When I asked my friends and acquaintances on Facebook why they had never done CrossFit before, I was shocked by the deeply emotional answers I received. People were pretty polarizing about CrossFit to the point I started having reservations about it myself! After spending some time reflecting on the answers, I realized that these people had the same feelings about CrossFit that I had been feeling for years leading up to my decision to start. I can’t blame them for the way that they feel, especially since some of them had experiences with CrossFitters that were less than stellar. One was a former LMT who claimed that CrossFitters could keep her in business. Some people had no experience with CrossFit but they all somehow knew that CrossFit produces more injury than any other sport. Someone even claimed that CrossFit doesn’t help you get fit to do anything other than CrossFit.
As I reflected on their answers, their concerns, and their harsh criticism of CrossFit, I became acutely aware of how much I’ve let people dictate how I feel about nearly every facet of my life, for as long as I can remember. I let the thin, reedy women who said they have never seen a CrossFitting woman they’d like to look like make me feel badly about myself, judged by the size of my thighs, and looked down upon for my natural shape. I allowed these people the space to make me feel like maybe I wasn’t making the right decision for my overall health. I let these people make me think for half a second that I was entering this elitist sport of meatheads and extreme competitors. I gave people space in my head that said “this won’t help you become more fit”.
This is a theme in my life. I’ve let the negative words people spoke mean more to me than my own talent, my own desperate dreams, and my own future plans. I had even given people the power to make me feel as though the size of my thighs dictated my worth, for my entire life, even when I was a fit competitive dancer.
As part of the first week of Precision Nutrition, I got some feedback from Coach Karen about letting go of things I cannot control (these people and their thoughts on CrossFit) and focusing on things I can control (my own feelings about CrossFit and my Whys for doing CrossFit). In keeping with that lesson, I had to let go of the things I had read.
The initial reason I even asked the question, “Why have you never tried CrossFit?” was because I wanted to take the list of reasons and form an article around debunking fears or misconceptions about CrossFit. Once the emotionally-charged answers started pouring in, I realized that I can’t control what these people think about CrossFit. What I can control is my own journey with CrossFit and I can explain to you why I chose CrossFit to help me get fit, why I chose Momentum Fitness as my home gym, and allow you to follow my journey to see what CrossFit can do for this under-fit, work from home mom of three in her mid-thirties.
First of all, CrossFit is not only for the already-fit or for professional athletes or for the über competitive. CrossFit is for anyone looking to get healthier, build muscle, and become stronger physically and mentally. If CrossFit were only for fit people, I wouldn’t be able to do CrossFit. Like at all.
I have spent the last few years literally on my butt giving my fingers and this keyboard the only workout I participated in. The last 9 months I was most often found in my recliner working or hanging out with the kids. When I started tracking macros on January 1, I realized that the app was also tracking my steps, and I wasn’t getting very many in. By “wasn’t getting very many in” I mean under 500 steps per day. I knew this likely meant that my muscles were seriously weakened, as though the burning when I went up the stairs wasn’t enough to prove that point. When we went to Disney for four days and I experienced the same muscle soreness I used to experience after a particularly grueling day of dance practice, I realized it was time to do something about my weakened state.
I was specifically looking for something that would help me build muscle and become stronger so that I can do everyday activities without feeling like I am about to keel over. I want to ski down a mountain without my thighs giving out after the second run. I want to be able to walk up hills without having to stop. I want to climb the Statue of Liberty without clogging the stairway. I want to have the energy and motivation to get up and get out of the house to make memories with my family, and in my current state I don’t have the ability to do any of that.
I was also looking for something that came with community. I wanted a village of people who eat the same way I do. I wanted to have a village that cheered me on and were all on a quest to better themselves both physically and mentally that didn’t consist of chronic cardio. I wanted to stop working out before I even started. I wanted something different.
CrossFit was the natural fit for all of those things. CrossFit is known for making people stronger physically and mentally, and is very well known for its athletes to follow a primal or paleo diet similar to the one I’m supposed to follow due to my metabolic disorder.
I chose Momentum Fitness for a number of reasons. I was introduced to the gym by a friend whose journey I have followed; a friend who is peaceful and loving and kind and whose opinions I respect a great deal. I knew that if she said that Coaches Karen and Tony worked with each individual person on their individual needs, that Coaches Karen and Tony definitely did work with each individual person on their individual needs. I heard from her that they were supportive and knowledgeable and that their #1 was making sure you were doing things that would help you reach your goals in the safest way possible.
