10 Things I Wish I Knew Before CrossFit

It feels like everyone has a list of 10 things they wish someone had told them before joining CrossFit, or wish to share with people now that they started. Since every experience is unique, I figured why not. Here are the 10 things I didn’t expect about CrossFit:

  1. You will see immediate results because your body is so unfamiliar with this type of workout that all the things that get activated will result in some quick changes. For me it was stamina. I’m still never going to run a marathon but the dreaded metcons have become less and less… dreadful. Dare I say even enjoyable.
  2. But you will also hit some plateaus which are expected and completely fine. I had to learn to let my body rest so that it can rebuild and break through these plateaus. Taking a page from climbing, it was also important for me to remind myself that tendons and ligaments develop four times SLOWER than muscles. Your whole body has to function has one machine to do CrossFit, so be patient and all will come in time.
  3. Everything else in life will seem a little easier. The mental toughness that you build each time you push yourself through another grueling WOD permeates through every aspect of life. Perhaps it’s a form of resilience?  When you get used to repeating mantras to yourself like “3 more seconds,” “1 more rep,” and “just don’t stop! Don’t stop moving,” suddenly everything seems a little more doable.
  4. You will be calmer which I know sounds counter-intuitive. The stigma associated with CrossFit is that the athletes  are all super intense. This is not entirely wrong; CrossFit is an intense workout so  you have to bring your intensity in order to conquer it. But then a sort of zen sets it. I figured it may have something to do with the conditioning that slows our resting heart rate, but whatever it is, I can definitely feel the difference in my meditation. In general, things just don’t bother me as much.
  5. Humility is more important than the results because while there will always be someone better, faster, stronger than you, that’s not the point. Here’s where I find another intersection between Yoga and CrossFit: santosha. Santosha is the yogic philosophy of being content with one’s best effort. It requires us to try our best no matter the result, and definitely not the result as compared to others. In this way, I find CrossFit very humbling.
  6. You will amaze yourself. Sure you will like the physical results but that’s not even the best part. The more subtle things amazed me more; I never thought I’d come to love the barbell, become a stickler for technique, or take scraped shins as a point of pride. And like everyone else, I am also amazed with how much more my body is able to do than I previously thought possible.
  7. Others will be worried about your physical and mental wellbeing, and that’s ok.  You will be the worst sales pitch for CrossFit for at least a few months as you walk around sore, bruised, and maybe a little grumpy on days you didn’t feed your body right. Which leads me to my next point.
  8. Being sore and in pain actually feels good! In fact, you will miss it when you don’t feel it. I wear the pain like a badge of honor. The sore muscles serve as a reminder of what I conquered, and also keeps the rest of my life in line. Personally, I wouldn’t want to eat poorly or make bad decisions after working so hard!
  9. You will talk about it constantly, for a little while, but you will get over it. As with anything new and exciting, the novelty effect will keep CrossFit on your mind. I found myself talking/thinking about it pretty much whenever I had a moment free. It may get a little annoying to people who don’t care about CrossFit, but take a moment and relish in how good it feels to have that child-like enthusiasm again. It’s exciting.
  10. Not all gyms are created equal/Community is EVERYTHING. I’ve tried several CrossFit gyms and each has a different culture. While everyone will give you a great workout, I decided to stay with CrossFit Praxis for the community.  The coaches are nothing short of amazing. The athletes treat one another like family. The programming is intelligent. All egos are checked at the door. My gym also uses the Wodify platform where we log our performance so that nerds like me can run analytics on our past results. Other athletes can also “like” or comment on your posted results. The supportive environment and warm personalities is what keeps me going day after day. There are so many factors that go into your choice of a gym so figure out what’s important to you (e.g., big gym with huge membership base, location, Olympic lifting centric, etc).
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