do. I used to go to classes I liked and do press ups and sit ups in the gym because I’m good at them. I avoided triceps dips or attempting pull ups but with CrossFit, you don’t know what the workout will be in advance so when you go there, you just have to get on with it. And this means you work your entire body – all the muscles you didn’t know existed get used and you develop. No one likes wall balls (throwing a medicine ball to a target on the wall – it’s exactly as bad as it sounds) but we all do it because the make us stronger and fitter. There’s no picking and choosing of the moves you do and don’t want to do in CrossFit – it’s just get on with it and be better for it as a result.
And that’s it – that’s what makes me return time and time again – genuine progression, a focus on performance and skill with successes celebrated in a community of like-minded people even on the workouts you think you don’t want to do because these give you best sense of achievement. What a great way to start or end a day. I highly recommend trying it! And that’s it – that’s what makes me return time and time again – genuine progression, a focus on performance and skill with successes celebrated in a community of like-minded people even on the workouts you think you don’t want to do because these give you best sense of achievement. What a great way to start or end a day. I highly recommend trying it!
Finally…if you’re looking to really make the most of your performance, then please ensure you manage your diet effectively. How you fuel your body is key. Also, if you want, get your own equipment to practice, practice and practice…You won’t get those double unders’ skipping without your own rope you know! Click here for information about managing macronutrients.
If you want to get better, buy your own. Make sure its the right length for you and get practicing. Start with a really basic one as a beginner and work your way onto a speed rope. Personally, I use the BeastGear rope on the right here, I like the weight of this one and how easily it is to adjust it without having to actually cut it. As someone who’s only 5′ 2″ being able to shorten them is key and I’ve just never got on with with screw end ropes.
So yes this is more of an investment but it does make a difference. Metcon shoes have less bounce than your usual running shoes and in a workout which can have you running between box jumps, wall balls and deadlifts in a (elevated!) heartbeat, you want an all round shoe. Having a more solid and flat base is key for enabling you to lift heavy weights in a deadlift, front squats etc. I have the Reeboks.