Put off by CrossFit’s intensity rep?

2013July08_Crossfit_BAsk most people for their impressions of CrossFit and they’ll use terms like ‘high-intensity’ or ‘macho workouts’. We’ve all heard the stories about CrossFit being so intense that people really feel the burn and some hardcore physical pummelling. However, this is not an entirely accurate picture so don’t be put off before you even start CrossFit or consider it. If it was a workout only suited to the very masculine then there wouldn’t be so many women involved either. You can ease yourself into CrossFit and enjoy its benefits at your own workout level and pace, even if you’re a couch potato. All you need to do is to go about it in the right way and follow some sensible advice, rather than throwing yourself into it with all your might and weight.

Anyone who enjoys sports will know that recent weeks have seen the finals of the annual CrossFit Games. It can be compulsive viewing and if you check it out from the comfort of your sofa, while enjoying a snack, caught the highlights on the internet at work you might have found yourself thinking, “that seems like a ridiculously intense way to get a workout! It’s not for me!” You might have watched slack-jawed as the sleek and muscled finalists seemed to have carried impossible burdens, ran incredible distances, as well as lifted weights and endured physical tasks mere mortals must surely struggle with?

So, even if you consider yourself relatively fit, you could be forgiven for imagining, “CrossFit isn’t for me…not quite yet! It seems a little extreme.” Well this doesn’t have to be the case. The men and women competing in the CrossFit finals are really at their peak and the crème de la crème of the CrossFit world. If you are just starting out, you will not be competing at their pace; well not for a while anyway.

As CrossFit has become more mainstream, it’s become more accessible and certified trainers know it’s not in anyone’s best interests to work you till you drop, and drop out. The official CrossFit line is that the program, “is designed for universal scalability making it the perfect application for any committed individual regardless of experience.” So let’s look at ways you can ease yourself into CrossFit.

Pick the right Box for you

CrossFit gyms are referred to as Boxes and finding the right one for you is essential if you are to enjoy CrossFit from the get go! This is because different Boxes tend to concentrate on different types of fitness: some build endurance, others might put more emphasis on weight training or others focus around the Workout of the Day (WOD).

Don’t feel you have to be in shape first

Despite the reputation CrossFit has for being a workout for the super healthy, many trainers prefer to take on new students with low fitness levels. This is because these beginners have not had time to get into bad habits and so can be taught the correct techniques more easily. Trainers can give you an evaluation and teach you how to squat, lift, run and move without risking injuries.

Remember it’s scalable

As you’ll know, CrossFit does not change its exercises dependent on your ability. There is no separate workout for older people, nor are there different classes for women or athletes. Everyone is doing the same exercise, but it is scalable. If the WOD calls for squats with 120 pound weights and this is beyond your capability, then you might be advised to start with 40 pounds and work up over the weeks and months. If you can’t cope with the number of reps, then simply reduce the number. You can build up over time to the prescribed workouts as you get stronger and fitter.

It’s highly sociable.

For many people, one of the best aspects of CrossFit is the fact there is such a community spirit and Box mates will offer you massive amounts of support whatever your fitness levels. You’ll find that veterans of the group will want you come as far as they have. When you’re sweating together you are bonding, so most people find it is a great way to meet friends.

Healthy competition

The CrossFit community will offer you support, but as with many sports, there is always someone who comes across as stronger and more able than you. Draw inspiration not intimidation and push your limits but don’t go into a danger zone simply to try and keep up. You don’t have to be the fastest or the strongest. You’re aiming to be your fastest and strongest. CrossFit incorporates a competitive edge but this should always be healthy.

Measured success keeps you going

Yes, CrossFit is challenging but it is also incredibly moreish. As you are constantly monitoring your performance and measuring time, weight and rounds, as well as distance or repetitions, you see your progress and want to keep going to reach and surpass the next milestone. What you might have found to be intense a couple of months ago, is now something you do with ease. This makes it easier to keep going.

Don’t be a quitter!

Here is a fact that won’t surprise you. CrossFit is intense! But it works. So stick with it if you want to see the results. All trainers say that you need to give it at least 90 days and not expect to see instant results. Nearly everyone who manages to get through those first three months becomes a devotee.

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