So. I've heard a lot about crossfit on here and other places, and I'm seriously considering signing up for a class. Frankly, I'm nervous: I'm really out of shape and have never done the "gym" thing (though I know crossfit is pretty different from a normal gym!). I've heard from people who've started crossfit who have been somewhat fit already... can anyone offer their experiences about coming to crossfit with no experience in fitness whatsoever? What was it like? As an out of shape beginner, do you think it's a good idea to jump in, or should I seek out some lower-intensity training? I really want to work my way to fitness, but I don't want to do something that I can't handle (physically or mentally) and will just quit.
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on January 28, 2011
at 05:55 PM
I was out of shape when starting Crossfit. I'd been obese and had lost some 60 - 70 pounds, and wanted to give Crossfit a try. I had never been athletic. Oh my. It was hard, but fun.
My suggestion is to START SLOW! There is no shame in scaling. I've been going almost two years and still scale. I'm also in my 50s and know that though I fantasize about being as good as younger, more athletic folks, I have to respect my body's persnicketyness.
Working on good form is incredibly important, so take your time to get comfortable with the movements. I do know that I am/was prone to joint issues and had to be careful. I was getting very frustrated with my lack of squat ability. I made a determined effort late last year not to give up. I started working diligently on getting good form (depth, chest up), plus doing Kelly Starrett's mobilitywod.com exercises. Wow. What a difference. Working on my hip flexibility has fixed the knee pain. Tonight we'll be doing back squats and I know that the weight I lift will be done with decent form. It may still be lighter than the others around me, but I'll be thrilled.
I've been eating very clean this month and it has made a difference too. If you're paleo/primal this will help a lot!
I love the Crossfit community, and if anyone had told me three years ago that I'd be going to a gym and lifting barbells, running and rowing, AND doing push-ups and pull-ups all in ONE workout, I would have thought them insane. Now I look forward to it.
on January 29, 2011
at 10:20 AM
55 yo female, 5'4" 330 pounds - yes, 330 - with a myriad of health problem as you can imagine. Have a 20 year old hip replacement and doc tells me I need a new knee now as well. Started a path that included CF because I met the instructor and the class was convenient. Started Paleo just before Christmas and have been clean only since first of year. When I started CF, I could not do a single one of any thing. Everything was scaled drastically. Much still is; however, last night I did 30 inclined push ups, 50 squats, and 100 knee lifts. Within the next 4-5 weeks I expect to hit 100 pound weight loss. Off half of my meds, knee only gives me problems intermittently. What do you think... should you check into CF????
on January 28, 2011
at 06:22 PM
It is the best thing I've ever done for myself. I was 32 years old, never had been athletic (ever!) in my life, I was overweight and very out of shape when I first walked in the door. I was terrified. It's just over a year later and I still have to scale most things, but I've done things in the past year that I would never could have dreamed I would be capable of doing. There is no shame at all in scaling, as a matter of fact it is a necessity to learn how to do the more complex movements and lifts safely and with good form. Yes, ease into it! I would go to a class, then when I could walk again without too much pain (usually about 3 days later) I would go to another class. Before you know it, you're regularly at 3 or 4 classes a week (or more).
Things to look for: a thorough "on-ramp" or "foundations" class - whatever that box might call it. Trainers who will work with you to establish your baseline of fitness...and then push you out of your comfort zone on a regular basis. A supportive community atmosphere between the members and the coaches - if you have several different affiliates where you live, talk to each one about coming in to observe a class, see which one feels right. It's these factors that really made this a life changing experience for me.
In addition, yes to the paleo eating - I was inconsistent with my diet most of last year and recently stepped it up significantly. My performance and recovery times have increased exponentially since then. Also consider taking fish oil supplements, they helped my recovery significantly when I first started.
You won't know til you try.
on January 28, 2011
at 08:19 PM
I started CrossFit 8 months ago or so. I was out of shape, though not necessarily fat or even overweight. I truly cannot recommend it more than enough, but I would take extra special care to be kind to your self mentally and emotionally as you go through this, particularly in the first few months.
