Exercise is a critical component to getting healthy and staying healthy. Everyone knows this. Moving your body gets all your juices flowing. Mostly importantly it increases blood and lymphatic circulation, both of which speed up the detoxification and healing process.
Exercise was an important component of my hardcore all natural anti-cancer regimen. Especially short runs and rebounding. But I didn’t do much weight training…
And I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I had a local gym membership at
French Rivera Spa (not nearly as fancy as it sounds) that I’ve barely used in the last 10 years.
The only reason I kept renewing is because it was super cheap.
I had a “VIP” membership for $120 per year. That’s $10 bucks a month!
It was an amazing deal but I never went because :
1) It wasn’t motivated
2) I didn’t have a work out plan
3) Working out alone is the pits
CrossFit got me excited about working out again.
So what exactly is Crossfit?
“CrossFit is the principal strength and conditioning program for many police academies, military special operations units, champion martial artists, and hundreds of other elite and professional athletes worldwide.
CrossFit training delivers a fitness that is by design, broad and inclusive. The specialty is not specializing. Combat, survival, sports, and life reward this kind of fitness and on average, punish the specialist.
The CrossFit program is designed for universal scalability making it the perfect application for any committed individual regardless of experience. The same routines for are used for elderly individuals with heart disease and top athletes. We scale load and intensity; we don’t change programs.”
Ok that’s how crossfit.com explains it, here’s how I describe it:
CrossFit is like a cross between all forms of fitness training:
Military style training, weight lifting, power lifting, running, rowing, gymnastics, and everything else.
Remember Rocky IV when he’s training in siberia with an ox yoke and whatever else he can rig up in the barn?
Unlike most workout programs it’s not just about getting bigger muscles or losing weight.
CrossFit is about comprehensive fitness: increasing your strength, endurance, flexibility, power, speed, balance, and coordination.
If you want to get stronger you will. If you want to lose weight you will.
I personally gained 13 lbs of muscle in the first three months, training 2-3 days per week.
Don’t worry ladies, you’re not going to bulk up, unless you want to.
CrossFit workouts focus on functional movements using multiple muscle groups
and they employ nearly every compound exercise on the planet:
Pushups, pull-ups, dips, sit-ups, sprints, hurdles, box jumps, bench press, squat, snatch, power cleans, dead lift, kettle bells, and a bunch of other ones with names you may not recognize like: Turkish get-ups, burpees, pistols, and deadbugs.
And yes they will teach you how to do them all correctly.
And it’s competitive.
The classes have competitive timed workout at the end, and if you really get into it, there are local, regional, and national CrossFit events like the Faction Games and CrossFit Games.
In order to continue to progress in fitness training you have to keep changing it up.
Do the same three workouts three days a week for a few months and you’re going to plateau.
At CrossFit every workout is different, which is especially great for those of us with ADD.
Come to think of it, I’m not sure if I’ve ever done the same workout twice…
If I have, it was so long ago I don’t remember.
I love it because I don’t have to think about what workout to do when I get to the gym.
I just show up and do the workout of the day (WOD) that’s already planned out for me.
The CrossFit Class
Another thing I like a lot is that you aren’t working out by yourself.
You are in a personal training class with 2-20 other people, depending on who shows up.
And you’re all doing the same workout together.
It’s a competitive yet encouraging atmosphere and camaraderie abounds.
A typical 1 hour class is divided into three sections:
Warm Up, Strength Training, and Metabolic Conditioning (Met Con).
The first two sections are self explanatory.
The Met Con is a timed workout with several exercises, kind of like circuit training.
You’re typically doing a lot of reps or multiple sets with relatively heavy weights
and little to no rest between sets. It’s always super tough.
Some days you may leave with a few scrapes, blisters, and bruises, but no pain no gain right!
If you like to compete you can put your finish time on the board
and see how you stacked up against everyone else that day.
Here’s an example of a class I did last week:
(There are tons of CrossFit videos online, just Google the exercise if my explanations don’t make sense.)
WARM UP (3 Rounds)
10 Overhead Squats (body weight, holding a pvc pipe overhead)
5 Box Jumps (I was jumping onto a 3 ft box stack, yes there are shorter ones)
5 Deck Squats (like going from a sit-up to standing up in one fast fluid motion)
STRENGTH TRAINING (3-5 sets of heavy weight)
Power Snatch (5 reps)
Handstand pushups (5 reps)
Side Bridge (lay on your side and hold yourself up on one elbow for 30 seconds per side)
This particular one was Tabata Intervals.
We did eight 20 second rounds of each exercise with 10 seconds of rest between each round. So basically you do as many reps as you can (at 100% effort) in 20 seconds. Eight times. Per exercise.
Here are the four exercises we did:
Burpees (drop to the ground, push up to a squat, jump up and clap your hands overhead. Just google it)
Double Unders (that’s a double jump on a jump rope, Rocky style)
Kettle Bell Swings (I was swinging a 53 pounder)
It actually sounds pretty easy as I’m writing this. It wasn’t.
Don’t be intimidated.
Even though it’s hardcore training, it isn’t a bunch of freaky looking bodybuilder dudes with veins popping out everywhere. In fact I haven’t seen any of those guys.
And it’s not a brodeo either.
There are a lot of women who train there, and some of the classes even have more women than men.
And some of these women make me look bad on a regular basis.
If you feel like the weakest person in the gym when you start, don’t worry,
in a few weeks time someone else will come along that makes you look good.
For me it was a super old guy.
Another awesome thing is the CrossFit recommended diet is basically Paleo,
(organic fruits and vegetables, clean meats, little to no grains) you can imagine how thrilled I was when I found that out.
Like I said before, CrossFit got me excited about working out again.
I love the variation. I love learning new things. I love to get my blood and sweat pumping. And I love a challenge.
I never imagined I would ever be able to do a one-handed handstand, but there I am!
If you google CrossFit and your city (like “Crossfit Atlanta”). Chances are there might be a CrossFit gym nearby. They’re popping up all over the place.
I train at Faction Strength & Conditioning (Home of Crossfit Memphis)
They have 5-6 classes per day Monday-Friday and 2 on Saturday.
I go 3-4 days per week, depending on my schedule.
So if you’re in Memphis and you’re interested in CrossFit you should definitely come check it out. It’s an awesome place with some amazing people running the show.
Also consider signing up for Faction Fundamentals, that’s their 12 class introduction to CrossFit training.
It’s only $120 and they teach you a lot of the exercises, train you, and track your progress.
By the last session you will see a noticeable improvement in your performance.
Plus they give you two free weeks at the gym after the class is finished.
You’ll learn a lot and it’s a great way to see if CrossFit is right for you before committing to a membership.
Warning: I did it and I was hooked.
And truth be told I want to see more of my Memphis friends up there with me.
So come on already!
Check it: Doug from CrossFit Memphis also posts instructional videos at techniquewod.com
And there’s tons more info at crossfit.com
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then this video is worth a thousand pictures.
Here’s an awesome time-lapse video of my gym Faction Strength and Conditioning.
And there’s no way I could end this post without including this bad boy