3 Assumptions That Were Debunked by CrossFit: An Outsider's Perspective
"So wait, you want ME to try CrossFit? You mean where meatheads get together and basically experience cardiac arrest while lifting astronomically heavy weights over their heads and then proceed to bring it down to the ground before they pick it up again? Really? I mean I want to get fit but I just don't think that style of fitness is for me. Maybe next year..."
These were the type of thoughts that were racing through my head as my brother and I were discussing his first year of CrossFit. As he described how much fun he had while explaining some of the workouts to me, with glowing enthusiasm on his face, I wondered - had he lost his mind?
As someone who at that time was recovering from a L5-S1 bulging disc, it just didn't seem realistic to me. I yearned to take my fitness to the next level, but I didn't see myself as someone who was fit for CrossFit. So I guess I'd better just stick to 24 Hour Fitness and continue to make myself feel like I'm getting fit while having no direction or measurement of my progress. It made me feel better because, you know, my ego liked that sort of thing.
Fast forward to one year after that conversation. I had just graduated from college and planned to move back to Colorado. To my surprise, my brother had taken his insanity to another level. "Yeah, remember that gym that I was a member at for the last 2 years? I just bought it."
Great. Not only had he become a meathead himself, but he was now FACILITATING the meat-headedness. On top of that, he had the nerve to offer me a job at the meathead factory. Because I was in need of temporary work and because I support my oldest brother in his meathead endeavors, I tentatively accepted the position.
So, as you can probably guess, I was inadvertently forced to start CrossFit. Since then, most of my initial assumptions have drastically changed about the function, mentality, and culture of the community. In a position to discuss my own personal experience which might help others who are considering to elevate their fitness, let me provide some personal insight. Listed below are 3 of my assumptions that were debunked by CrossFit:
1. I will get hurt.
...The main barrier for myself and most people who also have injuries. Rightfully so, I thought there was no way to consistently do CrossFit without injuring myself. That being said, I decided to consciously make the effort to take it slow, make sure I understood correct form of the movements, and have proper knowledge on how to pace myself and recover my body.
With this mentality, I've been able to recognize my weaknesses and address them head on. I know that no matter what movement I'm doing in the workout, I'm able to scale it to a level that suits my ability. I also worked at completely dropping my ego. And although I have had some minor setbacks with my lower back while training, I've noticed that my body has been able to rejuvenate much quicker because I now have a strong foundation that supports it.
Granted, there are some people who simply are hindered by their injuries which limits them to the movements in CrossFit, and I get that. But for those who feel confident enough in working with their injuries instead of around them, I promise you that you can still make progress with CrossFit. I know I have.
2. It's too hard for me (I can't handle the intensity).
This was difficult for me to internally handle. As a former collegiate athlete and someone who played sports throughout my adolescent life, I understood that in order to get better I had to challenge myself. I knew that if I wanted to truly get fit, it wasn't going to be easy. However I somehow justified my thought process by asking myself, "Couldn't I just get fit without having to throw around barbells?" Truth is, you can. I remember a wise man once said to me, "There's 'fit', and then there's CrossFit."
With the combination of constant variation and infinite scalability, I realized that I could move at my own pace. I didn't have to be doing muscle ups and overhead squats every day to get fit. I am challenging my body with what it can do on a day to day basis which ultimately improves my confidence slowly but surely.
3. I won't fit in to the community.
Despite my ability to get along with people fairly easily, I had this weird, ignorant concern that I wouldn't feel comfortable in a CrossFit environment. To be honest, I assumed that everyone was in it for themselves, or so they could talk about it a lot. Although both are true to a certain level based on the individual, I didn't realize the supportive community embedded underneath the surface.
I didn't expect to see everyone clapping for the last one to finish the workout. I didn't expect to see genuine coaches who care about the individual. I didn't expect to feel comfortable in my own skin, especially in a competitive environment. I didn't expect to meet people who empathized. I didn't expect to make dozens of meaningful relationships through the love of fitness and wellbeing. That said, I didn't expect to work at a CrossFit gym, and look where that got me.
I write this because maybe it will help someone who is in the same position I was a few years ago. You want to dedicate yourself to your fitness, you want a community that will support you, and you damn well don't want to go into a 24 Hour Fitness anymore. I assure you that if you do your research and make the jump, you will find yourself truly enjoying your fitness journey at a CrossFit gym. Coming from a guy who had all the reason to believe CrossFit wasn't for him, you might as well trust me. You never know, you might end up working at your local affiliate someday.