A great friend and former roller derby teammate (that’s a post for another day) told me I needed to look into CrossFit because I’d really love it. I’d been a little bored since quitting derby: a step aerobics class doesn’t quite compare to be knocked around by other women on skates.
I dutifully googled “CrossFit Austin” and lots of results popped up! I chose one, clicked some links and looked at some schedules. Then I chose another link to see about different days/times but the two sites looked totally different. Wait, wasn’t this a chain? I clicked around the websites but I didn’t “get it” – my frame of mind was a traditional gym and nothing about CrossFit really falls into that mold. I got confused and mentally set it aside.
A few weeks later I was again whining about lame gym classes, and my girlfriend directed me (again) to check out CrossFit. I left work early one day and stopped by the one near my house: CrossFit Central. I was lucky enough to come on a day when all the coaches were working out: it was awe-inspiring. I saw beautiful, powerful women lifting some serious weight and having a great time! It’s a pretty simple concept: the workout is posted on the website each morning, you just show up and do it with your class. The coaches are there the entire time to instruct and motivate. I signed up that day for three classes a week.
After my first few I worried I’d made a mistake. Let me remind you that I’m 40 years old, in a class with people mostly in their 20s or early 30s. That alone was intimidating. Then there’s the CrossFit-specific lingo, like “WOD” (Work Out of the Day) or “AMRAP” (As Many Rounds As Possible). And finally there was the enthusiasm: CrossFitters LOVE CrossFit. I was wondering if I’d stumbled into a cult.
I kept at it half-heartedly for the first month, sometimes only making it once a week. Work was stressful, I was remodeling my kitchen, AND going through a breakup. CrossFit was just one more thing on my list of reasons to feel like a failure: I couldn’t match the number of reps other CrossFitters did and I couldn’t do the prescribed weight on anything.
I kept waiting for someone to tell me I didn’t belong there, but no one ever did. In fact it was the opposite: everyone was unfailingly supportive and encouraging. Not just the coaches, but the other people in my class who were virtual strangers. At around 6 weeks I had a revelation: I’m not competing with anyone else in the class, I’m just competing with me. I know that sounds hokey but it’s true.
I now understand the enthusiasm I saw when I started the classes, because I feel it too. I’ve signed up for an additional Saturday morning class, and I’m always looking for more that work with my schedule. I still can’t do the prescribed weights or as many reps as others in class but that’s okay, I’m working towards it. Someday I WILL do an unassisted pull-up! My class coaches, David DeLeon and John Del Peral, are very knowledgeable and great motivators: they challenge you to challenge yourself. They keep me honest when I try to go too light or take my time, so I’ve learned I’m capable of more than I thought!
In four months I’ve lost approximately 10 pounds and dropped my body fat by 4%, while gaining muscle and noticeable definition. I’ve received unsolicited compliments on my arms and I think I might actually see the beginnings of abs. More importantly the workouts have actually improved my form on fundamental activities of daily living, like lifting heavy things.
I don’t think it will ever get easier, but I’m okay with that now because it isn’t supposed to: if it’s easy I’m not doing it right! If you’re bored with your workout routine and want to challenge yourself I can’t say enough positive things about this program. Give yourself six weeks and you’ll be hooked too!
Photographs by CrossFit Central