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How to Survive Your First CrossFit Class (And Live to Tell About It)

RKMD Blog December 1, 2017

CrossFit was branded and created by Greg Glassman and Lauren Jenai, in 2000, and they were established professional trainers and the owners of CrossFit, Inc., in Santa Cruz California.  About half of the CrossFit studios (there are more than 13,000 affiliated gyms worldwide) are in the United States.  The unique workout regimen incorporates a variety of exercise philosophies, including elements of Olympic weightlifting, plyometrics, gymnastics, calisthenics, and high-intensity interval training.  For individuals who want to elevate their personal fitness, it is a challenging discipline that focuses on improving strength, flexibility and endurance.  Given the nature of the demanding workout model, clients of licensed CrossFit studios are required to get clearance from their family physician (including a cardiac stress test) before starting.

From professional athletes, to variations of CrossFit that can be appropriate for kids and seniors, it is an opportunity to explore interesting and personally challenging activities.  If you are tired of simply following a circuit around the gym, or pounding out cardio on the treadmill, it can be an exciting new way to incorporate new movement, and noticeable results in your personal training.  (Assuming you go back, after the first 2-3 challenging classes).

Remember that any significant change to your dietary, supplement or physical fitness activities, should be reviewed first with your family physician, before starting.   There are many informative websites and fitness blogs that discuss CrossFit, and provide tips to help you survive the transition. In this article, we’ll share three tips that our readers may find useful, if you plan to explore CrossFit as part of your regular physician supervised fitness routine.

Tip #1 – Don’t Expect a Traditional Luxury Gym

One of the first things you will notice about CrossFit studios, is that they don’t look like the high-end luxury style gyms you may be used to.  There is likely no pool, or hot tub to sink into after your workout, and few machines (if any).   CrossFit relies on traditional tools, like classic weights, ropes, bars and other implements to train fitness in a new way.  One that is less about comfort, and more about getting results.

Tip #2 – Get Ready to Learn a New Language

WOD do you get when you first start to learn and train in CrossFit?  It feels like learning a whole new language.  For instance, WOD stands for “Workout of the Day”, and your gym isn’t called a ‘gym’ it is called a ‘box’.  An AMRAP means ‘as many reps as possible’ in a limited time period, that can last from 10 to 30 minutes.  Colorful names also exist for hardcore fitness accomplishments, that take time and conditioning to perform. Fans of CrossFit really feel like gladiators, when they become capable of performing sets like the ‘filthy fifty’, which includes:

  • 50 box jumps
  • 50 jumping pull-ups
  • 50 kettlebell swings (at 35 lbs.)
  • 50 walking lunges
  • 50 knees to elbows
  • 50 push press (at 45 lbs.)
  • 50 back extensions.
  • 50 wallballs (medicine ball weights)
  • 50 burpees
  • 50 double-unders

Don’t feel discouraged or intimidated, if it takes some time to get your head around all the terms.  The spirit is always performance and team oriented, and people are usually glad to stop and explain to help new CrossFitter’s hit the ground running.

Tip #3 – Fancy Fitness Gear Won’t Save You (Or Help Much)

The interesting thing about CrossFit, is that at its root, it is a fundamental series of performance exercises that can be done daily, with or without equipment.  That is part of the draw that people feel toward a Box, versus a gym.  What matters is doing the exercises correctly, and within safe parameters to prevent injury.   Only time, repetition and practice will provide results (not three pairs of shoes, or expensive wrist wraps).  There is no gear, that makes CrossFit less challenging, or easy to adopt to.

From celebrities like Channing Tatum and Jessica Biel, to Tim McGraw and Jack Osborne, it’s hard to find people who are committed to fitness, who are not big fans of CrossFit.  It’s challenging, but also exciting and while the workouts are hard, the results are often quickly noticeable.  And that’s a great thing, because it keeps fitness enthusiasts coming back for more.


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