CrossFit Training Is an Eye-Opener
As you walk into the Body Shop CrossFit in Aberdeen, you are submerged into a sea of muscle-building machines and bench presses. Grunts and clang of weights compete with the rock music coming from the speakers.
It made me cringe at first and wonder what I had gotten into.
A floating possibility of “let’s do a piece on the CrossFit craze!” had quickly turned into “let’s actually try CrossFit!” I shot fellow intern Sarah Brown a look of horror as we made our way over to the group stretching for our introduction to CrossFit.
Everyone looked like the “after” pictures in weight loss commercials. Tanned, muscular and unbelievably tough. I was wearing a marching band T-shirt — a pastime I still consider to be an athletic activity.
Sarah is much more athletically-inclined. She routinely throws “fun” and “half marathon” into the same sentence.
She had been smiling since we stepped into the gym. I was thinking of creative excuses to bail. ”Did I lock my car?” and “I forgot to feed my fish!” came to mind.
Sarah pulled us forward to meet the manager and get started.
“I haven’t been doing as many handstand walks, I need to work on them,” was the hypothetical scenario East Coast CrossFit manager Holly Weiss said she came up with after touring the nationwide CrossFit competitions.
It was meant to be comforting, saying how competition will improve your drive.
I couldn’t get past the fact she wanted me to walk on my hands. I’m not exactly athletic; I certainly do not walk on my hands.
To me, CrossFit was a bunch of people running down U.S. 1 with medicine balls. The mental image was ex-Marines and bodybuilders … maybe even some ex-cons. Upon walking into East Coast CrossFit, I instead saw normal sized people, older people and even a pregnant woman.
Could CrossFit be for anyone?
The class focuses on functional movements instead of bulking up.
“You’re not going to do a lot of bicep curls in real life. But you will pick things up and lift them, like a dead lift,” says Weiss. That seemed exceptionally practical to me.
Weiss greeted us and ran us through the WOD (workout of the day) we’d be doing — a combo of jump rope and situps. “Jumping rope is easy enough, right?” she asked. Sarah nodded excitedly. I gulped.
After the workout, Weiss explained that CrossFit was unique because of the relative intensity of the workout. “An elite athlete is just as miserable in the workout as a beginner.”
And it is miserable at times. My abdominal muscles wanted to stage a mutiny halfway through the WOD and I was hungry. But a large part of motivation is seeing other people doing it too. Just because the CrossFit vets could do the workout faster and better didn’t mean they were smiling.
Not surprisingly, I finished WOD last. However, that wasn’t upsetting. Everyone clapped and I got high fives from almost everyone. “Great job!” and “first one is the worst, don’t worry,” they enthused. The atmosphere is addictive; I could easily see becoming close with the people there.
“You want to push yourself harder, the energy is amplified,” said Weiss. I agree. I immediately wanted to shave 30 seconds off my WOD time, after taking a nap, of course.
As a beginner, lots of the moves were curtailed to my ability — or lack thereof. Weiss and trainer Ian McIntosh took Sarah and me aside to work on proper weightlifting form before we began. This was a shortened version of the introductory classes new members get.
“Then we start to taper you into to a full CrossFit schedule. You need to build yourself up to going 100 percent every time,” said Weiss.
I just wanted to survive.
While I will not be handstand walking anytime soon, I have a deep appreciation for CrossFit. Who knows, maybe you’ll see me running down U.S. 1 with a medicine ball.
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