CrossFit has been on my periphery since the beginning of the year when a Groupon came out. A close friend and coworker has been at it for a couple of months and my boyfriend has been a devotee for about a year. Both have suggested that I would love it due to its team-like atmosphere and its focus on functional training. I have been wary to try it for two reasons: a) it is EXPENSIVE and b) it comes with a devotion to the paleo diet, which bars some of the best things in life, including cheese.
Why I bit the bullet
I am a fit person. I work out daily, including running a couple of miles and plenty of resistance training. I consider myself to be in better shape than most. Flash back to last month when I took my boyfriend on his first backpacking trip. The morning after our longest, most challenging hike, I gleefully asked how he felt, expecting him to moan about all the pain he was in. But no, he was pain-free, while I could feel the 10 miles over rocky terrain in my hamstrings and ass.
As we hiked the second day, I decided that I was going to try CrossFit because it seemed perfect for keeping me in shape for my favorite hobby.
CrossFit is almost prohibitively expensive. Scratch that, it is prohibitively expensive. While you can join a gym for as little as $19/month, CrossFit costs at least $100/month. My gym is $150/month. Yeah. I know. For someone as frugal as me, making the decision to fork over that much was painful. But I said I’d commit to three months and negotiated a cheaper rate if I would pay all three months up-front.
Although the cost is high, a know a few friends who like that it is that expensive since they are more likely to stick with it. When a gym is cheap, it’s easy to make an excuse not to go, but if you feel like you’re throwing money away by not going, then getting into an exercise routine gets easier.
CrossFit focuses on functional training and lots of weight lifting. Because of this, you have to take a few fundamentals classes where you go over each move over and over again so you can lift all of that weight without injury. As someone who has never done more than a few bicep curls, learning to lift more weight than I could ever imagine makes me feel like a bad-ass.
Each workout starts with a warm-up, which is not a warm-up at all. It’s like a work-out. Seriously. A warm-up for me is gently jogging for a half a mile. A CrossFit warmup is doing lunges forever, tons of sit-ups and a few push-ups.
The work-outs are right up my alley. I hate running on treadmills or spinning. I also really hate yoga. I like that there are so many different workouts so that everyday is different. I also enjoy that they are done in a really friendly group setting. One of my major concerns in going was that the clases would be filled with the type of dudebros who like to gather around the weight-lifting corner at the gym (you know the guys), but CrossFit devotees are really, really nice. Sure, there are a few meatheads in the mix, but for the most part, everyone is super cool, laid back, and really happy to help you out and cheer you on when you succeed. The classes have also been a good mix of men, women, and all sorts of body types. I like that the focus is not on skinny, but on strength and general bad-assery.
Okay, I have to stop and talk about the food thing. I would give CrossFit an A+ stamp of approval if it didn’t come with a diet. It’s called paleo, and is all about eating what a caveman would eat, which is basically meat and vegetables. Paleo devotees avoid grains, legumes, dairy, salt and sugar. The justification for this diet is that humans haven’t evolved much since our caveman days and we’d be much healthier if we ate like them. Sigh.
My main issues are that: a) It’s got a faddish name attached to it, which makes me suspect it eschews sensible eating in general for devotion to the latest and greatest. b) It doesn’t account for change in lifestyle. Of course our ancestors were leaner and meaner – the weren’t sitting at desks for 8 hours. Correlation does not equal causation. c) I also think the whole thing is anthropologically suspect. Basically, evidence of people eating animals sticks around better than evidence for people eating grains and plants. Stone tools for hewing meat off bone last longer as do the animal bones left from meals. Plants and grains tend to disintegrate. What’s more, the archeological record is pretty vocal on the fact that populations increased and stabilized once people figured out how to cultivate grains, which means they can’t be all that bad for us. If we were still hunting and gathering meat and vegetables, I doubt we’d be so successful as a species. So the conclusion that ancient humans ate more meat and that we’d be healthier if we ate more of it is scientifically suspect. (My apologies to friend and boyfriend, who I know both believe the paleo diet is a great way to eat. I have opinions!) Also, they’ll pull my cheese and bread out of my cold, dead hands.
I love how much stronger CrossFit is making me and I’m looking foroward to my next backpacking trip, when I will wake up after miles of hiking with serious poundage on my back with hardly a twinge in any muscle.
Will I continue after the three months I committed to? I don’t know, mostly due to the cost. $150/month is tough for any budget but Mitt Romney’s.
Have any of you tried CrossFit?