10 Things I Learned From My First Month of CrossFit – A Woman’s POV
My Expereince with Crossfit so Far
I never really pictured myself lifting weights, working on my handstand or let alone doing an exercise move called “snatch.”
I’ve always been health conscious; my secret has always been portion control. I’ve had gym memberships, completed home workouts and have been overall aware of what I’m eating but this year everything changed because now I’m doing CrossFit.
CrossFit is in an entirely different exercise category. It kicks the butt out of any Zumba, Yoga, Cycling or (fill in the blank) class. It’s more strenuous, painful, and fulfilling than any other style of workout (in my personal opinion), and the best thing about it is that I can’t stop going.
I initially jumped on the CrossFit bandwagon because of my boyfriend Peter. He working towards being the fittest he’s ever been in his life, so I wanted support him by going with him to classes. But now I’m going to classes without him!
Check out Starting CrossFit – Stylish Women can be strong, a blog post I wrote when I first started.
CrossFit looks intimidating at first, as an “outsider” looking in it can be a little terrifying. I’ve heard from some women that they don’t want to start doing CrossFit because they are afraid of getting too bulky. But the truth is that bulking up is about testosterone production and women don’t have the genetic profile to look like belong on the cover of a muscle magazine. Unless of course other methods of bulking up are taken but for the regular gal like you and me, it’s not going to happen.
As a petite woman that is now really into CrossFit and was as first scared of lifting, I want to share my experiences so far.
After my first full month of doing no other workout but CrossFit these are the ten things I learned.
1. You will get bruised
It’s not enough that CrossFit beats you up mentally, but it also does so physically. As it is I bruise easily so as you can imagine I’m black and blue from my chin to my ankles. Yes, chin! As I was doing a push press, I hit the bar on my chin, ouch. I guess bruises are expected from having metal bars rest and land on your shoulders, thighs, back, but it does take some getting used to.
So if you see a bruise emerge on your thighs or shoulders don’t worry it happens to many of us especially as we’re learning the moves. If bruises are something you dislike, be extra aware of the bar and how it lands on your body. If you like wearing shorts and your legs are bruised, I would suggest some makeup coverage.
2. Your mind is the biggest obstacle
As you’re in the middle of doing the Workout of the Day (WOD) you mind starting messing with you. You start thinking, how can I complete this, it’s impossible! 50 situps? My body can’t handle it. These coaches are trying to kill us, why am I doing this in the first place.
Your body can handle a lot, it’s you mind that you have to convince. When your mind starts to shut down on you, proclaiming it’s too tough of a workout, that’s when you need push yourself harder. You can’t let your mind hold you back, you just need to grab that bar and keep going. Yeah, you might be very sore tomorrow but that’s the best part. You know you pushed your hardest.
3. You have to say goodbye to pretty hands
Besides to bruises, your hands will get murdered. From the pull-ups and weights, your hands will get severely callused. I have a callus on almost every finger and even on my pinky.
I recently had my first experience with ripping my callus from doing toes to bar. It hurt like heck, and it’s not pretty. Band-aids are now a must in my gym bag. Besides hard hands, you can’t have long nails. I learned this while doing a bench press, my nails dug into my hand, and it was hard to do the movement. Also, while doing weighted russian twists, I scratched and bruised both of my thighs.
Ladies, cut your nails and if you want to keep your pretty hands I would recommend gloves.
4. You’re stronger than you might think
Personally I think I’m pretty weak. Before completing this month of CrossFit, I had no upper body strength, as hard getting out of the pool, no upper body strength.
After about the 3rd week of doing CrossFit, I was surprised at what I was able to lift. I’m now doing 55lbs in push press, I think is pretty good, and I found my one rep max in a back squat that is 105 lbs, 10 lbs away from my total body weight.
When you first step into the box seeing the enormous weights can be a little intimidating but taking it one move and one rep at a time you’ll slowly see how quickly you’ll advance.
Start off light and work your way up. Like I mentioned in point 2, your biggest obstacle is your mind.
