I was skeptical about and afraid of CrossFit until I fell in love with it. I was a Kinesiology major when CrossFit was first starting to gain steam. Founder Greg Glassman was openly hostile towards exercise scientists - which was obviously a turn off as I was signing on to crushing student loan debt in order to receive the education he so clearly despised. Shortly after college, I worked at a small gym franchise that had been started by two former CrossFit gym owners. They of course focused on the shortcomings while extolling the virtues of their own program. So I continued to write it off.
When my husband (boyfriend at the time), became a federal law enforcement officer, he was introduced to CrossFit through his training. He quickly became obsessed. We were moving to Alexandria, Virginia and there was a CrossFit gym with excellent reviews less than a mile from our new house. I reluctantly agreed to try it. Luckily, we signed up for a 3-month commitment, because I hated it at first. I felt ridiculed by any of the female coaches (this is unfortunately very common when a fit female comes into another fit female’s “house”, ugh) and often ran after classes I didn’t think contained enough cardio. But over the three months, a few of the outstanding coaches and the methodology of the sport started to win me over.
When talking about CrossFit, I always say that I’m very fast but not very strong. I stand by the statement. But everything is relative. I am not very fast compared to elite female athletes and I am very strong compared to women who have never picked up a barbell. But, generally speaking, in a group of average CrossFit athletes, I am among the fastest but not the strongest. I’m also incredibly competitive and hard on myself so the fact that CrossFit contains what seems like thousands of skills that can be mastered is a double-edged sword. I truly believe that no other sport supports adults being in an environment in which they are constantly learning. It’s amazing. You “master” one skill and there’s a new one right behind it, ready to take you back to feeling like a complete novice. At the same time, the repetitive nature of benchmark workouts like Fran feed the internal fire of a competitive person.
It’s hard to fully explain CrossFit to someone who has never tried it. I think everyone (who enjoys challenging exercise - if you love walking and only walking, I simply would not recommend CrossFit) should try it once, at a GOOD gym. Not all gyms are good gyms. I’ve been lucky to have been a member at what I believe to be two of the best on the East Coast, Trident Athletics (formerly Trident CrossFit) in Alexandria, Virginia and CrossFit South Brooklyn in Brooklyn, New York.
I’m currently working out at home so I’m “doing CrossFit” style workouts without barbells and with lots of modifications and constraints. But I love working out at home. I love dumbbells and kettlebells. I love building strict strength on pull-ups instead of berating myself every day that my bar muscle-ups just aren’t there and I still can’t get that ring muscle-up. Will I go back to a CrossFit gym? Will I be able to go back to my once beloved CrossFit South Brooklyn even though it’s so closely linked to the most devastating part of my life? I don’t know. Never say never. But like with running, I’m happy for now to be able to incorporate my favorite aspects of this sport into my current training without bringing in the elements that are toxic for me.