The uglier the face you can make, the less chance you’ll have at getting yelled at
(aka: high intensity is the name of the game)
Whenever I find myself wandering aimlessly through Target, I always end up staring (somewhat skeptically) at the women wearing the latest and greatest workout clothes: the expensive low profile shoes, matching baseball caps, and color coordinating tops and bottoms. A large Starbucks coffee usually presents itself in one hand and a giant purse in the other. I once felt compelled to question a lady if she was on her way to, or coming from, the gym.
“Because if you’re leaving the gym, you’re doing it wrong!” I shouted.
No seriously I didn’t say anything.
Suffice it to say that if you leave the gym with your makeup still intact, your hair just as nice as it was walking in, and you’re not somewhat embarrassed by the amount of sweat you’ve just generated, I can promise you the ‘exercise’ you’ve just done will not produce the results you probably want.
After my first (and every subsequent) Crossfit class, I’ve left red-faced, hair frizzing, sometimes wheezing (once vomiting…), and literally soaking wet.
Showering is no longer optional.
Crossfit is, by definition, “constantly varied functional movements performed at relatively high intensity.” In other words, while you’re WODing (don’t worry, I’ll discuss acronyms later), things like water breaks are few and far between.
This is where the ugly face comes in.
It didn’t take me long to register that things like making eye contact with your coach during a workout is a bad thing. Having a conversation with fellow Crossfit comrades is also bad. Smiling is bad.
Why so serious? Because if you have the presence to look around the room to find your coach, you’re not focused enough. If you have enough breath to speak, you’re obviously not working hard enough. And if you make a friendly face–you’re not hurting enough. So, to summarize, if you find yourself mid-workout, and you look at your coach, smile at anybody, and/or speak to anyone, you can expect to be called out.
Or possibly yelled at. (Insert mental image of drill sergeant in Forest Gump bellowing at all the army people)
Instead, try pulling a grotesque face. Preferably at the ceiling or another inanimate object, like the weight you’re trying to lift. Don’t speak—Grunt. Other generally accepted behavior includes
- Throwing up
- Vocalizing your desire to die rather than complete the workout
At some point in your Crossfit journey, you’ll likely be assigned a one-syllable nickname. Because saying “way to go Julz” takes one less syllable than saying “way to go Julie.” And trust me, when you’re gasping for every breath, every syllable you utter is cherished.
You’ll inevitably learn a new language comprised of acronyms and female names.
(aka Crossfit is unique)
I distinctly remember feeling quite alarmed when I read the workout written on the board on the first day my husband and I visited Crossfit Refuge (our current gym).
100 DUs UB
20 HR PUs
Try to go Rx on this 95#/65#
I was initially concerned that this was some kind of cult where everyone speaks in code.
The acronyms make sense quickly enough. Here are a few to show you Crossfit is not actually a cult:
WOD= workout of the day
T2B= Toes to bar
ME = max effort
RX= required weight for the workout
DUs= double unders (jumping rope where the rope passes under your feet twice in one jump)
In addition to learning random abbreviations, Crossfit is also about mastering more than a dozen different weight lifting techniques like the power clean, snatch, deadlift, jerk, push press and back squat. There are other “gymnastics” movements like pull-ups, ring dips, rope climbs, GHD sit-ups, handstand walks, toes to bar, handstand pushups, jump rope, burpees and box jumps that make up the foundation of a Crossfit class.
Crossfit is unique because every day is different; I don’t think I’ve ever repeated the same exact workout twice at my gym. Routine is the enemy. Take running for an example: it was once thought of as the gold standard of exercise, but CONSTANT and frequent running will tend to have less and less effect on those who pound a treadmill an hour or more at a time. Once your body gets used to a certain workout, it adapts and eventually stops responding to it.
There are a few benchmark WODs that are so memorable (that is to say, terrible), that they actually have names. A few of the nastier ones include
#3 Abs are made in the kitchen.
(aka you can’t out-train a bad diet)
I’m sorry to disappoint anyone who has ever purchased an Ab Lounge, but I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter how many sit-ups you do, if your diet is crap you’re never going to see those muscles hiding back there. Some Crossfit coaches may go as far to say that one’s physique is 70% diet, 30% exercise.
Crossfit doesn’t necessarily promote a certain diet, but I would say the majority of the more hardcore athletes follow the Paleo diet. (Paleo in 4 words: eat like a caveman). I however, tend to follow a diet that is free from heavily processed foods (because they can say what they want to about dairy, but they’ll have to pull cheese out of my dead lifeless fingers before I’ll give it up.)
Anything with ingredients you can’t pronounce is out.
For example, if your snack of choice is ever featured on the Science Channel’s show “How It’s Made,” you probably want to pass on that.
My idea about nutrition and health has completely changed since starting Crossfit. I was originally of the mindset of the typical American—that “losing weight” was the answer to being more healthy. But that is actually backwards. Your weight is simply a mirror—reflecting, not a visual image, but a summary of overall wellness. People who eat real food and exercise tend to be leaner than those who spend their lives avoiding movement and eating foods made in factories instead of growing from the ground.
When I saw a meme on Pinterest featuring a muscular young woman with the caption “strong is the new sexy” I was overjoyed. Women who look strong, confident, and healthy are finally gaining popularity over the stick-figure models that once dominated magazines. It’s not about weight. Let me repeat: it’s NOT about weight. I have absolutely no problem disclosing my weight. 140 lbs, to be exact. Now for 5’5, that doesn’t register as “skinny.” But I am strong. According to the dunk tank, I have 18% body fat (which I am pretty proud of).
#4 It’s worth it. The cost. The pain. Everything.
(aka Crossfit is like a second family, not a gym)
My box is particularly awesome about supporting one another--whether it’s cheering for the last person finishing up the WOD, or coming together to do a fundraiser for a member’s family. And I can’t think of many gyms where I have people texting me if I don’t show up for a week—but that’s Crossfit.
There is something so gratifying about my Crossfit family encouraging one another to reach their goals, and noticing when they get there. If Bee (aka Brandi. Please see above note on importance of one-syllable names) ever gets a box jump without jumping up one foot at a time, we’ll probably throw her a party (love you Bee!) And if I can ever run more than 800 meters without sounding like a dying badger, everyone would notice (and most likely be grateful).
I haven’t reached all of my fitness goals, but I’ve come a long way and feel much more independent in a sense. I can easily walk out of Petsmart now in 4-inch heels with a 35lb bag of dog food on my shoulder without breaking a sweat. I don’t have to ask a random stranger at the park to help me lift my 10-foot kayak on top of my car when I get out of the river because I can lift it myself. And everyday life, like going up the stairs or helping friends move, suddenly became a whole lot easier.
But Crossfit is expensive. There’s no way around that. But how many people pay 10, 20, or 40 bucks a month yet never darken the doorstep of a typical Globo Gym? I would hazard a guess at quite a few. But Crossfit isn’t really a gym. It’s a class with certified instructors teaching you every movement. Lots of naysayers will maintain that Crossfit is dangerous (usually because of the weights—maintaining that weight machines are superior to free lifting). What IS dangerous is bad coaching, bad form, and big egos. And Crossfit doesn’t have machines. You ARE the machine.