Four new people joined Crossfit yesterday. They came to class in the morning as newbies, and were back today as onrampers. It was pretty cool to see, the community at our box is really exceptional and as part of it, I get excited when I see our little 6 a.m. family growing.
Since this is the first week back for me after several off I’ve been thinking a lot about my first few weeks of Crossfit. I think it’s because at the moment my body hurts so bad I’m considering removing a limb or two to be rid of the pain, and it reminds me of how I felt when I was just starting out.
I got a lot of advice back then, between amazing coaches and all my friends and family that thought I had suddenly gone stark raving mad, and in hindsight some of it was really really good.
In an effort to pay it forward, and to maybe help someone new to Crossfit or considering trying it out, here I will share my favorite pieces of advice, many of which I still use today.
- You won’t die, you will pass out first.
Yeah, this is probably the hardest thing you’ve ever done. Even if it isn’t, there’s going to be a moment where you wonder if your body is physically able to do any more. Chances are, if you can have and recognize that thought coherently, you can keep going. In fact, chances are, it’s your mind holding you back and not your body. Keep going. If your body really just can’t do anymore you’ll know because you will come to flat on your back with a sweaty herd of people huddled around you wanting to know if you’re ok. If you’re REALLY lucky you might come to with one of those sweaty Crossfit studs giving you mouth to mouth.
- When in doubt, “mobilitize”.
I remember when I first started Crossfit I got irritated during classes where we would do a lot of mobility work. I felt like I wasn’t getting a good workout if I wasn’t panting and sweating the entire time. After just a few short weeks however, I realized that my mobility was really limiting some of my movements. It wasn’t just about stretching, it was about helping my body to align the way it needed to in order to be efficient and effective. Granted, I still believe the lacrosse ball to be some sort of twisted S&M device, but now I use it daily and am better for it.
- Listen to your coaches. No really, even about that.
So I may or may not have been one of those new Crossfitters that thought I knew way more than I really did, especially about nutrition. I also may or may not have resisted the Paleo approach for months and argued tooth and nail that whole wheat, black beans, cheese and ice cream were just fine for me to eat in moderation. Then came a point where I had a heart to heart with myself. I realized that I was listening to my coaches every single word of advice to the letter when it came to my training, why on earth wasn’t I capitalizing on their knowledge with nutrition and doing what they said? When I did, the results finally started coming in a way I couldn’t have imagined. Yeah, a lot of times what they’re telling you to do might be hard, it might suck, and it might disrupt the things that you believe to be true. But chances are they are right. Bastards.
- Scale your workouts and be proud of your work.
There are probably people out there who were banging out handstand push ups your first week of Crossfit. For the record, I loathe you. Actually, that’s not entirely true. I envy you. For those of us who are mere mortals, it’s really likely you’re not going to be able to do every movement perfectly, Rx on day 1. Who cares? You showed up and you’re doing the work to the best of your ability right alongside the burpee muscle up guy that makes you sweaty to think about even when you’re not working out. Completing any Crossfit WOD, scaled or not, is still a victory. The only person who knows what you’re capable of is you, and as long as you are pushing yourself as hard as the workload expected, you’re doing it right.
- You won’t PR every day, but you still need to show up. You committed, now do the work.
I remember in my first week my coach quoting the somewhat overused phrase, “it doesn’t ever get easier, you just get better.” I knew it was true then, just as I know it’s true now. Something I struggle to remember even today though, is that it doesn’t mean you’ll get better every time. Maybe you PR your snatch last week but can’t get under the weight even once two weeks later. That doesn’t mean you’re not improving, so many factors play into our performance each day. They key to Crossfit, or to anything in which you want to improve really, is consistency. Motivate yourself however you have to, but show up, do the work, and the results will come.
So now it’s your turn! I would love to know if you ever got some great advice, or something that you learned along the way in your fitness or health journey that surprised you.
And if it includes hot sweaty man mouth to mouth all the better.