I wanted to take a minute to address some questions that I’ve been getting from folks who are thinking about doing CrossFit. I figure, as a CF newbie myself I can at least share some of the things I’ve learned and observed over the past couple months I’ve been at it.
#1 Don’t be afraid to SCALE! Please don’t think you need to be the Incredible Hulk or just ULTRA fit in order to do the workouts (or WODs as they’re called). CF is totally scaleable to various abilities, which allows you to still get in a tough workout at the level at which you are able to participate. I’ve had many a workout where I either had to scale the weight down or find an alternate movement because there are some things I just can’t do yet. It’s totally normal, and totally ok, and really it is necessary in order to prevent yourself from getting injured. Contrary to popular belief about crossfitters…we don’t glorify injury. That’s stupid. If you’re injured, you can’t really do the work or workout. Which defeats the ultimate purpose of CF – to “forge elite athletes”…It’s kinda hard to be an athlete, let alone an “elite” one when you’re injured all of the time because you didn’t have to good sense to scale that weight down or modify a movement until you were able to do the WOD as prescribed (or “RX” as it’s called).
#2 Form FIRST…This kinda builds upon the point mentioned above. If you can’t do a movement without any weight or with low weight, what makes you think that you’d be able to perform that same movement with weight? Yea, that logic doesn’t work out at all. Pay attention to your form, listen to the cues your coaches give you. My favorite quote that I’ve heard at my box often is “Make each rep pretty.” Meaning, make each one, whether it be your first rep or your 20th, look pretty. Keep that form consistent, and you will greatly reduce any chance of injury AND proper physical mechanics will mean you will become much more efficient at performing the moves, which means you can (in time) go faster or lift more…making you a better athlete. It all starts with the form. So if that means you practice with the PVC pipe or the practice bar, or the regular bar before you throw some weight on there, then so be it. Get your form right. Don’t try to hulk it out and end up hurting yourself because your form fell to crap.
#3 Support your box (and box mates)! For the not-so-extroverted out there, this might be a toughie, but trust me…you’ll thank me for it. One of things you will quickly discover about CF is that when it comes down to it, your only competition is yourself. Everyone in that room is trying their best to make it through the WOD. Some will make it through faster or do more weight than others, but believe me that the WOD comes easy to NO ONE. With that said, support your boxmates. If you’ve finished the WOD, cheer on those who are still pushing through. There have been a couple of workouts that I’ve found myself as the last woman standing and my box mates rallied around me to cheer me on. Likewise, I’m quick to offer encouragement to those box mates who might be struggling and even congratulating folks on doing a good job or hitting a PR. Adding to that, support events at your box. It’s awesome to work out with folks and build friendships that way, but taking a moment to have a little fun with your box mates is another way to participate in building a community at your box.
#4 Clean up your mess. I think this one is kinda self explanatory, but whatever equipment you pull out…make sure you’re putting it back when you’re done. Heck, go the extra mile and help a box mate break their weight down or help put their stuff away at the end of a WOD. I can assure you that they (and your coaches) will appreciate it!
#5 Listen to your body. Again…kinda self explanatory, but allow me to expound upon this just a little bit. You will need to learn the difference between being sore vs being in pain, and act accordingly. Sometimes we Listen to your coaches. Okay, so the coaches at your box are there to help. When they give you instruction, please…PLEASE listen to them. If they tell you to scale or modify or take weights off – DO IT. They know what they’re talking about, and do have your best interests at heart. Don’t be a knucklehead and try to go against the grain unnecessarily. Taking it a step further, talk to your coaches. Coaches are people (and athletes) too – find out where they’re from, what their story is, how they came to CF. You’d be surprised at what you find out, and even more surprised at the wealth of knowledge you have available to you. To be just a LIL bit biased, I’ve gotta say that the coaches at my box are kinda awesome. Very diverse backgrounds and approaches to sports and athleticism in general, but they all agree that FORM comes FIRST.
#6 HAVE FUN. CrossFit can really be a ton of fun. You make new friends, push yourself to new limits, and it can really change your life. Yes, the competition aspect is there and can be very prevalent at times, but have fun… With any exercise, fitness program, or sport – the more enjoyable you find it to be, the more likely your are to stick with it. If CF is something you want to do, then do it, just make sure you are having fun along the way.