How I Survived My First Crossfit Class
Lately I've been a bit of a yes-man for fitness. In the past few months, I've found myself stripping down, contorting into a human pretzel, and braving some serious inner-thigh biker burn, all for the thrill of a new workout. But after checking off so many new feats, there still remains one workout that has always stopped me in my tracks: CROSSFIT. Dun... dun... dun... I don't know if it's the thought of working out next to those beast-mode barbell-slammers who are triple my size, or the fear of making a fool of myself in a sport that I know absolutely nothing about, but the rumors of Crossfit being "cult-like" and making you "ripped" were enough to send me running for the nearest cycling studio instead.
I mean, at first, the thrill of randomly winning a giveaway (for the girl who has the fortune of Bad Luck Brian) had me glistening with confidence. My inner Terrence Bundley reassured me that this wasn't in fact a case of bad luck, but instead, FATE. He told me that I was going to try this new exercise and I was going to fall head over heels in love with it. Because the doors to opportunity were totally opening for me and it was my time to shine.
But fast-forward to the morning of my introductory Fundamentals class, and I felt like I was going to vomit. I was the kind of nervous you get only when you have to speak words in front of large crowds, and the swimmers inside my tummy were all kinds of unsynchronized. Truth be told, I almost chickened out by calling-in sick about 3 times in those 2 hours before the big show. But I put on my big-girl panties and I showed up to Crossfit Dilworth with my curiosity on blast and my deer-in-headlights look on lock.
I walked into the gym and was surprised to find the room pretty empty. I mean sure, there were the usual kettle-bells and unidentified hanging contraptions scattered around, but other than Brandon (our coach), Grace and Tom (the Sweat & Sweets team who thankfully decided to join me for this workout 🙏) and me, it was us vs. ourselves. Therefore no pressure to look like a pro, right? Because as Brandon so assuredly put it, other than Tom's camera (who was filming the entire thing for the social media world), no one else was watching..... 😉
So we jumped right in. Brandon gave us a quick introductory speil then we picked up a barbell and got to work. We went over the air-squat, the front squat, the overhead squat, the deadlift, the sumo deadlift high pull, the snatch, the power clean, the jerk, and my personal favorite... the power jerk (or what I like to call "President Donald Trump"... 😂😂😂 ). And after taking just a few stabs at the exercises, Brandon looked at me and confidently said, "You're a runner, aren't you?" I blushed at what I thought was a compliment to my uber-toned legs, but then I realized he was referencing the limited mobility I have in my front squat form. 😊 He elaborated that unfortunately one of the drawbacks of long-distance running is that you can develop tightness in your hips. And my hips didn't lie because my squat game was WEAK, and Brandon politely reminded me that this was something I "need to work on".
But then we moved on to the upper body movements, and I got my mojo back. I felt confident in my form and I convinced myself that I could actually pass for a Julie Foucher double (total Crossfit lingo...🤙 ) And Grace was totally nailing it to. I'm pretty sure her college swimming skills started to show, because she was making all of this look pretty graceful (pun intended). So we wrapped up the Fundamentals session and excitedly reflected on all that we had learned, when Brandon surprised us with a, "Alright, now it's time to workout".... as if that's not what we had been doing already for the past hour...
So here was the deal. We had 14 minutes of heart-pumping work ahead of us before we could call it a day. And in those 14 minutes, we had to check off as many sets as possible of the following workouts: 250m on the rowing machine, 10 wall ball squats, 5 deadlifts, 5 hang cleans, and 10 box jumps. In my mind: piece of cake, Brandon was taking it easy on the newbies. In reality: holy sh*t, my arms are about to fall off. I clocked about 3 rounds of each of the exercises and while this workout might have been shorter in duration than what I'm used to, it was a power-packed punch that churned up some mighty soreness in my shoulders only a few minutes afterwards.
But before I sprinted for my car as fast as I could to potentially dodge another round of exhaustion, I had a few questions for Brandon that had been burning in my brain:
- "Does everyone know everyone around here?" I was slightly hoping the answer would be no, so that: 1) next time I came I wouldn't stick out like a sore thumb, 2) I could dispel this "cult-like" rumor my friends had been spreading. But Brandon honestly responded with three telling words: "Misery loves company." And then he explained that when you find a group of people that you can work hard and reach new limits with, you will become friends. And when you relate with someone else who is feeling the same brutal burn that only comes from when you knock out 50+ deadlifts in a 15-minute time span, you form this new team of super-human. (I'm paraphrasing here. 😉 )
- "What do you want people to know about Crossfit?" Brandon's response: "Not everyone who steps in this gym is coming straight from the Crossfit Games." And he was totally right, because he had the two cutest pugs running around the room as well... (their favorite move: the power fetch.😜 ) Haha, but on the real, I was surprised to see that the friendly faces working out in this gym were not the incredible hulks I imagined. But instead, they looked totally human and relatable (maybe just a wee bit stronger than me...)
- "Why do you think people become addicted to this sport?" Brandon explained that when it comes to exercise, variance is key. Switching up the movements keeps things fresh and a bit unpredictable. (Aka, if you don't always know the torture lying ahead of you, then you're more likely to come back for more.)
- "Is there any Crossfit etiquette I should be conscious of?" Without a single pause, Brandon replied, "Yes. Barbell slamming is totally normal. In fact, it is encouraged." And then only seconds later, I looked over to see Grace enjoy the most polite, 1-ft. barbell slam I've ever seen. We were officially part of the club.
So there you have it folks. My first experience with Crossfit. And if you've never tried Crossfit or if you also have reservations about this seemingly terrifying sport, I urge you to kick them to the curb. Crossfit Dilworth houses some of the friendliest people this city has to offer and they're gung-ho for getting a sweat in while sharing some laughs along the way. Win-win.
Check out this sick recap video Sweat & Sweets made:
Images and Video via Sweat & Sweets.