One of the first questions I get asked when people find out I do CrossFit is “Do you have to be in really good shape to join?”. Or “I couldn’t do a pull-up to save my life, do you really think I could do it?”. Or “Everybody seems like they are in such good shape, I feel like I would be out of place”.
I wanted to address some of the reasons why I do actually think everyone can start CrossFit and make it amazing. I fully realize that CrossFit is not for everyone and there are going to be people who just don’t enjoy it, simply can’t afford it or won’t try it, so this post is obviously not for you. What I do know, however, is that there are so many people out there who are intrigued by it or may have these concerns but not know who to ask. This is for you.
Let me repeat. This post is about CrossFit. If you aren’t interested or don’t care or think that all CrossFitters are completely nuts, please don’t read this and tell me I should be posting about something else.
Not everyone is the Fittest on Earth
Especially with the CrossFit Games fast approaching, the majority of pictures you see are of super crazy fit CrossFit athletes lifting more weight than you could ever possibly imagine. What you don’t see that often are the rest of us toiling away in our little gyms, sweating and failing and trying again and falling down and celebrating small successes and 5-pound personal records and quietly enjoying the fact that our clothes fit a little better. These are the people in your local gym, not necessarily the uber-athletes you see on TV. If they do happen to be in your gym, lucky you.
You don’t have to be perfect
Every single exercise, gymnastics move or Olympic lift can be scaled or modified. Every single programmed workout can be tailored to your abilities. Push-ups and pull-ups have several different modifications, from super beginner to veteran. I could be lifting 55 pounds, the person next to me lifting 95 pounds and you could be lifting 15 pounds. It’s all based on your level of fitness and EVERYONE is somewhere different. You will have a coach helping you push past your perceived limitations and learn where you are at in your fitness, but you decide what you are comfortable with.
No legitimate comparisons to be had
While you are working out alongside several other athletes, you are bound to compare your abilities. Healthy competition is totally fine and can be helpful for you to push past your barriers, but there is no legitimate way to truly compare. Everyone in your gym will have different goals, be coming from a different fitness background, have different strengths and weaknesses and have a different amount of time they can (or want to) commit to the gym. CrossFit offers so many different workouts that everyone will find something they are strong at and something they need to work on. It’s all about celebrating each others’ strengths.
You will NOT get bored
One of the taglines of CrossFit is “Constantly Varied”. The goal is to keep your body guessing and never let it plateau. If you have ever struggled to stick with a fitness program because you lose interest, your weight loss flattens out or you get bored, CrossFit might be the solution for you. There is so much variation and change from workout to workout and day to day. I have worked on handstands, thrown a football around for warm-up, ran a 5K, lifted some crazy weight, jumped rope, carried another woman on my back, ran wheelbarrow races and climbed up a wall with my feet. NOT boring.
CrossFit is functional fitness for, you know, function
Have you ever struggled with some of the tasks that get you through the day? Have you ever had a hard time picking up your 40-pound 2-year old? Is that just me? Have you ever been at Lowe’s or Costco and tried to pick up a large bag of fertilizer or dog food and just couldn’t make it happen? Are you exhausted most days just getting out of bed in the morning? Because CrossFit isn’t training you for one specific sport or focusing on the same set of movements day in and day out, you will find that your daily tasks get easier to manage. Picking up your children will be easier, hauling your groceries into the house will be easier. Heck, standing in the kitchen for an hour making dinner will be easier. You will have more energy for everything you try to do. You may even try to do more than you thought you could, just because you’re feeling good.
Encouragement and motivation all day long
Have you ever been to a traditional gym and had people standing next to you cheering you on while you run or walk on the treadmill? Yeah, me neither. Classes might be a little different, but I’ve found the majority of people are there for themselves. Get in, work out and get out. While there is nothing wrong with this, I never really found myself pushed past my limits in this environment. It’s too easy to fade into the background.
Whether you are first to finish the workout in CrossFit or dead stinking last, people are rooting for you and cheering you on. Regardless of your fitness level, your fellow gym members want to see you succeed. We celebrate people who set personal records and people who just plain finish the workout without passing out. If you have ever watched a workout in CrossFit Regionals or the Games, you will notice that the athletes who finish first don’t go off and celebrate with the media. They stand close to their competitors and cheer them on to the finish line. The results of my workouts are why I continue to go to the gym, but the encouraging community is the reason I stay at CrossFit.
Accomplishing something you never thought possible
Before starting CrossFit, I thought I was in pretty good shape. While I may have been lean and somewhat fit, I had NO idea what my body was capable of. I would have gone my whole life without doing a single pull-up, would have never climbed a rope to the ceiling and may have never picked up a jump rope again. The thought of all those things brought back uncomfortable memories of middle school gym class. What I’m realizing now is that my body was always capable of those things, I just needed the right push. I needed someone to tell me I could.
Just walking in to the gym for the first time felt like an accomplishment. Finishing my first full work out was an accomplishment. Getting a compliment about my lifting technique was an accomplishment. Seriously, I have lifting technique? Fantastic. Getting my first pull-up without assistance made me shriek like a pterodactyl. Running a 5K without stopping was a huge accomplishment. Once I actually complete this 12-mile Tough Mudder, I’ll call it an insane accomplishment. I can almost guarantee you that your body is capable of more than you think. Find your inner confidence. And your inner warrior.
Hopefully this answers some questions you may have or put some of your fears to rest. While I love our local gym and would love to see you all there, it might be a bit of a commute for some. A good place to start in finding a local gym is the main CrossFit website. Most gyms offer free intro classes to get you in the door. If you don’t feel a good vibe at the first gym you try out, try a different one. Good coaches and head coaches make a world of difference. Ask friends, ask on Facebook, ask that girl you always see walking around in a CrossFit sweatshirt.
And remember. Everyone was new once. Everyone felt like you probably feel right now.
Question: What is the one thing that is holding you back from reaching your fitness goals? If you are currently a member of CrossFit, did I leave anything out? What is the main thing that keeps you coming back?
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. When you click on these links, you are supporting this blog. Thanks!