During my first month of crossfit, every session was utter agony. I felt like a soft little slug that had unwittingly signed up for an advanced aerobics class. My mantra for that entire month was ‘show up and survive’. That was it.
No aiming for results, remembering any of the lingo, tracking my time/weight or competing with other people. I didn’t want injury, and one burpee was already rough ordeal.
My muscles constantly ached, I was always violently whipping my body parts with the skipping rope (I don’t even know how?!) but I showed up and survived and kept showing up and surviving.
And one day soon after that first month I went to do an exercise that I’d done when I first signed up and realised I’d gone from struggling like a piece of overboiled spaghetti lifting an 8kg bar to comfortably working with 25kgs. And that was the moment I was hooked.
From then on, I knew I would want to drag my lazy, junk food gobbling, exercise avoiding body to crossfit. I can’t say I’m anywhere near fit yet, but I have had quite a journey since that first month….
I knew I’d have to make some positive changes to my junk food habits. I struggled with my sugar addiction, tried paleo, failed, realised I was hooked on carbs, bungeed up and down with my weight, found that a mix of paleo & whole foods at 70-80% works for me and have returned to a committed crossfit routine at a friendly nearby location.
But while I say I was hooked, I was also quite certain that I wasn’t interested in certain aspects of Crossfit that are often talked about, mainly these three :
1. The cult element of crossfit
2. Bulging supermuscles
3. Developing injuries
1. THE CULT ELEMENT OF CROSSFIT
I often hear people express worries that Crossfit can be quite cultish. However I do wonder what it is that people are worried about exactly? The Kool Aid at crossfit is usually some kind of electrolyte drink, and quite safe really.
Because of its fast rise in popularity and intense workouts, some people may find it a little extreme, which is completely understandable. It’s not for everyone, but then I suppose no one type of exercise is? And people that love crossfit do often enthuse about it to others, so perhaps that may be a little freaky sometimes.
I do see how highly competitive people can become quite obsessive about crossfit workouts, sometimes to the point of excluding all other types of exercise, and sometimes impatient people who push too hard can be at higher risk of injury, but that is entirely an individual judgement call and choice.
I think that empty hearsay is hardly worth worrying about. Best to try it and see, or talk to a few different people who have themselves tried it for a while in order to collect a broad range of opinions, I think. If we don’t like the free session or decide that it’s not for us, there’s absolutely no obligation to continue. (And they don’t force anyone to drink the Kool Aid).
Personally, I’m not bothered if it’s a bit cultish in whatever ways people think it is, because it’s got far shorter sign up options than most gyms I know (my CF has one, three & 12 month options) and the people are all very cheerful and happy to enjoy their workout. I find my own workout intense, but the rest of the experience quite easygoing.
I find it more like a group personal training session than a cult.
2. BULGING SUPERMUSCLES
My Dearest Beloved told me that he was worried I would turn into a masculine looking tiger of a woman, with bulging biceps and thighs like hercules. I told him that probably wouldn’t happen – simply because I do not wish to have a body like that.
I like having curves and I like being strong and lean, but I’m not willing to drop below a healthy level of body fat, or build large muscles because continuing my work in entertainment in Asia is more important to me. I will always eat avocados, fruits and bananas, and if I start feeling like I want to trim down, I’ll cut back on protein and increase my vegetable intake. The coaches at my gym know that I am focused on fitness and fat burning so sometimes increase my reps with a decent but lower weight.
Plus, I have to do a lot of skipping and will be increasing my rowing too. Thankfully I’m whipping myself with the skipping rope a lot less these days, so that’s nice.
I focus on leaning towards a lower protein, high natural fat diet for a leaner physique. (Whole/Paleo/Ketogenic?) I also prefer doing lower weights and higher reps and ask the coaches to adjust my workout slightly for my needs. I could also do the crossfit metcon/bootcamp if I wanted more cardio.
3. DEVELOPING INJURIES
I’m extremely disinterested in injuries, or doing anything that I feel is a little irresponsible. An injury means I have to take time out from exercising, and that interferes with my goals. I know that my body isn’t as strong as it will be and I feel that I have a long way to go yet so I’m willing to have patience to achieve what I want.
For this reason I keep my weights lighter than my heaviest, and still focus on having the proper form over heavier weights. For example, if I have to do 50 overhead squats (holding a bar overhead while squatting) at 50% weight, I’ll do 25% and focus on having the most perfect form possible for all of them.
I ask the instructors to spot (watch) me if I’m doing anything that’s quite heavy for me, so that they can point out any errors / improvement to make in my form as they occur. I’m willing to put the effort in to perfecting my form as far as possible, and am not afraid to ask for guidance or clarification on anything that I don’t understand.
Injuries just aren’t worth it. Avoid at all costs. Patience and having the discipline to hold back are the key for me.
And that’s my view on three of the more commonly mentioned aspects of crossfit that I’ve heard asked. If you have any helpful tips or experiences for those new to crossfit, please do share in the comments below!
Fabulously eccentric TV host, curvaceous model and founder of Hong Kong ’s first luxury corset brand, Pearls & Arsenic. I love sharing my passion for all things elegant and live with my Dearest Beloved and a fluffy Angora rabbit named Lord Pemberly III, who is a ridiculous snob. Find me on IG @RavenTao or FB : Raven Tao
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