A few things…
My blog today is for all the new faces around, I know you all have the same doubts and fears so here are a few things to shed light on the next few months.
When I started CrossFit, I was already a personal trainer, but I realised how out of shape I was and how much more there was in the word ‘fitness’.
If you chat to one of the older members they will probably describe a very similar experience. In reality most of us come to the same realizations after a couple of months of training, and if you look online there are many articles describing similar journeys.
Joshua Brown is a New York-based financial advisor and regular contributor to CNBC. In July of last year he summarised what many CrossFitters go through in a great article that I’d like to share with you….
The 10 Things That Will Happen When You Begin CrossFit
Here are the first few things that will happen:
- You will find out how truly out of shape you are. It is likely that your first few sessions at a CrossFit gym will consist of stretching and basic instruction. You will likely sweat like a pig and require numerous breaks to catch your breath even during this relatively easy phase (For the record I almost puked with baseline!). This is because you are engaging and stretching muscles that have been dormant for years. You will also be sucking at the air for every molecule of oxygen you can get. It will be a week or two before your lungs are really open, prepare to gasp like a newborn taking its very first breath.
- You will realize how fat you and other regular people are compared to real athletes. This is because your instructors will have the physiques of comic book superheroes. You will weigh 40% more than them but they will be somewhere between 50 and 150% stronger than you. It will make no sense that such “little” guys and girls are that much more powerful than you; it’ll be rather disorienting. The instructors are not huge or freakishly jacked like traditional bodybuilders, but I wouldn’t want to bet against them in any contests of strength. The idea is to be able to lift heavy weights but in as efficient a manner as possible, and then to be able to run a mile while the old school body builder huffs and puffs behind you. And you, big guy/girl, are not strong. You are fat and incidentally may be able to lift some weight up. You will learn about real strength very soon.
- You will get insanely good at counting. Everything in CrossFit is about reps: 20 clean & jerks followed by 10 box-jumps topped off with 30 sit-ups, then repeat five times and compete for time. Think about the counting, the counting down, the mental division of large quantities of reps into small, more manageable-seeming blocks. “Okay, let me get five more then take a breath and then just three more and then only two sets left until I’m three fifth’s of the way through the five rounds.” This is the kind of conversation you’re carrying on with yourself in the heat of the W.O.D. and you’ll become very proficient at counting backward as well – “seven more…six, five more, c’mon, four…” Whatever it takes to get you through.
- You will gain weight at first. The most frustrating part of my first month at CrossFit was the weight gain. Simply stated, because you are using muscles that have been out of the game for years, you will be building those muscles rather rapidly, and muscle weighs more than fat. So while you will definitely be shedding water weight puffiness and sweating like you’ve been on a scavenger hunt in a rainforest, the scale will be ticking up not down. This will drive you f***ing crazy. And then, all of a sudden, you will hit that tipping point where the muscle you’ve been adding is burning enough calories each night to have you start to drop pounds. Then you’ll start to see your clothes fit better and your face shrink. All downhill from here provided you keep going.
- You’ll notice an uptick in energy, even when you’re dead sore from CrossFitting. This new-found energy bounce comes from the fact that you’re dragging less fat around with you all day and you’re breathing easier. You’re putting less wear and tear on your cardiovascular and pulmonary systems and the dividend is you can keep up with your kids and accomplish more each day. The confidence and happiness that comes along with this is self-explanatory. Wait til you see the little and unexpected ways in which these peripheral benefits creep into your daily routine at home and at work!
- You will learn about your mental weakness. My box, CrossFit Lighthouse, posts the Workout of the Day on their website each morning. Three weeks in, once I had learned all the various exercises, I found myself hitting up the site and deciding based on what the W.O.D. was whether or not I was going to attend that day. One day I logged on and saw that there were 3 sets of 20 burpees included, which immediately triggered an inner dialog that went something like this: “I just did burpees on Tuesday and I’m still sore, maybe tonight will be my rest night and I’ll go tomorrow and Friday instead.” I realized that I was picking and choosing the workouts like they were on an a la carte menu, “I’ll do this but I’m skipping that because my ankle is acting up.” Once I realized this about myself, I stopped going to the site. I learned what a bitch I could be, and then I learned to deny myself the opportunity going forward. This is one example of many revelatory moments that have allowed me to get to know myself much better and make the appropriate adjustments.
- You will learn a lot about your mental toughness. You will find that you barely knew yourself at all before beginning this adventure. That you didn’t have a clue about what really made you tick, your own elemental motivations and desires. In the heat of battle, when your head is soaked in sweat and there is nothing but the clanging of metal and the grunting of others around you, you will reach inside of yourself and go to that next level. When you realize that you are 80% of the way through a particularly punishing workout, you will dig deep and find what you need to get through to the other side. It’s there, and maybe you haven’t had to access it in years – decades – but when you finally do…my god. There is an apotheosis underway. And on the other side of an experience like that (or a series of them), you are a lot less hesitant to step into the breach. You have gained a knowledge (or in some cases, a remembrance) of yourself and what you’re capable of. I pity the person, in life or in business, who dares to face off against you once this has taken place. It won’t be fair to them in the least.
To conclude, again Joshua words perfectly describe my thoughts (I am so freaking jealous of this guy’s writing skills… I still need subtitles to be understood!)
“In my first 6 months of CrossFit, I came to grips with who I truly was, how unfit I was and what kind of impact a steady and compounding list of physical achievements could have on my daily life.”
I ’d found a new addiction, something that both takes everything from me – physically, emotionally and mentally – and then gives me back even more than I had before. Today I’m a coach, I
’m on the other side but my desire remains the same: keep getting better at it.