Introduction to CrossFit

My body.

It hurts.

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Yes folks, last night I had my very first taste of CrossFit in all its glory. Admittedly, I’ve wanted to see what CrossFit is all about for a while. Goodness knows I read about it on enough blogs, and everyone I know who does do it seems to be OBSESSED with it. After I posted my first HLS Recap explaining how I didn’t get a chance to participate in the CrossFit workout because of the timing of my presentation, blog reader Kiera emailed me and invited me to come check out the box where she does CrossFit: CrossFit Annandale.

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I have to say, after just one session I can already kind of tell why people are seriously drinking the CrossFit kool-aid. My entire body is sore today, but it’s in an I-feel-like-a-badass kind of way (though going to the bathroom is not really fun after all those squats and lunges, I tell you what). Granted, I did feel just a tiny bit throwy-uppy near the end of the WOD (Workout of the Day), but I can definitely say that I survived, and I even — gasp! — kind of had fun! What?

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So, let’s talk specifics. I went to attend the 7:00 PM class last night (the first one is free!) and got there a little early to check things out and speak with the owner, Jeremy. I got to see the end of the previous class finishing up the WOD, and when they had all cleared out, we jumped right in! Each hour-long workout is structured into three parts: warm up, skill/strength training, and finally the WOD. CrossFit Annandale does have two nights a week where they offer a WOD-only workout, too, for those who may be more crunched for time but still want to be able to “get after it” (that’s a CF saying, right? Ahahahaha).

We started out with a warm-up that consisted of about 3 minutes of various plank exercises. So obviously, considering my core strength (read: none), this entailed me holding a plank for about 8 seconds at a time, crumpling to my knees, then trying again. But hey, it’s about the effort, right? And it certainly got me warmed up in a jiffy.

After that, we moved into the strength/skill part of the class. We partnered up (I immediately grabbed ahold of Kiera, haha) and we alternated between sets of 5 front squats with a weighted bar (I did a 35 lb bar with 10 extra pounds on it, so 45 total), and 10 dumbbell external rotations, which I did with a 5 lb weight. Since I was still getting used to the moves and am totally new at this, Coach Jeremy said it was fine for me to keep my weight light. I had absolutely no problem with this.

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I need to work on keeping my elbows up, I know, but hey, I’m a n00b! I’m learning. πŸ˜‰

I have some occasional issues with my left wrist (my dainty blogger’s wrists, ahaha), and after three sets with the bar pulling my wrist back, I knew I needed to change it up. Jeremy showed me a way to complete the set by holding an upside-down kettlebell instead, which kept my wrists straight. I had go to down to a 35 lb weight though, since 45 pounds on a bar and 45 pounds crammed into a kettlebell definitely feel different!

After we completed our last set, it was time for the WOD. Yesterday’s WOD was as follows:

1. Row 1000 meters.
2. 20 overhead walking lunges with 25/45 lbs (women/men)
3. 30 burpees

Because at this point I was already pathetic-looking (not to mention mega-sweaty), the supernice coaches modified the WOD for me. I rowed 500 meters, did the 20 walking lunges with a 10 lb overhead weight, and did 15 burpees. And still, even in exerting half the effort as the other people who were there, I still teetered on the “Am I going to throw up?” line for a little bit, hahaha. Guess I haven’t been working out as hard as I thought lately, eh?

There are only three rowing machines and there were at least 10 of us in the class, so we went in heats. I watched the first two heats go before jumping in. Extremely unflattering photo barrage in 3… 2… 1…

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Newflash: I already hate burpees. I got through the rowing and the overhead lunges fairly quickly, but the thought of having to crouch, then flatten, then crouch, then jump (and clap!) afterward made me literally nauseous. I got through one burpee before I had to sit down and take a breather. After a little water (and a little whining), however, I finished the rest of them. My total time for my modified WOD was 9 minutes and 10 seconds.

