Some may look at my scraped up shins or my bruised collarbone and say, “what are you doing to yourself girl?” My response is usually a proud one, “CrossFit”. I proudly post my PRs or various workouts on social media. The heavier the lift, more intense the workout, the better reason to share it. While this may be motivating for some, others may feel this is just the craziest thing that they could never imagine themselves doing. While I’m proud to share these moments, is this what makes CrossFit so intimidating for many other women?
I’ve heard it all: it’s not for me, it’s too intense, too athletic, too competitive, too dangerous or too whatever. What women don’t realize is that there are so many reasons why CrossFit is so right for women of all shapes, sizes and ages.
For years I struggled to stay active. I joined a gym and didn’t go much more than 10 times per year. I ran a half marathon. Fun to train for but once I did it, I couldn’t get myself to do it again. I experimented with Yoga but didn’t feel that it was enough of a workout for me. I even did a whole number of home workouts, Tae-Bo, P90X, Brazilian Butt Lift and even Hip Hop Abs… (I know, right?). The problem was that I couldn’t stay motivated to continue.
Then I heard about CrossFit and decided to give it a try. That was more than 2 years ago. Let me break down some of the reasons why you should give it a try and debunk some of the fears you may have.
It’s intense. Yes it is. Probably the hardest workout you’ll ever do, but you know what? You start slow. Most CrossFit gyms have you start with a foundations class. They teach the various lifts and coach you through proper positioning and technique. They walk you through your first WOD (work out of the day) and help scale your weight level to the intensity you are comfortable with. Trainers want you to work hard, but not hurt yourself.
You will get “bulky” or look like a man. The muscular women of CrossFit we see in the media are lifting huge weights and training more than 1 hour a day with super strict diets plans. Their goal: big strength gains. Working out an hour a day and let’s be honest, grabbing a breakfast bagel on your way into work because you’re starving from today’s WOD is not going to get you looking bulky. Unless that’s what you want to achieve, you’ll need to be on a pretty strict plan to do so.
I’m not good enough for CrossFit. I remember my first WOD. The class was filled with men and women of all shapes and sizes. I worked out along side a 53-year-old woman and a 55-year-old man. Is CrossFit for the elite? Not from where I was standing, not for the everyday people who want to stay strong and be healthy. The only things elite about these athletes were their attitudes.
It’s too competitive. There’s a white board where you’ll record your time and you can choose whether you want to compare yourself to others. When you start out, you’ll most likely be in awe of what all the other females in your box can do and maybe eventually, you’ll feel a spark of competitiveness. It might be when you’re trying to make that final round for time. Finding the balance of confidence and acquired skill, meeting the cheers head-on by pushing through a previous threshold. You’ll feel great, motivated and encouraged to try your hardest. That motivation will create friendships, a sense of community, and gets you thinking about when you’re going to get to do it all again.
I don’t want to hurt myself. Like any sport or exercise regimen, there is always a risk of injury. CrossFit classes are programmed to balance your working effort and your coach is monitoring you closely. In my opinion this is safer than working out at home or at the gym without an educated trainer correcting your technique and form. The important thing to remember is to ask for help. If you’re not sure how to perform a move, ask how it’s done. If you’re not comfortable with a movement, ask how you can modify it.
You gotta go full Paleo, bro. It’s no secret a Paleo diet has value with high intensity workouts but you won’t be forced to eat a certain way. You may find after doing a few months of CrossFit, you’ll want to lift a little heavier, have more energy or want to focus on reducing inflammation. You may learn about the benefits of eating a Paleo diet at CrossFit, but it’s entirely up to you. You may however want to visit the pizza place on the corner at off peak times to avoid bumping into anyone 😉
My favourite thing about CrossFit is that I have a community of all sorts of women who understand the importance of making time for themselves. Many women I know have said it has changed every aspect of their lives. The way they eat, sleep, and think about their bodies (yes, you eventually stop looking at the scale).
I’m not going to evangelize you into joining CrossFit since it is NOT a cult, but who could resist sharing such an experience with others. Ladies, don’t be intimidated by CrossFit, let it empower you and maybe even make you a little bad ass.
Written from the lifting platform,
Co-Founder, Anna Care.