You guys know I’m an advocate of moving for better health. Call in fitness, call it exercise, call it whatever you like. The point is to get your body moving because that’s what it was designed to do!
Sadly, in our sedentary world, far too many people don’t even know where to begin. They think exercise is a chore… or that they need to be in shape to workout (actually, you work out to get in shape!). My hope is to motivate you guys to move more, try new things, and realize that there are MANY ways to get your daily “fitnessing” in.
So today we are starting a new weekly series called “Fitness Friday.” Each week I will be interviewing a new person about a new form of exercise. I’m talking to runners, bikers, yogis, zumba trainers, and more. Don’t think of this as a comprehensive guide to any one thing. Rather, this is an overview to get your excited about the possibilities and some information to get started.
Note: Please remember that fitness is personal. You should always check with your healthcare professional before starting a new exercise program, especially if you’ve been pretty sedentary before. The opinions expressed here are those of the people I interview… and they are just that: Opinions. Be smart with your health.
An Overview of Crossfit
Today I’m happy to welcome Katie Goudie to talk about Crossfit. Katie isn’t a Crossfit trainer, just a passionate Crossfitter with a story to share. She also happens to be my (very fit) sister. As someone who went from complete beginner to competitor in a year’s time, she has some great advice for those of you who have wondered what the deal is with Crossfit.
Tell us a little about yourself:
My name is Katie Goudie. I have an amazing loving husband and beautiful daughter who just turned one this past August. It was 6 weeks after her birth that my journey with Crossfit began.
My husband, Braedon, had started Crossfit at the beginning of my pregnancy. I had made the decision to wait on this new workout until the pregnancy was over. During that 9 months it was amazing to see the transformation that came over my husband. He was losing weight, he was getting stronger, and (most importantly) he was becoming happier. For someone that had struggled with minor depression all his life it was amazing to see it disappear.
I was antsy to try this stuff out for myself. When I finally got the approval from the doctor to start exercising again I finally started my journey with Crossfit – and haven’t looked back since!
What is Crossfit?
Crossfit at its core is a basic belief in fitness. In reality Crossfit is not just one thing – it’s many things. Crossfit started out and was developed by Coach Greg Glassman. It took him several decades to develop but Coach Glassman was the first person to define fitness in a meaningful, measurable way: “Increased work capacity across broad time and modal domains.”
Most people will define Crossfit as “Constantly varied functional movements performed at relatively high intensity.” In essence you are working out with fellow athletes competing against each other as well as supporting and cheering each other on. It is high intensity that focuses on all muscle groups (big and small) of the body with body movements and free weights.
But Crossfit is more then just a workout. It’s a community, a hobby, a sport, and lifestyle. (If you want a more in-depth description you can read my feelings about Crossfit and what it really is to me here.)
What are the benefits of Crossfit?
Where do I even start? How about the quick answer:
- You can lose unhealthy weight
- You will gain strength in places you didn’t know you could be strong
- You will feel emotionally and mentally stronger
- Increased happiness
Let’s start with number one…
…as that tends to be the one most people focus on when picking their exercise routines.
Before I was pregnant I felt I was healthy enough. I wouldn’t say I was in great shape by any means, but I could run, hike, dance, play, etc. I never would have called myself overweight, but I was always a bit… soft. I would tell myself that I just didn’t have the body type to be toned. I’d always have a bit of baby fat and my arms would never have definition. I had been telling myself this for years and would have told anyone that I was completely fine with those so called “facts”.
Enter Crossfit. Six weeks after my beautiful daughter I had the post-baby belly and everywhere else just seemed… thicker. Unfortunately I couldn’t tell you what I weighed after I had the baby because I refused to get on the scale. That being said, six months after I started Crossfit I was already 6 pounds under PRE-pregnancy weight.
Now having hit my one year anniversary with Crossfit I am 14 pounds under that pre-pregnancy weight. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t think my body was even capable of being under that number I had been at most of my life. It was so gratifying to see all that extra poundage I had collected with pregnancy just melt away – and then some.
Let’s move on to number 2: Gaining strength
While I feel that losing unhealthy weight is awesome and a great goal, I don’t feel that it should be the only focus when you start an exercise routine. Number 2 is probably one of my favorite benefits of doing Crossfit. I’m strong. And not just in a “I could beat a 15 year old at arm wrestling” strong but in a “I can lift 150 pounds over my head and do over 100 pull-up’s” strong.
Those arms I didn’t think could ever be toned are nice and defined now. That baby fat that I figured would be there the rest of my life – who knew that there were abs under there! I love lifting weights, I love seeing that tangible evidence of improvement! My body feels so healthy and fit. I can say with perfect confidence that I am in shape. That’s a great feeling.