So there you have it! The workout was definitely rough, even modified for a beginner like me, but it also was a lot of fun. I know, “rough but fun” sounds a little oxymoronic, but it’s true! The other attendees and the coaches were all crazy friendly, and spent a lot of time with each individual person: correcting our form, encouraging us, joking around, etc. I can understand why people enjoy CrossFit so much — it’s a very communal workout, and socialization automatically makes things more fun (and lessened the intimidation factor by about 1000 for me).

Once my muscles stop screaming every time I sit or stand or turn or walk or reach for something or, you know, do anything at all, I will definitely be going back. I know I don’t have the best track record with sticking with one particular kind of exercise, but who knows? People must be fanatical about CrossFit for a reason, right? It’ll be interesting to see how my own relationship with exercise, as well as with my body in general, changes as I continue. I’m really not used to such epic strength training, even when I was doing weight training at the gym, so I feel like this will either do wonders for my weight loss, or throw my body into a state of total and utter chaos. Either way, I’m excited to see how it goes!

Do you do CrossFit? Have you thought about it, if you don’t?

45 Comments

  1. So glad you enjoyed your first CrossFit experience. I always joked that I never understood how people got so addicted to it but umm… I’m now officially addicted! Love the community feel and the camaraderie, and pushing your limits. Nice job on the WOD!

  2. I don’t have proper rotation in my wrists either (oh the joys of working in the cubicle farm!) I find the cross arm grip much more comfortable for front squats even when I’m doing heavy weights. Most of the weight is supported by your shoulders/arms as opposed to your wrists.
    Google Image Search: “front squat cross arm grip” to see what I mean

    • Excellent — I’ll definitely need to try that!

    • Yup, yup, yup! This cubicle monkey does this, too.
      I like it because it forces me to keep my upper body in really good form. If I start to slouch or put my arms down or any other no-nos, the bar starts to not feel as stable.

  3. Dude, I get nauseous from burpees too! I thought it was just me being a baby, ha. I am so on the fence about my feelings on CrossFit. HLS was my first taste of it but it obviously wasn’t like a true class. I am planning on trying a class in my neighborhood but I don’t know if I’m into the whole thing. I’m first and foremost terrified that it’s dangerous and that there isn’t an emphasis on form so you’re prone to injury. But other people say that’s not true and there IS an emphasis on proper form. Also not into counting reps while I work out–I am the worst! I lose track because I’m trying to focus on my form and I feel like CrossFit heavily relies on AMRAP. All that said, I won’t knock it ’til I try it, and I do genuinely wanna try it out at least once to see what the buzz is about. It does seem accessible no matter what your fitness level and I think that alone is pretty attractive. Soooo we shall see!

    Great meeting you at HLS by the way! Looking forward to staying in touch!

    • It was SO great to meet you too! πŸ˜€

      Oh, and I am the WORST at counting reps too. Luckily, most of the time a coach was counting for me, but I guess it’s just a skill I’ll have to work on?

  4. I get a little hivey when I think about doing an actual Cross Fit class. The 5 minute WOD at HLS made it so that I had to think about calling someone to help me off the toliet the next day. Seriously.

    You did awesome! Can’t wait to see how you do next time around!

    • I seriously feel like this is a prime example of the case where I say “If I can do it, literally ANYONE can do it.” I can definitely attest to the fact that the coaches all let me go at my own pace, and they encouraged me but didn’t push me to do anything I couldn’t handle/didn’t want to do!

  5. I’m really hesitant about the whole CrossFit craze because it seems like so much of it is focused on competition and time rather than proper form and doing what is right for your body. That being said, it sounds like you found a really nice box where they are very responsible and receptive. So maybe my impressions are wrong.

    I also cannot STAND “your gym sucks” and other pretentious slogans. I find it to be such a turn off that they feel like they have to bash other workouts/gyms/methods. Which is sad, because I actually do some CrossFit workouts on my own, and I actually LOVE that kind of hard core lifting/intervals. So it’d be right up my alley, I just have no interest in the culture there.