All the commenters above me have rightly noted the importance of scaling. But in my experience I found that being able to scale emotionally and mentally is just as important as choosing the right amount of weight and number of reps. It seems obvious to say, but it's essential to realize that you're competing against yourself and not against others.
As obvious as this is though, it can sometimes be very difficult to remember during the course of a workout. In my early days and months (hell, even today) I had many a workout where it became extremely difficult to keep that in perspective. You're training alongside elite athletes and even non-elite athletes that just seem to power through the workout, and when you're struggling through just that first round, or that first set, it can seem very demoralizing. And something about the high-intensity nature of a CrossFit workout seems to supercharge my emotions, so when negative emotions such as self-doubt or anger over how out-of-shape I've let myself get start flowing, CrossFit seems to ensure that these emotions are really strong.
I don't say any of this to turn you off. CrossFit has absolutely changed my life. When I started I couldn't deadlift the bar due to a chronic bad back. Now I'm nearly d/l'ing 200lbs and I haven't had trouble with my back in a months. I've even started playing adult beginner ice-hockey, something I never could have considered a year ago.
So perhaps not everyone goes through this kind of emotional roller coaster. But I simply bring this up as a reminder that if you're starting from ground zero, this might prove to be a challenging ride not just physically, but emotionally and mentally as well. Keep that in mind, keep that in perspective, and bottom line, just keep coming back, regardless of how you feel after one workout or another. If you do you'll truly thank yourself as you'll be strengthening all of these parts of yourself.
on January 28, 2011
at 08:26 PM
I never liked organized exercise very much. I like the idea of being active, and I have a full body bodyweight workout that I do 3x a week at work, but the idea of going to a gym or "box" or whatever and exercising seems really unappealing. The thought of going to a gym makes me think of this:
on January 28, 2011
at 06:03 PM
If you go to crossfit in your condition you must:
Explain to the instructor, in detail, your fitness levels AND your concerns about joining crossfit (this will ensure that s/he is fully appraised of your situation)
Don't be tempted, in the beginning, to 'kill' yourself... ease into it over a number of weeks/months
Eat primal/paleo and this will help your fitness enormously....
It could well be the best thing you will ever do for yourself, but you will have to build up slowly, before you know it you will be surprising yourself...
Good luck, mac
on February 16, 2011
at 02:57 PM
I was terrified the first time I walked through those doors. I was 300 pounds at 5'7...my thoughts were, can i do this? Will the trainer just think I'm to difficult to train? Will the other member's laugh at me as I work out? All this proved to be just the opposite. I'm 1 1/2 yrs into my training and Im down 60 pounds with about 50 more to go. Sometimes the biggest battle isn't physical for us...but mental...you can do it!
on January 28, 2011
at 05:43 PM
Most good Crossfit boxes offer a "Foundations" course that is designed to ease beginners into the programming. The course will run you through all the basic movements and gradually increase the intensity so you'll be ready to transition into regular WODs. I'd recommend you look into that.
Ultimately, Crossfit is a tool. All tools are beneficial if used correctly, and most are harmful if used incorrectly. Crossfit is a good general conditioning program and great at increasing broad work capacity - but it's not for everyone. The only way to know for sure is to try it!
Some important questions to ask as you explore it further: Do you like the coaches? Do you like the other people training there? Do you dig the atmosphere? You're probably not just looking for a place to work out... you're looking for a fun supportive community too.
Best of luck with your training!
on March 22, 2012
at 11:39 PM
I haven't done Crossfit but I've read up a lot on it; keeping that in mind, here's an alternate viewpoint:
There's no "right" or "wrong" way to exercise per se, but there are more and less effective ways, and more or less safe ways. Clearly if you participate in a CrossFit program you're going to improve in strength; in a basic sense that's what people are looking for, and Crossfit's certainly not the worst way to go about it.
