CrossFit gets a bad rap for being the intimidating kid on the block. Starting a new fitness program can already be intimidating. The stereotypes that it is only for really fit, or really strong, gym goers, or that there is a high likelihood of getting injured doing CrossFit don’t help the common anxieties that come with doing hard things, or trying something new.
So, if you’ve just started CrossFit and you’re already finding yourself thinking “what did I get myself into,” or if you are still on the fence about trying it out, here are a few things that you should know:
The time to start is NOW
It is easy to put a new fitness goal or program atop of the shelf of perfect timing –– to be at the perfect level of fitness, to be the perfect amount of “not busy”, or to begin at the optimal moment, whatever that looks like –– especially if that goal is an intimidating one! The truth is, the perfect time doesn’t exist. Or, it does: the perfect time is now. In an INSIDER interview with Nicole Carroll, CrossFit Director of Training and Certification, about six things you should know before starting CrossFit, Carroll suggests, “To get started, focus on healthy habits, consistency with basic exercises, and patience with achieving results.” Simply put, the key factor to starting CrossFit is the willingness to start and the patience that you will inevitably reach whatever goals you have set for yourself.
CrossFit Is For Everybody. Yes, even YOU!
Carroll goes on to say that when starting CrossFit, you should know that the movements are scalable to every body, welcoming athletes of all ages and levels of experience. There is a popular misconception that CrossFit is only for people of a certain age, or who have already achieved a level of fitness, but in reality “CrossFit was designed to improve fitness for all comers in the most safe, efficient, and effective ways possible,” Carroll says.
You Will Not Be The Only One Scaling
You may read this and wonder, “but what if I am the only one scaling?” One thing when starting a new fitness program that you should know is that you will not be the only one modifying the movements to suit your current level of fitness. If you’re new to the gym, or if you are still thinking about starting a CrossFit program, take a look around during the next class. You will see people tackling the same workout but with slight differences across individuals in the room to make sure that everyone receives the same challenging stimulus and that everyone gets to safely complete the workout in a way that is challenging yet effective to their personal level of fitness. We all have to start somewhere!
Failure Happens & There Are No Shortcuts
CrossFit can certainly teach you how to fail better. That probably sounds pretty bleak, but a big part of growing your strength and skills is failing and continuing to work toward a successful outcome. One of the best (and most humbling!) aspects of beginning a functional fitness program is seeing exactly where your strengths are, and exactly where your areas of weakness are. As Izzy Levy, the owner of a box called ICE NYC, explains to Well + Good, that due to the varied functional movements in CrossFit “… you never have to worry about getting bored of CrossFit. But it also means that there’s a learning curve.” And, the learning curve is steep, but it is worth the climb! As Nicole Carroll reiterates, “CrossFit doesn’t advertise itself as a quick fix but a long term path to success,” and she advises athletes to “enjoy the learning process and the skill development will happen.”
Consistency, Healthy Habits, and Patience are Key
It seems contrived to say, but the key to being successful at CrossFit is consistency and patience. The saying “practice makes perfect” applies here, and that is easier said than done! It is easy to walk away from activities that we feel like we just aren’t good at. Imagine a time when you’ve felt like you weren’t strong enough, fast enough, or agile enough. It can be challenging at first to keep showing up when you’re still learning and when you are just starting to build new strengths and skills. However, every big win –– whether it is a heavy lifting PR, that elusive muscle up, stringing together some double-unders, or even a faster WOD time –– often comes only after many failed attempts. Consistency and patience are the payoff here and they are the key variables to getting better at CrossFit over time.
Community is Part of The Package
Once you’ve been to a few CrossFit classes it is easy to get the fanfare, but perhaps not for all of the reasons one might think. It can become a favorite part of your day because the workouts are challenging and push you to get faster, or stronger, or to grow in new ways. But, CrossFit can also be the place that you can’t wait to go back to because of the community that is fostered in each gym. There is something to be said for suffering together! Over time, the people that you see every day in class become the very people who cheer you on when you are struggling to get in one more rep. They are the people pushing and working hard right beside you. They are the people who you partner with during random workouts. And over time, these are the people that become your friends. This has been the experience for Lifestyle & Fitness writer Sara Shulman who talks openly to INSIDER about the family dynamic CrossFit has brought into her life. She writes, “Yes, CrossFit is like a cult. But if someone said to you, “Hey, want to join my cult of friends who cheer each other on, support each other’s hard work, and all get super fit in the process?” Would you say no?”
Popular stereotypes may make it seem like CrossFit is inaccessible to the novice athlete or newbie gym goer. However, it is a place for all bodies, all ages, and all levels of fitness. Through consistent willingness to show up and work hard, and a patience to learn and grow your skills and technique, you will reap the benefits, and you will certainly find a new community of friends in the process!