CrossFit is all the rage. What step aerobics was to me in 1992, or what BODYPUMP was to me in 2003, CrossFit is in 2013. I know people talk about how it’s all “drink the kool-aid-ey” but there’s a reason for that. It plays to so many things that draw people in: competition, group motivation and the promise of effective fitness results.
I started in September of last year after feeling totally disenchanted with what I had been doing. I had heard about it from some other blogs and after I got a sneak preview at HLS last year, I decided I needed to give it a try. A local box had opened near me, so I signed up. It’s made all the difference, and here’s why:
1) It totally busted my plateau. I spent many years doing a very similar routine – BODYPUMP a couple days a week, step aerobics and spinning, running here and there for a total of probably 10-15 hours a week of exercise. Needless to say, my body had stopped adapting. I wasn’t getting stronger, I wasn’t getting faster, I wasn’t getting more fit. I couldn’t lift more weight or run faster without feeling like I was risking injury (there’s that telltale uh-oh feeling when you’re doing some exercise and it’s just not right, you know?). I was totally overtraining. My carb and sugar cravings were out of control and I felt sluggish all the time. Since I started doing CrossFit 8 months ago, I have seen more improvements in the shape and functionality of my body (everything works again!) and I’m getting stronger and stronger every time I workout.
2) I’ve started lifting more weight than I ever thought possible. I recently hit a new deadlift PR of 185# and I’m already thinking I need to retest my 1-rep maximum (1RM) because I believe I can do more. If someone told me 3 years ago that I would be deadlifting way more than my own bodyweight, I would have looked at them like they were nuts, but here I am. I found that I have a natural knack for weightlifting and strength adaptations to the exercises come fairly easily to me, which makes me love it all the more.
3) My posture has improved. I found myself at work the other day sitting upright in my desk chair totally unconsciously. I realized what I was doing and was surprised that it wasn’t fatiguing my back muscles to be sitting upright like that! As a matter of fact, it was more comfortable than slouching back in my desk chair.
4) My performance goals affect how I choose what I eat. I really, REALLY want to be able to do a muscle up and a pull-up without any assistance, and both of those are personal 2013 goals. But they’re not going to come without dropping some excess bodyweight in order to be able to complete the move. So keeping that goal in mind helps me make healthy choices. Also, making the leaderboard is always an incentive, so having an off day because I didn’t eat right bums me out.
5) I’m far less frequently injured. Now that I’m not overtraining (as a matter of fact, I only workout about 4-5 hours a week), my knees, ankles, shins and feet have never been happier. I used to be plagued with overuse injuries and muscular imbalances (wobbly knees on squats, what?) and they’ve all disappeared. Not only that, my CrossFit coaches are so particular on technique and alignment that I know I’m performing the movements in the correct way. I’ve taken time to allow my body to adapt to the exercise and only gone up on weight when I feel as though I’m sufficiently strong enough to perform the move safely. It’s been really remarkable.