    • Yeah, I have to admit I wasn’t sure how much I’d like it because I’m so NOT competitive when it comes to this kind of thing, so I was worried that I wouldn’t be motivated by the whole concept of timing the WOD and whatnot. I guess it really is going to differ from gym to gym/box to box, whatever. The slogans on the back of the shirts of the coaches at this box are:

      “Beauty is strong” and “Trample the weak. Hurdle the dead.” I think it’s pretty obvious which one I am more likely to adhere to, haha.

    • TOTALLY agree with what you said. I love the Cross-fit workouts and totally WANT to go to a gym, but I would not subscribe the elitist attitude that often comes with it. The best kind of workout is the one that you DO. Period.

  6. Crossfit is fun for like a once-a-month type of workout but its just too friggin’ hardcore for me to maintain for the long run. Props to those who can do it, though.

    • It is an intense workout (as my muscles are reminding me today), but if you do P90x I really don’t see how CrossFit is any more hardcore that that! The one time I did the P90x plyometrics DVD, I was like 10,000 times more sore the next day than I am right now. I think maybe it’s because scaling it down to your fitness level when you’re watching the video doesn’t seem as accessible (even though I know one of the people in the video is always demonstrating the “easier” way to do a move.) I definitely appreciated in CrossFit how it was like, just take as much weight as you’re comfortable with, go at your own pace, etc.

  7. Crossfit kind of scares me. It scared me even when I was super in shape (aka could run 8 miles then do Body Pump). I’ve thought about trying it but would want to do it with a partner so I wouldn’t feel so out of place.

    Thinking about doing burpees at the end of an hour long workout makes me want to cry.

  8. YAY so glad you tried it! We’ll have to do WODs together now πŸ˜‰

  9. This looks intense! I was seriously nauseated after burpees too. They did get easier as I kept doing them, but I haven’t done them in AGES! I’m almost scared to start up again!

    • This was literally my first time doing a burpee at all, so I’m sure it does get much easier as you get more accustomed (or reaccustomed!) to the type of movement!

  10. I have been Crossfitting for about a month and l love it! I can already see and feel MAJOR changes to my body composition. I think the most important thing is to trust your coach and find a box with programming that interests you. For example, I like doing strength work more than metcon work and my box has a heavy strength focus. We do plenty of metcon and traditional crossfit workouts (like Fran, Helen, and the other girls) but it would be rare to see a very long, high rep workout at our box.

  11. Even though burpees are terrible, you have a giant smile on your face in the last picture! Love that.

  12. Go Gretchen! I don’t have the guts to take a Crossfit class, but it sounds like the place you went is good for beginners. I’m always worried about form and hurting myself. And the Paleo crap. Seriously, if someone tries to take away my carbs it will be ugly.

    • I’m sure that all the trainers and “serious” CrossFitters there do stick to paleo and stuff, but you know I’m not really concerned with that at all (I LOVE CARBZ!) And from what I can tell, from the fact that the coaches kept coming around and giving me pointers on correcting my form and stuff, I don’t see it as being dismissive of good form (at least at this box). But I know this has just been one small taste of it so far, so we’ll see how things progress!

      Let me know if you ever want to try a class though! We can go together. πŸ™‚ I’m sure you’d kick my ass a million times over though, haha.

  13. THANK YOU for this post. I know there’s a CrossFit obsession out there, but I’ve never totally understood everything it entails. It looks much less scary now that I know what it is (don’t get me wrong, it still sounds scary, but according to Pinterest it looks like it might be some kind of caveman workout where you beat your chest and then the other cavemen all come and pummel you with clubs and giant rocks until you pass out and/or die).

    Real question, though–I have joint issues in my hips that have been making most cardio stupidly painful for me, and things like walking lunges or anything that puts too much repeated pressure on those joints are definitely out. Do you think CrossFit would be a total waste of my time?

    • So since I’m obviously an uber beginner, I don’t really have a good answer for this yet since my experience is so limited. My impression, however, is that they’re very willing to help you find a modified move for whatever ails you — like with my wrist issue. I know that CrossFit isn’t ALL squats and lunges, they also have kettlebell moves, jumps, weight lifting, wall balls, pull ups, pushups, planks, etc. So it might just be a case of not attending on days when the WOD is all squatting lungey stuff? I’d say it’s still worth giving a try though!

