Five Things to Know When Starting CrossFit
“I’m going to start CrossFit, but I’m going to get in shape first.” These words have been spoken by friends and loved ones of virtually every member at Crossfit Bangor. The comment is usually followed by an internal (or completely obvious) eye roll from the recipient. To CrossFitters this concept seems as ridiculous as someone saying they are going to start a book by reading the last page first. There is no magical moment where fitness lives. It’s not as clear cut as changing your relationship status from “single” to “In a relationship.” Fitness, or being in shape, lives very much in the “its complicated” area. The best thing you can do when starting CrossFit is START! After that, the rest will fall into place but if you’re like most people and need a little more then, “Just start!” then keep reading.
Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable
You did it and signed up for a Free Class. You even mustered up the confidence to walk into the building. You can hear DMX blaring in the background. Barbells are being dropped. A coach at the front of the room yells out, “1 minute left!” and you start to question your decision and not to mention, the sanity of the people around you. Class starts and it’s full of confusion, moments of panic, and ends with you in a sweaty mess on the floor. As you lay there, 10 strangers with calloused hands come over to high five you and say, “Nice job!”.
Your first CrossFit class and the four beginner classes (a process called On Ramp) are very uncomfortable. Both mentally and physically, you will be push harder than you have ever allowed yourself to go. This discomfort, this pushing of your personal limits, is where results live. The grind is where members find camaraderie. You share in the struggle and bond in the battle of each workout. Soon the discomfort goes from a stimulus you have avoided at all cost to a badge of honor you wear proudly in CrossFit Bangor Black and Red.
Your success in the very beginning stages of your CrossFit experience is learning to love discomfort. If you can get through the first few weeks of awkward moments of confusion and introductions, you will be home free to the results you are looking for.
So you finished On Ramp, your first couple CrossFit workouts, and experienced what it’s like to work so hard that you “tasted colors”. The first three months is easily the most important moment of time in your CrossFit life. Do the best you can to pick a class that you can come to consistently, make it a habit that you are not allowed to skip, and start building relationships with the members along side you in your class. The members that top the Committed Club (a list of members that come 12 times a month or more) every single month usually reside in a specific class and have made bonds with those amongst that class. Not to say that there aren't members that float from class to class that are very consistent, but the habit of attending the same class every day breeds a lot of benefits.
Whether or not you pick a specific class or float around the schedule, continuing to come consistently every week will be one of the greatest factors of success in your fitness. You have already committed the time to finish the beginners course. Give yourself the opportunity to get comfortable in the uncomfortable and continue to grow your skills in all the aspects that CrossFit includes.
Food Above All Else
The founder of CrossFit, Greg Glassman, has a great analogy for the relationship of nutrition and physical activity that sums up this tip perfectly. He states, “A fitness program is worthless unless it has a diet and nutrition end.” He goes on to say that the separation of nutrition and exercise is like trying to be right or left handed swimmer. He says, “Can I be a left handed or right handed swimmer? No you must use both arms.” Fitness is the combination of diet AND exercise together.
What I see a lot in the CrossFit community is the idea that if you work hard in the gym you can “reward” yourself with bad food at home. “What are you going to eat after this workout?” has been spoken many times in the walls of CrossFit gyms. That being said I will admit that I do enjoy not so optimal food on a weekly basis but the idea of working out to “deserve” enjoyable food is a very poor mindset. The misconception of many is that you must be miserable in order to be healthy or to have the elusive six-pack. This is simply not true. The path to a healthy diet is simple. Eat REAL food and know how much of that food you are eating. I will go into detail in future posts on how to track your food but a great place to start is with a $10 food scale from Amazon and the app myfitnesspal on your phone. With those two tools in your bag, you are well on your way to your physique and fitness goals.
If tracking your food seems a bit too far for you at the moment, that is ok too! You can still get amazing results by sticking to real food. Life is so much more than your body fat percentage. However, that is not an excuse to be unhealthy. Try meats and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, and no sugar as best you can and enjoy yourself.
No matter how serious you get with your food it’s best to remember to not take things too seriously, both in and outside the gym. One slice of cake on your birthday or a couple red hot dogs on the fourth of July will not ruin everything you have worked hard for. You may find that doing this every once in a while might be what you need to feel fulfilled and ready to train the next day.
My last tip for the new and veteran CrossFitters out there, is to be patient. Results don't happen overnight and you wouldn't want them to. Learn to love the day-to-day grind of hard workouts and healthy eating. Share the journey with others. There is no finish line, so love running the race. There are a couple hundred people waiting to run right next to you…
If you are interested in starting CrossFit head to the link below to schedule your first class, it’s free!
- Zachary Hamilton