Here are some things I like about Crossfit: It has a wide variety of exercises, which for some people may help keep them "into" the program, less chance of boredom. If muscle confusion works, then Crossfit definitely has that going for it. The whole "out of the box" feel is very appealing to some people, especially in the Paleo community, which for better or worse loves to do things that go against conventional wisdom (no soap, no shoes, etc.).
Here are some things I don't like: Many popular Crossfit exercises (squats, kettlebells, medicine balls, kipping pull-ups, rope climbs) seem like they have a pretty high potential for injury. Free weights are no more effective than machines (citation needed), but it's a lot easier to drop something/hurt yourself when it's just you and the metal, especially with big weights. And any exercise where you're moving fast and jerking is a recipe for pulling something. Second, there's good fatigue and bad fatigue. If you feel like throwing up, that's bad fatigue. A workout should stimulate your body, but not flood it with cortisol. Also, Crossfit usually gets you on a 3-5 days on, 2-4 days off schedule. If you're working out enough to make a real impact on your body, working out every other day is way too much. Lastly, the whole schtick about "functional strength" is a little silly. My bicep strength is just as "functional" if I got it from a biceps machine as it would be if I got it on a pull-up bar. It's not like machines only make your muscles stronger on a certain angle but if you try to do something real you're actually weak.
It seems a bit like CrossFit is taking a "carpet bomb" approach to exercise - you might hit all the targets, but you probably hit a few churches too. To use a nutrition metaphor, CrossFit is akin to just eating a varied diet and assuming you'll hit all your nutrient needs as a result. Sometimes that's right, but I prefer to track my nutrients and eat a diet that's guaranteed to give me all the nutrients I need. Which is why I do:
HIT. HIT appeals to me because it's a safe, effective workout based on principles of muscle growth. You do an exercise slowly, on machines, 1 set, high weight, and to failure. You do it 1-2 times a week, and you track your progress according to weight and time under load. There's a lot less potential for injury, there's more time for recovery, you're in the gym for 15-30 minutes a week, and the effectiveness has been documented by several studies.
So, is CrossFit "wrong"? No, and for many people it's a good choice. However, I think HIT is a safer and more effective way to build muscle.
on February 16, 2011
at 06:05 PM
Crossfit has been the bomb dot com! I just hate the monotony of a gym routine, and crossfit was an answer for strength issues. I'm a chiropractor, so had a pretty good idea of what's healthy and needed for a human being to flourish, and crossfit hits them all with FUNCTIONAL fitness that can be used in the way you move throughout life, not just puffy muscles for the mirror.
My only "con" against crossfit is that it can be pushed too much, too fast, and injuries can result. I also believe rest days aren't adequate for a beginner. I mean, you'll be sore for A WEEK after one 20 minute session. In the beginning, you may not need to do the prescribed exercise day after day. I do a hard crossfit session one day, and a easier jog or bike the next day.
Bottom line: recommended!
on February 15, 2011
at 12:58 AM
Being afraid of cross fit is normal; you're not sure what your body can do especially if your fitness is sub-par. For me the biggest obstacle was, quite frankly, making my lack of fitness very public.
I started CF four weeks ago - took the fundamentals course where we learned form and skills. Safety and the idea of making the workout fit the person were paramount. Everything could be scaled appropriately so even a schlub like me could finish the workouts.I told the staff of my limitations (joints and cardiac) and they have been extraordinarily good at helping me scale and stay motivated in starting this new life. Shout out to Verve Denver!!
Crossfit is an odd combination of irrational fear (think of gym class in elementary school as the chubby) and liberating acceptance of the fact that you are willing to go beyond what you are. That you have started is truly the biggest fight already won.
