I have been doing CrossFit since December 2011, but it has been an on and off affair for much of that time. The thing that initially drew me to CrossFit was that I was getting a bit bored at the gym. I had a membership at a local gym, plus I had a weekly session with a personal trainer that I shared with a friend. The PT session is great, and I’m still doing that, but I found it a real chore going to the gym during the week outside of my PT session. I found that I was lacking motivation to go the gym and that the same old routine was getting stale. Mind you, I had been going to a gym for several years, and my routines at the gym always changed. I tried a mix of classes, cardio and free weights, but it is true that my motivation was lacking and that I really wasn’t going to the gym.
I was first introduced to CrossFit by a friend, but had never even heard of it before then. CrossFit is bigger in the US and Canada, but is still relatively new in Australia. I was immediately interested in the idea of CF, seeing how it is run in group classes and that their seemed to be an emphasis on functional training rather than on physical appearance.
So, what exactly is CF? Well, to be fair, I’ve only really being going in earnest for a few months, so what I’m writing now is really just my personal experience rather than an expert’s view. This will be useful for anyone who is contemplating what to do for exercise to ‘get fit’, and provide some useful pointers for newbies.
CrossFit is a group based form of physical activity with an emphasis on developing functional fitness. In other words, the main focus is not on building muscle, burning fat, changing physical appearance, or lifting heavy weights. Rather, the main focus is on developing skills which enable you to perform better in day to day life. Imagine that you were once again a primal cave dweller, who had to use life skills for everyday survival. CF would be the kind of training that you would need.
CF combines cardiovascular fitness with power lifting and also incorporates a lot of body weight exercises, core strengthening and stretching. The classes are run as groups with one instructor, with class sizes varying anywhere from 1 to 10 plus. The instructor is pivotal here. Anyone new to CF will need to go through an induction series of 3 classes to get some basic techniques, but really after that you learn on the go. An instructor will always demonstrate all of the moves in each class, and give personal assistance as needed. Although these are group classes, there is no overt competition. The group aspect is really the best part of it. This keeps you motivated to attend and to try your best for each class, but there is no nasty competition. The instructor is to guide you with some gentle encouragement, but it isn’t anything like boot camp.
The CF session lasts for an hour, and starts off with a warm up of 5-10 minutes, followed by the workout of the day (WOD) and then a warm down of core exercises and stretching. See here for an example of a typical hour session.
The thing I found the most different with CF as compared to other types of physical activity is the amount of technique involved. This makes CF more of a sport rather than just going to the gym. In particular, there is a lot of technique involved in power lifting, but also lots of technical stuff to learn with kipping, double unders, hand stand push ups…. just writing about it makes me feel overwhelmed!
So, what I’m planning to do is a journal style entry of my personal experience with CF. So far I’ve just been going along to the sessions and now I’m really starting to get into it. And, just like with everything else that I do, I’m now going to start reading a researching and publishing what I find.
There are a ton of useful resources out there, and so far the one that I’m going to start with can be found at http://www.crossfit.com/. It’s loaded full of really useful instructional videos, and that’s where I’m headed to now.
Make sure to check out this awesome CrossFit introductory video:
Good luck with your CrossFit journey.