…and I liked it!
I’ve run into so many people over the past year or so who do CrossFit and not one had ever had anything bad to say about it. That said, I had the misconception that it was some crazy, unsafe workout routine where people just got hurt and threw up. About five months ago I decided to give it a shot—after all, no one had anything bad to say, so why not. At that point I was a little burnt out from my tri training, so I needed a change of pace anyways.
There are quite a few CrossFit gyms, or “boxes” as they call them, in the Cleveland area and I knew people at a few of them. I decided to try CTOWN for no other reason than it was a convenient location. They offered a free “Bootcamp” classes try it out, so one warm Saturday afternoon, I showed up and gave it a shot. I arrived about 10 minutes early while another class was wrapping up. Everyone had amazing bodies, dripping with sweat and they all looked like they were going to pass out. Loud music was playing as the coach walked around encouraging everyone to keep going. A buzzer went off and everyone had a sigh of relief. Although for a minute or two everyone looked exhausted, and many laying on the ground, they all quickly recovered and started smiling and congratulating each other on a good workout.
Then it was time for the bootcamp class. Carl, the head coach at CTOWN, rounded up the class and had us run 400m followed by some more warmup drills. After that, he showed us the bootcamp WOD (workout of the day), demonstrated the moves it involved and pointed out how do do them correctly. He spent the most amount of time on squats. I now know why—a large majority of the moves in CrossFit involve some kind of squat movement, including wall balls. If my memory is correct the WOD that day involved rowing, pushups, wall balls and air squats. It was a 20 minute AMREP (as many rounds as possible). The workout was intense, a lot of sweat was shed and I was sore the next day.
After going through their training camp (conditioning program) I’ve continued to go back regularly. What’s great about CrossFit workouts is that they are fast but intense—most WODs are under 30 minutes of work time. I no longer have a concern about the program being unsafe. They spend so much time making sure you are doing the moves right (and safe) emphasizing quality over quantity (or weight you can’t lift). The workouts are also very scalable. If you can’t do a handstand pushup, you can do a box pushup or a regular pushup and work your way up to the full move. The vibe in the gym is nothing but positive. No intimidating body builders making you feel week—just good, encouraging people.
Although I’m currently CrossFitting 4-6 times a week, I’ll probably cut back and focus more on tri-specific training around February. That said, I’ve been read a lot of research lately that talks about how short, high-intensity interval (including strength) training can improve endurance sport performance. Just last week I had my best 100y free swim time in a while—and I haven’t been swimming much in the past few months. CrossFit is, by design, broad and general making it great training for any sport, physically demanding job or just life in general.