Several 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.
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,” with the stated goal of improving fitness (and therefore general physical preparedness), which it defines as “work capacity across broad time and modal domains.” 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. 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.
My 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.
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!!