Which moves perfectly into both 3 and 4: Emotional/Mental Strength & Happiness
That feeling of accomplishment just can’t be beat. Even if you have to scale a work out, or you don’t finish as quickly as others, the fact that you finished is always a great feeling. I now have a drive in me that I never had before. Where before I’d quit because I felt that the work I put in was “good enough,” I now push even harder until I know it is better.
I feel more positive and more active mentally then I have in years. It’s one thing to be able to say you are strong physically, but quite another to be able to say you are strong mentally. All of this then leads to that last point – happiness. I am so happy – with my life, my progress, my accomplishments, etc. I got to bed tired and feeling good. Over all it’s a win/win situation.
What would you caution anyone about Crossfit before starting it for the first time?
My biggest caution would be: Don’t let pride get in the way. It’s easy to watch others who are at different fitness levels or who have been Crossfitting for years and to be frustrated that they are so far ahead of where you feel you are. This can cause that ego to get in the way of doing what is right for your body.
Make sure to keep that line of pushing yourself but not hurting yourself in check. All it takes is one time of “I can lift more than him” to injure yourself. It’s okay to be at a different level then the next person. We all excel and struggle with different things. So leave that pride at the door, listen to your trainers, and even more importantly listen to your body.
Is there any reason someone should NOT begin this type of exercise program?
Absolutely not. One of the best things about Crossfit is how easily it is adjusted to each individual person. There are trainers there every workout. They want you to do your best without hurting yourself. They have been around for some time and know their stuff. If you don’t feel comfortable with a certain movement or weight, pick something else. Not sure what to pick or scale back to? Ask the trainer. I’ve seen men over the age of 60 do Crossfit, women who were 8 months pregnant do Crossfit, and even someone with a cast on their broken wrist do Crossfit – all because of the simple fact that you can scale everything.
(Note from Robin: It’s always wise to talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise program. I probably wouldn’t recommend starting Crossfit at 8 months pregnant… #youknowwhatimean. Also, trust your instincts. If your trainer is not giving you feedback and attention or his/her advice doesn’t feel right, run away fast!)
What tips would you give beginners?
1. Listen to the trainers and be vocal on what your body is telling you.
The trainers don’t know every ache/pain/past injury/fear you have. If you don’t talk to them they can’t help you. If you are afraid to do a box jump, tell them and they will have you do step-up’s instead. Have a bum shoulder or knee? Tell them. They know what you should and shouldn’t be doing so as not to injure yourself further.
2. Expect to be sore.
A lot. And for at least 3 weeks. You are using muscle groups that you likely haven’t used before! So when it’s hard to walk the next day, don’t worry!
3. Don’t give up.
Crossfit can be a bit daunting to start out. Just know that everyone started at the exact same place you started. We all had to scale. We were super sore. We felt unsure about certain movements. We all struggled (and still do at times). It’s okay! Just keep going and give it your all! We will all be cheering you on because we know how you feel as we’ve all been there before!
What sort of gear or products does someone need to start?
You just need some clothes, shoes, and your lovely self. No fancy gear is needed – it will all be provided at the Box that you go to.
What is your cost per month to keep at it?
A warning: This is where most people loose interest. Crossfit is not the cheap quick fix. It’s not something that takes 30 minutes and costs 25 dollars and you are done. It is a commitment, but one that is 100% worth it.
When you first start Crossfit you have to take three fundamental courses. These are usually a one on one with a trainer who will teach the basic movements so that you don’t hurt yourself as you begin. You must take these three courses before being allowed a monthly membership.
Each gym’s prices are a bit varied so make sure to check out the website of the gym you have selected. For my gym the fundamentals are 100 dollars total for the three classes. Then after that for an unlimited monthly membership it is $125 a month. Again each box is a bit different and some also offer discounts for couple or family memberships as you can see at my local box’s pricing here.
When people gasp at the cost of Crossfit I always like to lay it out this way:
If I go at least three times a week (when in reality I go around 4 or 5) then each class is basically 10 dollars a class. You can’t go to Golds Gym and sign up for a personal trainer for only 10 dollars a class. So while Crossfit may not be the cheapest exercise program, for what you get it’s extremely cost effective and worth every penny.
Don’t believe it’s worth it? Take a look at the difference in my performance and appearance in the one year I have been Crossfitting:
Are there any resources that you would recommend to help those who are interested in starting?
I would check out the official Crossfit website as well as the Crossfit Locator so that you can find a box near you. You can also check out this book to get even more details about whether or not Crossfit is a good match for you.
Any final remarks on why you love Crossfit?
I honestly could go on and on about Crossfit (and have already probably gone on too much). It’s been a life changer for me and I would recommend it to anyone.
Thanks for sharing your experience, Katie! Do we have any more Crossfitters here? What would you add?