My beginnings: 5 things I wish I knew before
When a friend introduced me to Crossfit I was totally hooked right away! I actually wanted to try it out before, firstly because it was a trend everyone talked about, and secondly, more importantly because I needed to add a new, exciting stimuli to my regular training. My first box session taught me a lot, but there were some things I wish I knew before fully exposing myself to this contagious spirit of Crossfit.
The first thing that left me a bit confused was to take off my shoes when entering a box. Really?After taking off my new shoes and uncomfortably leaving them at the front door, I headed to the locker rooms. No lockers, no boxes to keep my clothes in. My clothes and gym bar were left on the floor and my mind was worrying about leaving my personal belongings “exposed”.
What I figured out that day was…
1. You don’t have to wear fancy fitness clothes – but you need solid lifting shoes
Everybody has favourite sports shirts, pants and shoes to wear. And my favourite items were the ones I grabbed for my first Crossfit session. Why? To look good of course!
The class started, the whole group stood in a circle and I had to check out my male and female colleagues were wearing. Of course they looked good, but a normal black shirt combined with tights and usual sneakers seemed just fine. That’s what made me start to feel uncomfortable. Probably they started questioning themselves from which fancy fitness centre I am coming from.Luckily this unpleasant nervousness were interrupted by a friendly smile from a girl who was also training there and my beginners “butterflies” were gone right away.
“I looked up to the whiteboard. What do all those terms, words and numbers mean? Crossfit has its own language for sure. You can either study it before or just let the sport itself teaches you along the way!”
Conclusion: What I realized during the workout was that I need good stable, lifting shoes, and not the newest trending sneakers on the market.
2. Yes you can scale – weight, performance and resistance, not the reps though
The first WOD included rowing and burpees, terms I knew before (yeah). We started the workout with a warm-up and practised kettlebell swings. Although I never did the swings before, I felt quite confident because of my sporting background. What I didn’t know was: once the WOD starts, there’s no time for questions! The next thing I remember was me rowing and doing burpees, and trying to, well survive. Of course I could adjust the resistance of the rowing machine, but not my body weight for doing burpees though.
After realizing what’s going on, I motivated myself: I knew I can do it, but also I can stop doing it if I feel to exhausted. Just before the end I heard the voice from the coach behind my shoulder “You can do it! Keep on going! You’re almost done!”.
“Well, all others were done and he was behind be, no way to give up now! I am an athlete!”
Just a few seconds after this moment I found myself in the locker room, splashing water into my face over the sink and gasping for breath. Is Crossfit just too hard or I am too weak?
Conclusion: As a beginner rather start with less resistance or lower weight and try to be fast instead!
3. Don’t even start using heavy weights unless you feel secure with the technique
For my second session, front squats were on the schedule. Good for me, I love squats! If at least there wouldn’t be this heavy bar on my shoulders which made me keep falling forward. Within 15 minutes everybody had to find their max weight for completing 3 rep. Of course everybody loaded up the bar with these huge plates. I was the only one with the tiny red ones, so right before the end I exchanged the small ones with the huge black ones… It just looked better.
The problem for me wasn’t doing a squat itself, it was the clean (loading the bar). Because of doing planks and push-ups frequently, I thought my arms, shoulders and wrists are strong and solid, but this exercise brought me back to reality. “That’s why you don’t pull but rather use the momentum” the coach said.
Of course we practised cleans beforehand, but still my wrists started to hurt just like my collarbone where I received the bar.
Conclusion: Next time using the empty bar will be just fine and more than enough for a beginner!
4. Who said Crossfit Girls are all bulky?
Crossfit is all about functional movement but at the same time it’s about lifting a lot of weights too. When I looked up at some famous Crossfit girls like Camille, Annie or Sam I kind of got scared. They look great for sure and not bulky at all, but they got lots of muscles everywhere. I like it on them, but would I like it on myself?
When I trained in the box later on, my view on that changed quickly. Of course there are some female athletes with a big pack of muscles, but their focus is on weightlifting. In one session the girl that could lift the heaviest weight was concurrently the thinnest. Sure she had muscles, not bulky ones though, but lean ones!
Conclusion: You become just as big as you want to!
5. Never forget your drink, otherwise you will well almost die!
The day I planned to go to Crossfit for the first time was a busy one and of course I forgot my drink. As I arrived and realized I just thought “Hey, how hard can it be? When I go for a run I have nothing to drink either.”
After WOD, when hanging over the sink that first day I hated myself for not having anything to drink with me. Although the next sessions got better, my conclusion was: always have something to drink!
“After 6 weeks of training, I know Crossfit a lot better – as well as myself!”
So here are my tips for beginners:
1. It doesn’t matter how you look like, nobody cares about your new shoes.
2. You can scale the weight, performance and resistance, but not the reps!
3. After getting to know all the Crossfit terms, you will definitely know what the hieroglyphics on the panel actually mean.
4. You will not be able to load up the weight with a wrong technique (probably you will be able, but get seriously injured soon)
5. Your body will turn out however you want it to look like. If you don’t want to get bulky, you won’t!
Now I hope you read the article before your first session, otherwise you will probably find yourself in it as well.
And don’t worry: Nobody will steal your shoes behind the front door!