Over the years, between the 200-pound version of myself and now, I have tried MANY different options in the area of fitness. Out of all those, only a few have become part of my routine to this very day: running, cycling, and CrossFit. Now hear me…..I don’t believe that CrossFit is the only way to go or that all other fitness options are useless, that’s not what I’m saying here at all. The biggest struggle in fitness, or in any exercise program, for that matter…is finding one you love. You’ve got to find something that when hitting the snooze on an early morning alarm or the urge to just drive straight home from work begins to take over, that you are committed enough to stick to the plan. Five to six days a week I show up for the day’s programming alongside a class full of friends. Here’s why for me personally, CrossFit is the real deal.
Organized classes with a coach. In most CF gyms, the class is planned out for you. Warmup, strength, and a metcon (think cardio-ish here) are all programmed and listed out ahead for you. No need in deciding what you’ll do beforehand, this is all predetermined. In addition, this also keeps you from gravitating towards your own strengths and makes you work your weaknesses. Each class is run by a coach who will help you understand movements and hold you accountable. Although the coaches are not nutritionists, they recognize that nutrition is key in combination with exercise for impacting health, and thus it is a topic of regular discussion in class.
Endorphins, baby. I love the way endless new combinations of movements in CF can produce challenging results. Nothing like pushing yourself to new limits, releasing stress, and making yourself healthier. Study after study has shown the emotional benefits of regular exercise on top of what you can see physically on the outside. For me, I began celebrating the fact that I was doing things, overcoming things that I had been led to believe I wasn’t able to do. Talk about a mental shift!
Tracking successes. Keeping a journal, paper or electronic, is highly encouraged. When things get tough, looking back on what you’ve accomplished can help you push on through. Tracking workouts also encourages attendance as you measure progression towards your goals. The key here is to embrace your own journey rather than comparing yourself to others.
No suffering alone. I think this just might be my favorite aspect of CrossFit. You can’t help but bond with those you attend class with. Miss a few classes and you are sure to hear from these folks. During workouts, these are the voices you hear telling you one more rep or pick up that bar. It is often said that the loudest cheers in CrossFit often occur not for the first person to finish, but for the last. High fives and hugs are common following personal bests in strength lifts as well as benchmark workouts. One other item to mention here, is CrossFit’s connection to our nation’s military. Workouts are used to honor sacrifices made by those who have fallen in service to our country. Just this week on Memorial Day, my home gym came together to celebrate Lt. Michael Murphy, otherwise known as Murph, with a workout named in his honor. We remembered, celebrated and suffered together.
Although I’m not quite where I want to be, and I have goals still yet to be achieved….I’m thankful. Right now, in my 40-something season of life, I am proud to say that I am the strongest and the fittest I have ever been. I was not an athletic child by any means, nor did I even have any inclination to workout regularly until into my 30s. Finding a program that challenged my boredom, brought me new friendships and enriched my life outside of the gym, allowed me to make huge changes in my life. Because of CrossFit, I was able to reclaim my heath and change my mindset……and for that I am so very thankful!