CrossFit is for anyone
Seven degrees removed, the chances you know someone in Boulder who does CrossFit are pretty high. That’s because the CrossFit community is a very small and connected one, especially considering Boulder is such a fitness-focused city. CrossFitters of all shapes, sizes, ages, and abilities find that each workout (known as a WOD, or Workout Of the Day) not only changes their bodies, but those workouts have the potential to also change their lives. For women, particularly.
I joined CrossFit Roots’ Womens-Only class when I moved to Boulder last September. Honestly, I was terrified, having heard how hard the workouts are. Impossible. That’s what I often thought when I wondered if I could do CrossFit. Especially considering the names of their movements: power cleans, snatches, thrusters and muscle-ups, for example.
The CrossFit terms for powerful, benchmark moves are very intimidating, but there’s something quite rewarding about mastering a new move that sounds like it should be able to crush a compact car. I’m looking at you, dead lifts and push jerks. It’s also emotionally, mentally and physically rewarding to do a WOD that is dedicated to a fallen soldier or servicemen — a standard practice for the CrossFit family across the nation. It’s a humbling experience, to say the least, to complete a WOD that pays tribute to someone who was killed in the line of duty.
Eric and Melissa Roza, owners of Crossfit Sanitas put it this way: “CrossFit is the most fun and effective workout on the planet.” According to Melissa, who started CrossFit after the birth of her twins, she and her husband, Eric, have seen CrossFit improve dozens of lives over the years, among her friends and colleagues.
Despite the tough-sounding moves, soul-testing Hero WODs, and female-named benchmark WODs that test skill and endurance, women haven’t stopped joining their local CrossFit gyms. If anything, more and more women, who range from their mid-twenties to their late sixties, are signing up and showing up to support one another and themselves in the pursuit of living healthfully and feeling awesome.
As someone who loves fitness and has lost about 65 pounds over the past few years from lifting weights, running, and TRX (while living with asthma), I knew CrossFit was going to be the best workout of my life. If only I would survive, that is. It’s been seven straight months, and I continue to go back, filled equally with dread and love. More love than dread, as I have seen improvement and recognize I’m getting better at some of the more challenging moves. I am motivated by knowing I will be tested every single day, but there is no greater feeling than leaving the CrossFit gym after you’ve conquered your self-doubt to complete a tough workout. Talk about a confidence booster!
What makes CrossFit different from other fitness approaches?
CrossFit champions a fitness approach that focuses on constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity. And by constantly varied, you are challenging your mind and body through different movements in different combinations on different days. The intensity comes from the speed in which you perform these movements, along with distance and weight.
What’s really beneficial about CrossFit is that the movements you perform in the gym are the ones you perform in real life: squatting to pick up your toddler, carrying bags of groceries into your house, or lifting and placing bins of winter gear in the back of your closet at the first blush of spring. Yes, those Sion-crushing power moves do serve a purpose in your everyday life. Even America’s favorite trainer, Bob Harper, is new to CrossFit and is quick to point out how CrossFit can help you become the best well-rounded athlete you can be.
While it’s understandable to be intimidated by CrossFit, you can work at your own ability and pace, scaling movements and weight to what’s comfortable for you. You do not have to be a medal-winning athlete to do CrossFit. In my Womens-Only class, the majority of the ladies are moms, with both young or grown kids. They continue to inspire me, as they push themselves each class. I’ve seen them get stronger, faster, leaner. Karen, a CrossFit Roots member and classmate of mine, is a shining example of how CrossFit can change you in a short period of time:
A Boulder resident for nearly two decades, Karen started CrossFit around the same time I did. When I asked her how it has changed her well-being, she was a quick to mention, “I’ve lost some weight and gotten much stronger. I have a unique set of circumstances in that I had a knee replacement and I didn’t think I could endure CrossFit training. The coaches are very tuned in to my specific needs, yet they don’t let me off the hook when they are confident I can do an activity safely.”
I know it sounds ridiculous, but when I first decided to try CrossFit I was definitely afraid of being judged negatively by people in the class. You see, I mistakenly assumed that CrossFit was mostly for athletes who were actively training for athletic competitions.
Karen is one of the ladies of CrossFit who continue to inspire me. Along with her, the other ladies in the class help each of us do our best every class. CrossFit serves as a great mirror, to reflect upon yourself and examine your self-belief and self-compassion. For Karen, in four short months of doing CrossFit, she has learned so much about herself: “On the difficult days, I’ve learned to be less hard on myself – like when I can’t do as many reps or lift as much weight as I had hoped. At 58, I’m one of the oldest in the class and I have some weight to lose, but I still consider myself to be athletic. I know it sounds ridiculous, but when I first decided to try CrossFit I was definitely afraid of being judged negatively by people in the class. You see, I mistakenly assumed that CrossFit was mostly for athletes who were actively training for athletic competitions. Instead, what I found was that CrossFit embraces people of all ages, shapes and sizes who believe that proper instruction, support and encouragement will help them achieve their own personal goals. They pay it forward and I love that!”
Beyond the individual, Crossfit focuses on community. To me, that’s one of the coolest aspects of belonging. For example, CrossFit gyms not only focus on family with big membership celebrations, they also host fundraisers for a variety of reasons, such as raising money to build a school and CrossFit gym in Kenya, or as CrossFit Ruya recently did, raise money to support great causes like the Wounded Warrior Project. According to Eric of Crossfit Sanitas, CrossFit helps create awareness and raise money for great causes. In the next couple months, for example, Crossfit Sanitas will hold fundraising dinners and silent auctions for two local schools. And I’ve attended several fundraising efforts at CrossFit Roots, including the Barbell for Boobs WOD to raise money for breast cancer research.
So, why is Crossfit such a community-focused sport? Why do the local gyms care so much about their members?
Caleb, head coach at CrossFit Sanitas, puts it this way, “CrossFit draws a certain type of person – humble, driven, committed to self-improvement. At the same time, CrossFit changes you – as you come in to workout with the same group of people, you inspire one another and achieve new goals, beyond your prior possibilities. In the process, deep bonds are formed.”
CrossFit gyms are on the rise. What started in 2000 by Greg Glassman has grown to more than 4,400 CrossFit affiliated gyms, most of which are in the United States. Boulder offers several local CrossFit choices for novices and veterans alike, from Flatirons CrossFit and CrossFit Roots to CrossFit Ruya and CrossFit Sanitas, the latter two being the newer gyms in the community.
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