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How Cross-Fit Changed Everything

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Jackie Clifford.jpgSeveral months ago when Ms. In The Biz was still coming together,  Ms. In the Biz herself, Helenna Santos-Levy asked if I would like to contribute.  My immediate response was “YES!!” followed by uncertainty and dread of the unknown. Blogging  was unchartered territory for me, … one of those… “one of these days” things to do on my endless to do list in life.  And, what to write about??? Helenna, in her infinite wisdom, suggested that I use my blog as an opportunity to reflect on the health and fitness changes that I’ve made over the years.  You see, when I moved to Los Angeles almost 5 years ago I was in a much different place than I am today.  Not only was I at least 25 pounds heavier (quite a bit of weight on my petite 5’2 ½  frame), but I hated exercise and couldn’t conceive of a world in which I would enjoy it.  I thought exercise was a form of punishment people inflicted on themselves for not looking “right” naturally…  But, then a little over a year ago I discovered cross-fit by accident, and I’m both proud and humbled to admit that not only am I in the best shape of my life, but a lot of my unhealthy self-perceptions have shifted too.

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So how does one “accidentally” discover cross-fit?  Well, almost two years ago I had just gotten engaged, and decided that I wanted to look awesome for my wedding day.  So, I bought a bunch of groupons: kick-boxing, pilates on reformer machines, boot-camp, yoga, basically any discounted work-out that I could get my hands on.  They were all interesting in their own right, but what would happen is that as soon as I’d get into a routine, the groupon would end.  After several months of this and the wedding rapidly approaching, I knew I needed something that I could do regularly.  That’s when I received an email from a women’s gym called Pink Iron.  They had a great deal going … just enough time for me to start a routine and get into shape before my wedding.  What I didn’t know is that this seemingly girly gym was actually an unaffiliated cross-fit gym.  Basically, I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I signed up.  And, to be honest, I think it’s better that I was clueless. But, sign up I did, and that’s how it all started.

Since I am by no means an expert or an authority on cross-fit, simply an experienced enthusiast, I figured it best for me to take a definition of it rather than define it myself.  So here is an excerpt from wikipedia.  I realize it’s pretty dry reading, but hopefully it will give you some insight.

CrossFit describes its strength and conditioning program as “constantly varied, high intensity, functional movement,”[5] with the stated goal of improving fitness (and therefore general physical preparedness), which it defines as “work capacity across broad time and modal domains.”[6] Workouts are typically short—20 minutes or less—and intense, demanding all-out physical exertion. They combine movements such as sprinting, rowing, jumping rope, climbing rope, flipping tires, weightlifting, carrying heavy objects, and many bodyweight exercises; equipment used includes barbells, dumbbells, gymnastics rings, pull-up bars, kettlebells, medicine balls, and boxes for box jumps.[7][8][9] These elements are mixed in numerous combinations to form prescribed “Workouts of the Day” or “WODs”. Hour-long classes at affiliated gyms, or “boxes,” typically include a warm-up, a skill development segment, the high-intensity WOD, and a period of individual or group stretching. Performance on each WOD is often scored and/or ranked to encourage competition and to track individual progress. Some affiliates offer additional classes, such as Olympic weightlifting, which are not centered around a WOD.[10]

541514_10200819129427132_776384860_nMy first few classes at Pink Iron left me so sore that I could barely move.  And, yet I wanted more because I enjoyed surprising myself by doing things I never thought I could do.  I’d never done a box jump before, for instance.  And, as I kept going back for more, I was shocked to discover that I excelled in certain areas.  And believe me, the overachiever in me liked that very much : ).  Oh, and I found that when I pick up a heavy barbell, I’d feel like a badass.  And who doesn’t like feeling like a badass every now and again, right?!  It’s hard to explain why I enjoy it so much.  Maybe I love cross-fit because every class is different, and it never gets easy.  Maybe it’s because my coaches are incredibly kind and supportive people.  Or, maybe it’s because I genuinely look forward to seeing the women that I work out with.  There are so many reasons that this particular gym and this particular style of working out makes my heart sing.  The bottom line is I feel incredibly grateful to have found it.

It isn’t uncommon for people who become involved with cross-fit to become obsessed with it.  I’m clearly guilty as charged.  I know I’ve had moments where the only thing I found myself talking about was cross-fit.  In fact, to some of my non cross-fit friends, I started to sound like I’d become a meathead. The thing is I didn’t care  (alright, I cared a little… and I’ve since curbed some of my cross-fit talk to interested parties only : ).  Something in me had changed, and I embraced it whole-heartedly.  As a kid, I was one of the last kids picked for any sport.  Even in college when I was required to take dance for my acting major, I felt frustrated and ashamed at how challenging it was for me.  So it’s a pretty big deal for me to now consider myself a cross-fit athlete.  The thing that is even more amazing to me is how it affects other things.  My husband and I actually learned a dance for our wedding after I’d been doing cross-fit for several months.  I would never have been able to do that before.  I played darts for the first time a month ago, and found I wasn’t half bad.  And, just this past weekend, I went ice-skating for the second time ever.  By the fourth time around the rink, I was skating with relative ease.

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I now realize how incredibly important it is for people to find a work-out that works.  I seriously never thought I’d enjoy working out.  I thought it would always be a chore.  That’s probably why I’m so enthusiastic about cross-fit.  It’s proved me wrong.  If you’re interested in trying cross-fit, most cross-fit gyms will offer a first free class, so I encourage you to at least check it out.  Whatever you do, and whatever fitness path you take, I wish you all good health and happiness.  Cheers!!

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About Jackie Fogel

Actor - Hi, I’m Jackie Fogel! I’ve lived in Los Angeles for the past 4 years, and like so many people who end up here, I moved to L.A. to realize my dream of becoming a successful actor. I’m still working on that dream, and I work towards it every day, but if my happiness were based solely on my career, let’s just say I wouldn’t be winning any Miss Congeniality awards. One of the things that has helped make me a more well-rounded and consequently happier person has been cross-fit and following a mostly paleo diet. But, it’s been quite the journey leading me up to this point. Join me in my blog as I reflect on the crazy road that’s lead me here.