I’m not concerned with being injured while doing CrossFit. I have a torn meniscus from dance, I suffered from tendonitis in my Achilles tendon from dance, I tore my quad during track in high school, and I broke my tailbone once while rollerblading and again while snowboarding. Every sport comes with risks of some sort, so while someone is telling me how dangerous CrossFit can be, I am going to find strength and confidence in the fact that my coaches have asked me how I’m feeling every time I go into the gym, and have made changes to my workout to account for any issues I was having that day. It is my responsibility to tell my coaches where I’m hurting or struggling so that they can ensure I do not injure myself. It is my job not to push myself too hard and to listen to them when they try to reign me in, which they’ve already had to do. Athletes in all sports can oftentimes be their own worst enemies. Finding coaches that know both the athlete’s strengths and weaknesses along with their endgame is key. I have more faith in the fact that Karen and Tony have my best interests and endgame in mind than I do in the fact that I’ll wake up in the morning.
I chose CrossFit to build muscle. I’m not here to look like any other woman. I want to look like me. At the many points in my life where I was active, I had very defined, bulky muscles. I have short appendages and I know I will never be long and lean, I’m just not built that way. I think strong women are sexy, and my goal in doing CrossFit is to become strong with obvious muscle definition again. I’m not at CrossFit to compete in the Olympics or become the best CrossFitting woman out there. I’m at CrossFit to become the best version of myself, the version of myself that makes me happy, that helps me live a healthier life, and that inspires confidence in all facets of my life. I also want to take back the years in high school where I was solid and thought I was fat. I want the 20-25% body fat curvy woman with muscle body that I took for granted for so long. I want that for me, not for some other woman’s ideal or for the media’s ideal of what I should look like. I want that because *I* think it is beautiful. Women of all body shapes and sizes can do CrossFit and not get bulky. Your goal never has to be an unattainable one.
CrossFit can be expensive, yes, and so can being unhealthy. I personally spent over $3k on my healthcare last year. From doctor’s offices to prescription drugs and inhalers and emergency room visits, I was sick. I spent three months suffering from pneumonia that caused lost wages and significant weight gain due to three months on steroids. I suffered from allergies that continued to turn into bronchitis, and I wilted under the weight of fatigue and anxiety from what felt like an inability to get control of my health. It is widely believed that being physically active creates a more positive environment in your body. Your immune system boosts, your mental health improves, and you can live a longer, healthier life. If spending money on a monthly gym membership where you have access to qualified personal trainers is available to you, do it. Check with your HSA or FSA to see if you can pay for your membership with pre-tax money. Pull the money from somewhere else. As soon as Kyle is done with his 12 week chiropractic treatments, we will be diverting those funds for him to begin CrossFit. Why? Because having a personal trainer, the group and family mentality, and all-around health that CrossFit at Momentum Fitness promotes is worth it.
CrossFit only prepares you to be good at CrossFit. Well, yeah. I don’t expect to suddenly be able to balance on my paddleboard or play Ultimate Frisbee like a pro. I do expect CrossFit to help me build the stamina needed to do those things. Of COURSE I realize that if I’d like to become good at either of those things I would need to practice those things. CrossFit will help me build strength, mobility, and endurance – all things you need to participate in any physical activity.
I had the opportunity to talk to Coach Karen after the heated conversations happened on Facebook, and she said some of what was said isn’t wrong. CrossFit did market themselves as the ELITE workout, the workout for PRIMO athletes when it first started marketing itself. Some gyms, (or boxes as they are frequently called in the CrossFit community) do focus on making their athletes CrossFit Open Games ready. Some coaches encourage their athletes to work fast and yes, there are injuries. Not all gyms are like that. Momentum Fitness isn’t like that. Coaches Karen and Tony really, genuinely want you to do the movements safely. There hasn’t been a day yet where Coach Tony hasn’t walked over to me and had me correct something. Their goal is to teach you to safely do the movements so you don’t injure yourself and so that you are performing the movement to get the most out of it. CrossFit as a whole is changing for the better. It is possible to find a gym that suits your needs, they aren’t all full of elitist meatheads who expect you to work yourself into the ground.
If you’re afraid to try CrossFit, I get it. I was too. I’m fortunate that I got it right the first try, but I highly recommend going to a local gym in your street clothes to check out a workout or two. Get a feel for the coaches and the athletes. The first or second gym might not be for you, but there is likely a good fit for you in your area, you might just have to look around a bit to find it.
It doesn’t matter how far you are, though. If you just want help trying to figure out why you gain and lose weight like you’re riding a roller coaster, check out their Online Nutrition and Lifestyle Coaching. It’s not nutrition, it’s therapy.