CrossFit often gets a bad rap in the fitness world and is often the butt of jokes.
If I’m being totally honest, I also used to poke fun at it without even giving it a chance.
The first exposure I’d had to CrossFit peering over my wife’s shoulder whilst she was live streaming the 2017 CrossFit games and thinking:
“Why are you watching this?
It isn’t real fitness, it’s CrossFit.”
I had been a fitness enthusiast for a number of years by this point and had been a member at various gyms, always striving to get into the best shape possible – lifting weights, excessive amounts of cardio and chugging down protein shakes within 10 minutes of finishing my workout so as not to “lose my gains” or become catabolic.
Having tried all of the hot new fad diets and training protocols, I was becoming increasingly frustrated with trudging (albeit only 200m from my front door) to the local gym.
I was starting to resent “bodybuilding” and it felt like I was throwing weights around with no real purpose other than to not break a habit.
But the truth is that continuing to do with was doing nothing but making me never want to step into a gym again.
It probably didn’t help that the local gym was quite small and uninspiring!
Then, shortly after recovering from minor toe surgery, I decided it was time to mix things up and find a gym that would help me regain the drive and determination.
I had a quick look on Google during my lunch break and saw that there was a CrossFit box (a box is the name given to a gym in the CrossFit world) within a 5-minute drive – and it offered a free “Community” class on a Saturday!
I jumped straight on it, sent the box an email and booked my slot in the community class. All systems go.
On the morning of the class, my wife prevented me from bailing last minute and drove me to the box to take part in it.
The workout itself consisted of a lot of movements I wasn’t used to and the coaches ensured I was doing everything in a safe manner.
I was partnered up with another relatively recent CrossFit convert and I can safely say that I’ve never felt as worn out after exercise in my life.
From that moment I knew it was something that I wanted to continue with.
“12 months later, I stand by this decision.”
There are so many things that I’ve picked up and learned along the way, both about the sport and also about myself.
Starting (and continuing) CrossFit has changed my life in a number of ways that I am proud to share with everybody:
#1 Crossfit Makes You Want To Work Out!
As I said earlier and, having had this confirmed by others, I was beginning to resent training and would look for an excuse not to go, whether that was the rain or my son having a bad night and keeping my wife and I up.
It’s worth mentioning that my favourite time to go to CrossFit class is 5am, meaning I need to be awake at 4.15am!
I am waking up substantially earlier than I am used in order to go to the gym.
There are several other classes taking part during the day, but I am always so eager to get to the box and take part in the WOD (Workout of the Day) and am often counting down the hours until I can next take part in a class!
#2 You’ll Learn New Movements And Skills
CrossFit is a mixture of several elements including Olympic lifting, gymnastics and HIIT style metabolic conditioning.
If, before I had started doing CrossFit, you had asked me to a handstand, I would have told you politely where to go.
If you’d have asked me to perform a snatch, there’s a high likelihood I’d have looked at you in a slightly derogatory fashion.
Fast forward to now and one of my favourite elements of CrossFit is the gymnastics elements.
It’s also the weakest area of my CrossFit “game”, which is why I’m working so much harder at it.
CrossFit has exposed me to a number of new movements I never deemed possible.
In fact, when I first started it, I made my excuses to the coach.
Until one day I was told to “just give it a go”.
When I failed, I became determined to make sure that the next time I didn’t fail.
I’ve realised from CrossFit that unless I had gone outside of your comfort zone, I simply would not progress.
I put my faith in the coaches at the box and within 4 months I found myself loving life being upside down (in handstands, just to clarify!)
#3 You Will Push Harder
Having grown up playing a lot of soccer, tennis and squash, I always thought of myself as being quite fit…and then CrossFit humbled me.
I spent a lot of my time at the bottom of the leaderboard, which initially was a little demoralising.
I used to think I was working hard during my days of throwing weights around in my local commercial gym, but it turns out I was only kidding myself.
I am working so much harder at the box in a bid to improve and climb the leaderboard.
Unless you’re an elite CrossFitter you learn not to remotely care about where you place in the leaderboard (the exception being when you’re in a competition) and the only thing you are looking to beat is your previous score.
It may be cliched but in CrossFit, the only person you’re competing with is yourself.
Nothing quite beats that feeling of “leaving it all on the gym floor” and that is the kind of work ethic that CrossFit gets out of you.
#4 You’ll Join A Community
In 2017 I relocated from the UK to Australia with my wife, just in time for the birth of our son.
Moving to a new place where you know very few people, starting a new job and bringing a baby into the world means that you won’t have much time, energy or desire to make new friends.
How does a grown man make friends?
I always felt like it would be a little weird to ask somebody “would you like to hang out and be friends please?”.
I could stop worrying about this from the moment that I joined my CrossFit box.
From my first class at a very dark and uncharacteristically (for Australia) cold morning at 5am, people were talking to me and asking me about myself.
From there it just continued. During the recent 2019 CrossFit Games “Open”, participants in the competition from our box would go out for dinner and drinks afterwards and have a celebration of our recent achievements.
As time has gone by, I have only started to spend a lot more time with these people and they’ve become friends of mine.
We no longer just convene when we are in sweaty piles on the floor after a WOD but instead will discuss all manner of personal things!
#5 You Care Less About Your Physique
Finally, one of the biggest ways in which CrossFit has changed my life is that I’m no longer chasing the “perfect” physique.
During my commercial gym days, I would become so impatient and insecure about why my physique wasn’t changing at the rate that I wanted it to.
I wanted people to look at me and say “he definitely goes to the gym”, but now I just don’t care.
I’m no longer taking part in an activity for vanity’s sake and instead am training to perform better.
It becomes more about beating your last score and successfully being able to achieve the more complicated movements e.g. double unders (passing a jump rope under your feet twice in one movement) or the ever-graceful muscle-up.
The performance and strength gains far outweigh the desire to have a rippling six-pack resembling a mythical god and that in itself is liberating. If you keep working hard and eat fairly sensibly, the physical changes will follow.
If you, like many others, are on the fence about CrossFit, my honest advice would be to contact your local box and enquire about a no-obligation drop-in session to give it a try.
You might just love it!