  14. that’s awesome! glad you got to try it out! I haven’t done it yet because there’s no gyms in my area but I bought a living social deal to try it once I move next month. can’t wait! hopefully it kicks my butt into gear!!

  15. Nice of you to recap your experience with CrossFit, I’ve been curious and have thought about trying it out for quite some time, however I’ve been pretty intimidated about it and all the insanely fit people that do it, since I love the feeling of successfully completing a demanding exercise but I don’t like comparing myself to others because I know I’ll always feel disappointed.

    • Yeah! I didn’t really even get into (although I meant to) the fact that I loved that there were people of all different body shapes and fitness levels there. There were a few of your typical tall, muscle-y guys and svelte, toned girls, sure, but also people who are just embracing their bodies and what they can do. It definitely made me feel much less self-conscious of my very much “in-progress” body.

  16. I’ve definitely thought about trying crossfit, but it honestly scares me a bit! Haha. I do love strength training though. I feel like when I’m only doing cardio I don’t lose weight, where as with strength training I lose weight AND gain muscle. Win-win.

  17. Good job for actually trying it!! I also give you props for letting someone take your picture while doing burpees.. I would never have the guts to do that! LOL

  18. You are gonna be so hardcoreee!

  19. I’m dying to try. I’m going to go to the one next door to my apartment … they have a foundations class (intro sessions) starting on Sept 17 that I’m going to join in for! I think it’s right up my alley. Good work on your first time!!

  20. Jessicasays:

    I’ve been wanting to try crossfit for awhile now but I’m a little intimidated. I should probably just suck it up and go to one of the intro classes. If I went to crossfit in Annandale, I would probably end up at Korean BBQ after!

    • Haha! Now there’s an idea.

      If you do end up trying out a class at the Annandale box, let me know!

  21. way to go girl! Serious props to you, I don’t know if I could handle all of that. My cousin is a die hard crossfit chick and is always asking me to come but I am the biggest wuss.

  22. I’m scared of it, frankly. My brother and his fiance do it and love it, but they are both boatloads more fit than I am and it absolutely wrecks them. Instead I hang out on the treadmill and weight machines at the regular gym.

    Reading your post made me less nervous and I may have to try it.

  23. I love the photos you took of CrossFit. Super informative since I’ve never done it before!

  24. Maisays:

    I’ve been doing crossfit for about a month now and LOVE it! I felt the same way you did after the first 3-4 workouts. Never been so sore in my life, lol!

  25. Maggiesays:

    Hi Gretchen! I came across your blog a few weeks ago and have been reading it since. I was so happy to see your post about CrossFit Annandale! I have been going there since January and my husband is a coach there. I’m glad you enjoyed your first class….hope you come back! It’s an awesome group of people. Let me know if you have any questions!

    • Ahh, i love it! What a small world. I am definitely planning on going back — especially now that I can sit and stand relatively painlessly again. πŸ˜› I hope see you there soon!

    • I’m going tonight at 6!

      • Maggiesays:

        I usually only go to 6am class because I work late. I go to Saturday class too sometime. Hope to run into you at some point! How did you like last night?

  26. kristen @ livinlifeinlouiesays:

    I have never tired crossfit, but I definitely want to try it and you make it sound so fun! Also, I hate burpees, are you sure you aren’t smiling in your picture up there!?! haha
    CONGRATS on getting a great workout in!!

  27. Totally awesome job! I would have died 5 minutes in. I’ll get there someday though! Keep pushing, you’re doing great!

  28. I’m jealous! My CF experience was pretty much the worst thing ever. For real, I have PTSD-style flashbacks it was so bad. (http://www.lostafterlosing.com/2012/10/26/my-first-crossfit-experience-was-a-nightmare/) BUT, I went back. Again and again and again. I’m still trying to figure out why..:)

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