A few years ago while I was visiting family in Los Angeles, a friend introduced me to Crossfit
He took me to Crossfit LA to observe a workout session. My first impression was that of a muscle gym – I figured anyone who did Crossfit must be dudes who wanted to get as big and strong as possible. The gym was “no frills’ – a rubber floor, a few gymnastics rings, pull up bars, jump boxes, benches for lifting, jump ropes, resistance bands, kettle bells….no machines, just fitness toys. On the wall was a large white board with people’s names listed according to time. Turns out those times revealed how long it took for each person to complete their workout. I was pleasantly surprised to see all kinds of people filter in for the session – men and women, younger and older, some in fantastic shape and others trying to get into shape.

Story short, Crossfit is a combination of P.E. class and boot camp. Crossfit instructors take time to teach each exercise in detail, then outline the workout for the day. An example workout is 400 meter warm up run followed by 15 sit-ups/15 pull-ups/15 squats/15 box jumps three times in a row. Everyone in the workout session must complete the workout as fast as they possibly can. The instructor starts the group off at the same time, and a large clock on the wall serves as the stopwatch. Motivational music blares through speakers, and while there is some competition, the spirit is collective support.

Even though I thought that workout in L.A. looked fun, I avoided Crossfit because of my injuries. After three hip surgeries, I worried that the intensity of Crossfit would harm me. Not to mention, I can’t do a pull-up! The last time I did a pull-up, I was six years old playing on a jungle gym.

I recently changed my mind, though, and started doing Crossfit two weeks ago at Crossfit Hoboken. Here’s why:

I need help with strength training.
As an endurance athlete, I have no troubles logging time cycling, hiking, swimming….but strength training is so boring. I just can’t seem to do it on my own. Crossfit instructors teach the ins-and-outs of functional strength training, and the group atmosphere makes it fun.

I want to workout with a team.
Since I’m no longer competing in my sport, I don’t have much chance to train with a team. I’ve been exercising alone these past few years and while I’m motivated enough to do it, it’s lonely. Crossfit provides a community of people to hang out with – workout with, learn from, socialize with – and it’s fun.

I can’t seem to find that intensity elsewhere.
Intensity is so important to for fitness and overall health. I can’t run anymore. I haven’t run in over five years. Running is how I used to build intensity into my fitness routine. The Crossfit workout is intense! Everything about Crossfit  (the instructors, my fellow workout buddies, the energy at the gym) promotes positive intensity, and it’s fun.

I have special needs related to my previous injuries.
My exercise routine must cater to the physical limitations of my body. Crossfit instructors provide expertise that allows me to modify my workout so I don’t get hurt. I’m back in L.A. this week, and yesterday I had the most fantastic experience with Zeb, an instructor at Paradiso Crossfit. Zeb (pictured below) taught me thrusters, front squats, wall ball, and kipping pull-ups. Again, it doesn’t matter that I can’t do a pull-up – because Zeb taught me how to incorporate the assistance I need using resistance bands…and it was FUN!

Crossfit provides not only a great workout, but ongoing education on fitness, nutrition, and overall lifestyle management for optimal health: see What is Fitness?

Crossfit isn’t for everyone. I invited my friend, Kristen, to join me for this Crossfit adventure, and so far, we are having tons of fun! I’m still learning, so how long I continue to do Crossfit is yet to be seen. For now, though, I have wonderful, renewed energy for my fitness.

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