The joys of technology. I recently stumbled upon some old posts from my early days in CrossFit. Way back in September of 2009, I reached supreme levels of CrossFit "bro" status. Don't believe me? Check it out:
See what I mean? "WOD'n it up?" Who was I?! And ZERO likes says a lot about the state of my social life.
I'll tell you who I was: A CrossFit beginner. Just starting out, I was enthralled and totally enamored with all things CrossFit related. In 8 years of doing this stuff, its easy to take those first months for granted. It seems that with CrossFit and training, we can all be in a rush to be better, moving through one progression to the next. It's important to remember where you started and try to recreate that early excitement.
With summer coming to a close and school resuming for families in the area, I'm sure you're starting to notice new faces in the gym. I want to do two things with this post. The first, hopefully help some of you remember or think back to when you first started to appreciate how far you've come. The second, try to let the newcomers to CrossFit have a little more awareness about some of the things they may experience as they start their journey here at CrossFit PR Star.
1. You'll be served a fat slice of humble pie.
I was in the military at the time and had mastered the requirements for my PT test. Run a mile and a half, knock out some push-ups and sit-ups, no big deal. I was also young and inherently a dummy. I felt like I was invincible. That was until a female Marine Captain put me through the ringer. The workout was Cindy, 20 minute AMRAP of 5 pull ups, 10 push-ups and 15 squats. In my mind, I was easily going to get 25-30 rounds, no problem. I came out way too aggressive and did everything strict. Fast forward 20 minutes and I'm struggling to finish my 11th round. While the Marine captain is standing up drinking water and talking to others, I'm flopping around on the floor not sure if I peed myself or its just sweat.
It happens. It's also why we tell people in our On-Ramp to leave the ego at the door. If a coach offers to help, don't scoff. Chances are, you'll probably need it. Trust us.
2. You'll need a translator.
"WOD'n it up" Is a great example of this. Our pre-workout brief is full of terms like "AMRAP", "TTB", "UB", and "4x8@60%". It can be daunting. If there is any confusion early on, please don't feel foolish for asking because chance are, we've been asked that exact question before. More than once. Hell, even if you're experienced, you may sometimes find yourself in a gym that uses a totally different vocabulary.
3. You'll have haters.
Hate and disdain for something stems from a lack of knowledge. A fear of the unknown. If you post on instagram or facebook "Hey, just started CrossFit! Cant wait to lift heavy", prepare for people to chime in. It'll be like the world became fitness experts overnight! "Oh, you'll hurt your back!" or "CrossFit is dangerous, please be careful!" will become common, trust me. And 99% of the time it's one of three things; One, the person went to a lousy gym with poor coaching and low standards. Two, the person tried to lift or perform movements outside of their capability or finally, third, they have no knowledge whatsoever decided to get their information from the murky waters of the internet. It's always important to do your research when selecting a new gym or your first gym and that may be a post for a different day but use common sense. If it doesnt feel right, it probably isn't.
4. You will become an expert counter.
Outside of the gym, I use a calculator for everything from tipping my waitress to figuring out how I am going to afford my insane Starbucks addiction. But inside the gym? That's where I shine. Looking at a bar, or a whiteboard, I feel like Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting. You'll realize the same over time. 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 reps equals 55 total, 21-15-9 is 45 total, et cetera. It will become easy in no time.
5. You'll gain weight at first.
This is more directed at the girls, as I feel most men come to the gym looking to pack on a little muscle. Weight gain for the fellas is an often desirable outcome. For ladies, however, seeing the number on a scale go up is the antithesis of what we would consider "common thought". I've seen countless women start CrossFit, only to become discouraged a few weeks or months in because they aren't losing weight. It's sad because they neglect to see how far they've come in other areas of fitness. If this sounds like you, I would advise hiding the scale, don't look at it. Don't let a number define you, let how you FEEL be the gauge you use. Do you have more energy? Are clothes fitting better? People commenting how great you look? That all sounds pretty awesome to me!
6. You'll learn about your mental weakness.
No one comes into the gym already performing at their genetic potential. It takes training. Usually they are weak, unsure and unstable. Same goes for the mind. No one can walk right off the street into the military ranks of a SEAL team. It takes time to build up that mental fortitude. You may find very early on that you don't have the will or the want to push towards 100 burpees. You might find yourself quitting the workout 5-10 seconds before the call of "time!" Worse yet, you may skip the gym because a workout looks "too hard." Fighting cancer is hard, putting food on the table is hard for people. We are privileged to have the opportunity to show up, do what we are capable of and walk out feeling better about ourselves and our day. We aren't asking you be the best, fittest or strongest in the gym, we just want you to be the best YOU can be on that given day.
7. You'll find out that you never stop learning.
It's a continuous journey. Once you've mastered something, you'll find another movement that excites you. Even common movements we do everyday could use a tweak every now and then. With so much knowledge and information out there, it becomes important for each athlete to take a proactive stance and try to learn a lot for themselves. We only have you all about 5 hours a week. There's a lot of time outside of that to increase your awareness in the sport of fitness.
The first 3-6 months of my CrossFit experience were amazing. I met wonderful people, learned loads of valuable information that I sometimes still teach to this day. Part of the experience is the journey and I sometimes wish I would have slowed down a bit to enjoy it. Hindsight being 20/20, it's easy to say that now. I know now that my mission as a coach is not only to lead classes, thats easy. The hard part and a secondary job of a coach is to make sure that members, new and experienced, take the time to enjoy the process.