Have you hit a wall in your pursuit of fitness? I understand; I'd say I ran headlong into mine about two years ago.
And until I discovered CrossFit, I just kept beating my head against it.
I maintained my same monotonous cardio-abs-weights routine, day after day, until the old phrase "familiarity breeds contempt" became the story of my life. I dreaded going to the gym, but I forced myself to keep going because I wanted to stay fit and trim. Problem was, I wasn't getting any more fit or any more trim. I was completely stagnant, frustrated and bored. But I was reluctant (read: too afraid/ignorant/stubborn) to try something new.
Isn't that another old phrase? Something about the definition of insanity being, doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results?
Well, CrossFit certainly seemed insane to me at first. Walk into a room full of strangers swinging kettlebells, heaving medicine balls up on a wall, squatting with huge barbells hoisted straight above their heads and whipping jumpropes around at warp speed, and any long-time treadmill junkie is bound to feel intimidated. Cue the soundtrack in my head: This does not look like something I'd be good at, so...see ya!
But I gave CrossFit a chance, and haven't looked back. Everything that was lacking in my old routine, CrossFit has in spades.
It has: variety (we do everything from Olympic weightlifting to burpees and box jumps); suspense and surprise (we never know what we're doing that day until we get there); limitless challenges (we increase our weight or try to improve our time as we get more advanced); community (classes are a great way to meet and compete against people of different ages and fitness levels); and yes, it has results (not to brag, but I've dropped two jeans sizes in the past three months.)
Every CrossFit workout feels like an adventure. I bet -- nay, I guarantee -- you can't say that about your cardio routine or your spinning or yoga class.
Maybe you've heard enough at this point and want to jump right in? You're wondering where you can go to start this adventure? My husband and I train at, and highly recommend, Wellness Solution Centers in Newtown (shout-out to resident experts Vinny and Eric) and Bucks Elite Fitness in Doylestown (shout-out to owner Dawn).
But no matter where you live, you can find a Cross Fit "box," as they're called, nearby. They'reeverywhere. Search the nationwide directory here.
...Or maybe you'd like some more information. Read on.
What exactly is CrossFit? It's a methodology -- a belief system you buy into, not a product you buy -- built on the theory that the best, most well-conditioned and versatile athletes don't specialize in any one skill. They're not just good at one thing; they're constantly working to improve their endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility...everything it takes to be a highly functioning human.
Here's a quote from the official CrossFit website: "Our program delivers a fitness that is, by design, broad, general, and inclusive. Our specialty is not specializing. Combat, survival, many sports, and life reward this kind of fitness and, on average, punish the specialist."
In the simplest, most basic terms, CrossFit aims to prepare you for anything.
That could be running a marathon. It could be wrestling on your school's varsity team. It could be playing softball in a co-ed rec league. It could be working as a police officer or fighting in the military. It could be competing in the CrossFit Games -- but that's at the way far end of the spectrum. How about just shoveling snow without keeling over? How about recovering from an injury or improving your posture? CrossFit can help anyone achieve any kind of goal -- physical or mental.
At our CrossFit classes, my husband and I work out alongside high school kids, young adults, senior citizens, folks who've fallen off the fitness wagon and folks who have, like me, become unwitting specialists in one area of fitness or another. Dawn at Bucks Elite Fitness even runs a CrossFit Kids program -- and boy, do I wish I'd been involved in something like that as a high school athlete. Everyone in the class does the WOD, or Workout of the Day, together. But each modifies it according to his/her fitness or experience level.
There are always new movements to learn, and sometimes, to fail at. But learning, and yes, even failing, keeps it interesting and makes it fun. (I'm saying that through clenched teeth, but I'm still saying it.)
Bottom line: If you're the type of person who tends to play it safe, falls easily into a routine and has reached a point in your pursuit of fitness where the comfort zone just isn't cutting it anymore, I'm here to tell you, CrossFit is the challenge you know you need. I'm like Natalie Portman in the movie "Garden State," passing her headphones to Zach Braff and assuring him The Shins will change his life. But instead of trying to sell you on indie rock (and being Hollywood cute), I'm pushing squats and cleans and handstand push-ups as a means of broadening your horizons and bursting your complacent little bubble. And I'd like to think I'm a little bit cuter now that I started on this program...
But seriously, CrossFit can lead to a whole new way of looking at life. You learn to feel the fear and do it anyway, and if that isn't a gateway to a better overall existence, I don't know what is.
So, that's it. You're informed, enlightened and motivated; now it's time to go try it out. Right now, please. An open mind is a terrible thing to waste.
That's an old phrase with a new spin. See? I'm making progress.
Photos courtesy of Eric Pirrone and Dawn Bancroft