You’ve heard about CrossFit. Those crazy insane workouts. The super fit athletes. Those impossible looking competitions. And the ultimate CrossFit competition, the CrossFit Games. Some of you may have thought, there’s no way I could do it. Some may have wondered if you could hack it. I’m going to share with you a few tidbits about CrossFit that should answer some of the most common questions you and other prospective beginners may have.
First let me share a little background on my CrossFit journey. I started CrossFitting in 2013. Soon after, I became a CrossFit coach and the general manager at CrossFit South Shore. I loved CrossFit and became totally engrossed in it. I pretty much got drunk on the Kool-Aid (see terminology below). I had an accident in early 2016 (more on that in another post) and haven’t been able to return — yet. It makes me sad because I know when I did CrossFit I was the fittest I had ever been in my life. But I’ll get back to it again someday.
Enough about me. Let’s go over some basic CrossFit terminology.
CrossFit Kool-Aid – It’s what the cool kids drink, haha. Actually it’s what new CrossFitters say when they’ve come to love CrossFit and can’t stop talking about it with all their friends and family. They watch CrossFit YouTube videos, buy CrossFit clothes and gear, and post pictures of their ripped hands (yes, it happens). They drank the Kool-Aid.
Box – In CrossFit you don’t go to the gym. You go the Box. This harkens back to the early days when CrossFit sessions were held in home garages or small warehouse spaces. There are still some CrossFit boxes like this, but there are also a ton of boxes held in larger warehouse or gym facilities.
WOD – Workout of the Day. You don’t do a workout. You do a WOD.
Now for answers to some very common questions people ask about CrossFit.
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Don’t I have to be in shape before I start CrossFit?
It helps, but you don’t have to be in shape to try it. Everyone starts somewhere. CrossFit WODs are designed to be scalable. If you’re just starting out, your coach will likely have you do fewer reps, go lighter in weight, or modify a movement. As you get more proficient, your coach will adjust those things to accommodate your improved fitness.
I’m too old for that s**t.
While this is not a question, it’s a common misconception people have when considering adding CrossFit to their fitness routine. I’m 44 and while that age doesn’t warrant a “Wow, you’re oooood” yet, I’m no spring chicken either. My joints get creaky and it’s harder for me to recover than it was when I was in my 20’s. I can’t eat like I did when I was younger and I also have to work harder to stay fit. But it’s achievable. I’ve worked out next to 20 year olds and surpassed them in WODs. And it feels awesome to know I can.
I’ve seen 70 year olds CrossFitting and truly enjoying it. One 70 year old woman I know does better than some 50 year olds just starting out. Exercise helps you regain mobility, helps maintain strong bones and muscles, and improves cardio-respiratory endurance. Some Boxes have programs tailored specifically for the older population. A great Box will work with you to scale a WOD to match your fitness level and capabilities.
Will I get hurt?
No and possibly yes. Three important factors go into this. First, talk with your physical or healthcare provider to get the go ahead to do high-intensity workouts. If you have an existing injury or movements you can’t do and you don’t get your doctor’s okay or you don’t tell your coach, then yeah, you could get hurt.
Second, find good coaches and a good CrossFit box. A good coach will know how to modify the WOD to match your fitness level. A good coach will teach you proper form and make sure you’re keeping proper form during a WOD.
Third, listen to your coaches and your body. Pay attention when the coach is demonstrating movements. Working with barbells is not as simple as it looks. There are some complex movements in CrossFit, but you can definitely do them correctly and effectively if you listen to your coaches. You also need to listen to your body. If you’re body is telling you to stop, then listen. If you’re body is tell you it’s not a good day to go heavy, then listen. And let your coach know so she can suggest changes you can make for your workout.
Will I get big?
No and yes. If you want to, then yes, to the capacity your genetics will allow you to. If you put in the work, you can certainly get stronger, bigger, defined muscles. Some people are genetically prone to grow bigger muscles in certain parts of their body. Some people have to work really hard to gain bigger muscles and may remain slender, but have more definition and strength. From my own experience, my quads got bigger, but I didn’t bulk up. I’m petite and pretty much stayed small. But hey, I was able to squat clean more than my own body weight with the bigger thighs, so it was a nice trade-off.
Will I be the only one who doesn’t know what they’re doing?
Most CrossFit boxes have beginner classes to help you get up to speed with the movements before you move into the regular classes. And the best boxes have a great culture and group of members that are welcoming and willing to help. One of the things I enjoyed about CrossFit was how supportive everyone is. So many times the last person to finish a WOD was the one who got the most support and the biggest cheers.
Check out Week 5’s Workouts to see some CrossFit-style workouts you can do at home.
How Do I Get Started?
Do your homework. Google your local CrossFit boxes. Call them. Ask the owner or manager tons of questions. Aside from the typical questions of what’s your class schedule, where are you located, what are your hours, what are your prices, you should also ask the following questions.
- How long have you been open?
- How many coaches do you have and what are their credentials?
- What’s the typical class size? Do they fill up quickly?
- How are classes run?
- What can I expect if I join your box?
- Can I try it out?
The last question is super important. If you can’t try out a class, at the very least you should be able to stop in and check it out. Or sign up for a trial. A lot of CrossFit boxes have Intro to CrossFit or CrossFit Ramp Up programs that allow you to give CrossFit a test drive and show you how things work before you join the regular classes.
So there you have it. These are basic answers to some very common CrossFit questions for beginners or anyone contemplating adding CrossFit to their workout routine. If you have any questions, feel free to comment below.