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Is CrossFit for Me?

By Katrina Chilton -

CrossFit can be both amazing and horrible. It really depends how you look at it. Allow me to explain.

CrossFit is training for all shapes and sizes of people to improve their physical well-being and cardiovascular fitness in a hardcore, yet encouraging environment. It’s a full-body workout, which includes gymnastics, strength training and cardio in every session. You need to ask yourself these questions: How do you like to be motivated. What are your goals? Do you actually like to exercise?

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not smiling when I do household chores like they do in commercials on television. So why would it be any different when I workout?

The typical gym scene wasn’t giving me what I wanted and I was losing interest. Fast. Normally, I would warm up by walking on the treadmill for a few minutes, then wonder around like a lost puppy. I would try out different machines and “act” like I knew what I was doing. Of course, I’d do a few reps and when I got bored, I’d find another one. I never even broke a sweat. I had no clue what I was doing. I had no sense of direction. And I certainly didn’t know if what I was doing would help me achieve my goals. I was never curious how strong I was and I didn’t have the motivation to challenge myself to find out. Why would I care about that? Nobody else at the gym did. But what else was out there?

I discovered CrossFit and wondered if I could participate at all. I definitely had some limitations stacked against me like turning fifty-years old and having asthma to boot. When I mentioned it to a few of my friends, they thought I had lost my mind. I was reminded about my age, that I was a grandmother and I certainly wasn’t in good enough shape to do what CrossFit people do. But I was curious. I wanted to better myself. What I had been doing wasn’t working and something needed to change. I was up for the challenge. And if I couldn’t do it, at least I tried.

My husband and I decided to sign up for the six-week CrossFit challenge. We planned to do it together and encourage each other along the way. It was a solid plan. Instead of talking about what happened at work that day, we could complain and laugh about our aches and pains. My husband’s overall goal was to build muscle, while mine was to lose weight. Any extra benefits would be perks in my opinion.

We arrived early on our first night and watched the previous class finish up their WOD (workout of the day). My first instinct was to turn around and leave because those people were beasts. No way could I ever do what they were doing! People were throwing weights, swinging their bodies to do pull-ups and jumping on boxes. They didn’t stop. They kept moving. They pushed their bodies to the limit. The entire scene was intimidating. It wasn’t the typical quiet gym that I was used to being in. The few people that were finished with their workout were sprawled out on the floor, gasping for breath and soaked in sweat. I leaned over to my husband and whispered, “What have we got ourselves into?”

As the weeks went on, we learned about proper form and technique to prevent injuries. Our workouts were scaled down to maybe half the weights and half the time. If we couldn’t lift the suggested weight, then we lifted lighter weights. We were coached to do what our bodies could do without injury, but we were also encouraged to push ourselves and find out what we could actually do. We actually wanted to know what we could do.

At that point I realized that at no time, when I visited a commercial gym, did I ever work up a sweat. Not once! After every CrossFit workout, I felt a sense of accomplishment. I did something that many people wouldn’t consider doing, let alone at my age. I pushed myself and I was proud of what I could do. To be honest, no matter how much I ached, I wanted more.

Yes, my body was sore from the hardcore workouts, but it was worth every drop of sweat and tears.

When I first started, I could only do ten sit-ups in one minute. At the end of the six-week challenge, I could do thirty during that same minute. I was stronger, faster and I had lost weight and inches. Overall, I felt better. I was more confident and I realized that I wasn’t competing against anyone but myself. I was well on my way to being a badass-granny and nobody was going to stop me.

The encouragement from other members was (and continues to be) outstanding. It wasn’t the typical “let’s hang out” friend scene. No, it was (and is) like family. No matter what our background or occupations were, we all had the same goal: to better ourselves, no matter our age or fitness level.

I look forward to working out now! I join in on the cheers when someone rings the bell because he/she did the RX workout or did toes-to-bar for the first time. And seeing my sweaty palm print on the mat is just more proof that I worked hard and gave it my all.

Does my age limit me? No, not at all. I’m actually proud that I can do the workouts, even if I have to scale back sometimes. I can’t wait to see what I can do when I turn sixty-years old! Does my asthma bother me? At times yes, but I have medication for that and I know my limitations even better now than before I started CrossFit. Learning more about my asthma was a blessing.

Age and limitations have no bearing in CrossFit. All workouts can be modified to accommodate each individual. Everyone is different. Just because one person can power clean 150 pounds, doesn’t mean another person using 55 pounds isn’t getting the same type of workout.

I push myself to do the workout because it’s good for my overall health, I’ll be stronger and my doctor won’t lecture me anymore about getting in shape. The side affects of CrossFit include losing weight, building muscle and/or an overall feeling of accomplishment. On top of all that, I’ve made more friends and have a great excuse to buy super-cute workout gear. It’s a win-win in my opinion.

Is CrossFit both amazing and horrible? Yes it is...and I love it.

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