Keep us posted.
on January 30, 2011
at 12:14 AM
i dont do crossfit per se, but i lift at a crossfit box. All i can say is that there are a number of very fit people there, from all ages, sexes, body shapes, etc. And there is always a palpable sense of community and comraderie. Its quite inspiring even for me, off in the corner doing my own thing. Give it a shot, worst can happen is you don't end up liking it and quite. You'll love it though, it usually brings in friendly people.
on April 15, 2014
at 12:44 PM
Cross fits is actually really good for the starters. You will learn how to lift in super supportive and non-judgmental environment. Cross fits helps in working out in structured manner and at a consistent rate. Cross Fit rewards people for finishing workouts in the least amount of time possible.
Crossfits are really hard working that means requires 100% efforts to be used and forcing your delf into 100% pain.
on April 12, 2014
at 04:52 PM
When I started Crossfit 2 years ago I wasn't totally out of shape, I had been running a bit and had started playing around with kettlebells. I never liked gyms much and found them boring, and the culture at them a total turn-off.
I did Crossfit once and I was hooked, the movements were much more "real", not just exercising one muscle repetitively but stuff that was varied and fun, though really challenging. Even more, the other people there made it fun, there were people of all levels, from tough-looking muscular guys who looked military doing muscle-ups, to stay-at-home moms and desk workers trying to get into shape who were not working with any weight (empty bar or just PVC pipes or broomsticks). Everyone pushes each other but also jokes and laughs and it makes it really enjoyable, even if you aren't first in the class.
When I started I could not do a pull-up, could barely do a sit-up, and had never picked up a barbell. I thought doing 50 kettlebell swings was an accomplishment. I totally got my ass kicked the first few workouts, they were harder than anything I had even considered attempting, and a few times I thought I was in over my head.
'The first few weeks were tough and I was constantly sore, but the changes in my body were quick and astonishing. I lost about 28 pounds fairly quickly, and over 6 inches off of my waist -- I had to cut a new hole in the belt about once a week the last few weeks. I gained noticeable muscle all over my body, and eventually gained some of the weight back but I think it is all muscle. To say that I got a totally new body is not an exaggeration.
I think it is definitely do-able even for someone starting from out of shape as long as you acknowledge that you need to take it easy and it might be months before you get up to the "Rx" prescribed workouts, but you'll transform your fitness.
on April 12, 2014
at 01:52 AM
I am not athletic nor am I in great shape but am on my way to it. I just started crossfit last week and am addicted! It keeps me engaged physically and mentally. It also does NOT get boring like the regular gym or machines, (at least for me). Its been a little over a week and I am already seeing improvement. Give it a try, it can't hurt and you may like it!
on April 12, 2014
at 01:47 AM
I am not super athletic or really in shape and just started crossfit last week. I'm already addicted! I was never one to take classes or workout in gyms but crossfit did it for me and I have already seen improvement in one week! Give it a try you may like it.
on March 12, 2011
at 09:17 AM
I would definitely recommend that you try it, even though you may be out of shape. If the trainer is decent then he should be able to scale the exercises down for you as required.
If it is an option, I would go to a beginners seminar if they offer one. That's what I did, it was four weeks of teaching and workouts progressively increasing in intensity, in the last week doing the same workout of the day as anyone else.
This really is the best form of exercise that I've tried in my life, so far.
I've written about my experience as a beginner in crossfit here:
on March 09, 2011
at 05:21 PM
CrossFit is universeably scaleable programme which is why it is the best thing you could ever do! This means that it is accesable to anyone whether you are an Olympic ahlete or an 80 year old gran. The programme is scaled to YOUR needs to help you improve, scaling is a form of programming so don't be discouraged if you see people doing heavier weights more pull-ups than you because everyone has been in that position of programming and as the community is so supportive you wont be challenging anyone else only yourself because the trainers and members encourage you every step of the way! Good Luck and Join the community! It will be the bes thing you ever do trust me!
on March 09, 2011
at 11:23 AM
On another post about a similar topic, gillibean asked me to "post pictures". Here is a link to a testimonial I wrote for my CrossFit program website complete with before and in progress pictures. http://www.qfitindy.com/r_shipley.html