5. Learning the workout moves and names will take a while
With names like snatch, clean, jerk, clean & jerk, learning the appropriate names for each move has taken me a while. After a month, I still need an example before doing the workout myself.
Learning the correct way to do a move will take a while unless you’ve done heavy lifting before. I still haven’t connected the move to the name but I’m getting better at it. It takes lots and lots of practice to do a move correctly. I had about 3 additional one-on-one lessons in addition to the 6-week onramp session because I wanted to make sure I’m doing the workouts correctly. I’m still not perfect but I’m trying my best.
Don’t get discouraged if you find yourself continuously puzzled by moves and names. It takes time to get it down.
6. You have an advantage if you’re flexible
I was given the gift of flexibility which I learned is an advantage when doing CrossFit. The moves come easier to me because I have the range of motion that others work up to have. So while others have difficult times getting “breaking parallel” in a squat I’m practically sitting on the floor.
7. You will get addicted
I don’t know if this is a common thing or not but I want to do CrossFit every day and even twice a day. I have become addicted to the workouts. It may be because of the continuous improvement I see. I get stronger and faster everyday which helps me in other parts of my life as well.
Every workout is a challenge so you push yourself every time you’re at the gym. There’s a start and end, you go in a little anxious but you leave victorious. I think this is the addicting part for me.
I’m pretty competitive and I’m an achiever (took the StrengthsFinder 2.0 test) and I think CrossFit is the perfect dynamic for my personality. You compete against others, yourself and the clock when doing the WOD. I cheer the class on but secretly I always want to beat everyone.
Seeing others on the same pace or a little faster than you will make you want to push harder because you don’t want to finish last. You stay one rep ahead of the person next to you no matter how tired or weak your body feels. Being in a group environment makes you push yourself harder than if you were working out at home alone.
In the end you’re always victorious because the coaches will never let you quit. You have someone rooting you on the entire time.
8. You feel sore all the time
From day one until now I’ve been sore. My back, arms, shoulders, legs, etc. Not all at once, the soreness is constantly on the move.
The feeling of soreness never goes aways because it’s the sign that you’re working your butt off! Literally! Don’t get worried that you’re legs are always tight or shoulders sore, just make sure you stretch correctly and make time for yoga! That’s what I do!
I schedule to do yoga at least once a week, I might add another day in case I feel extra tight.
9. You’ll want to eat healthier
This is a fantastic thing that starts happening almost immediately after starting CrossFit. You’ll want to eat healthier. Not all the time but more often than you did before.
I believe this happens because of two main reasons. First, you don’t want to feel like crap every time you’re at the gym so you make an effort to eat healthier, at least the day before.
The second reason is physical. If you start seeing improvements, losing weight, gaining mass (for men), maybe you see a hint of what might be abs and all bad food gets thrown in the trash. You make a personal commitment to yourself that you break at times but for the most part you’re more aware of eating healthy.
10. Getting a big butt is a positive side effect
If you haven’t noticed, “CrossFitters” have big butts. It’s one of the perks of doing CrossFit. If a round behind is something you want then you have something to look forward to! The soreness, calloused hands and bruised body doesn’t seem so bad once you see that a perfect behind is in your future.
So when you’re feeling lazy and don’t want to workout, look at your behind and ask yourself, do I have the butt of my dreams yet? No, then get your ass to the gym!
There are a lot of stigmas that come with CrossFit. We’ve all heard and read about them before. CrossFit is cult, I will get bulky, it’s too competitive, too time-consuming, too hard, too expensive.
For all of the women reading this, as with most things in life you really just have to go for it! You might be nervous, scared, or terrified. You might go to class with butterflies in your stomach for a month but you will get over it and you will love it. If you don’t then find a workout that do you love.
Don’t think about what others might think or say, because there will be a friend, family member or colleague that will question you.
I’ve found a fitness routine that I can’t get enough of and I look forward doing. I’ve learned to never say never again.