Park Your Misconceptions: Try CrossFit

So, you’re thinking of trying CrossFit. Let’s delve into it and walk you through the door of your local box.

Something’s got to give. You aren’t happy with your body, and you know you should do something about it. But what?

You are now at the second step of what sport psychologists call “The Stages of Behavior Change.” This stage, referred to as the Contemplation stage, is where most people get stuck. It is filled with uncertainty and doubt, and taking the leap to commitment often overwhelms the budding acknowledgement of potential benefits. You’re thinking about trying CrossFit, but a combination of intimidation and misconceptions keep you from walking through the door.

Park Your CrossFit Misconceptions

It is time to clear the air and delve into these trepidations. Below is a detailed outline of what to expect when you commit to CrossFit training.

I’m Not in Good Enough Shape

Yes, you are in shape enough to start. One of the biggest misconceptions about CrossFit is that it requires a certain level of base fitness to even begin. On the contrary, trainers spend countless hours educating themselves on how to scale appropriately for every athlete that enters the gym.

The foundation of the training methodology is built around functional movements that are designed to translate into everyday life. A deadlift might look intimidating with 3-inch thick rubber plates on each side of a barbell, but it really isn’t all that different from picking your groceries up off of the porch.

As trainers, we encourage those that deem themselves unfit to just start training, so that we can give them back the ability to function well in real life. A trainer will do their best to tailor the exercises appropriately to each individual new member, so that they can benefit from the workout without becoming overwhelmed.

I’m Going to Get Hurt

You will be sore, but injury is rare. There might be times when the soreness is so great that walking up the stairs backwards sounds like a good idea, but rest assured your body will recover. Your body can handle being sore. Without going into in-depth physiology, the body only adapts when put through extreme stress. In the first few weeks especially, the soreness will be frequent and somewhat intense. The greater deviation from the normal patterns of your current life routine, the greater the soreness will feel and last. But after consistent training, it will be less extreme.

Any type of exercise carries with it a risk for injury, but it is way less common in CrossFit than most people believe. There are differences in how each gym runs their programming, but they all believe in safe practices. A proper warm up, appropriate scaling, and a fitting cool down all play a big role in injury prevention and are staples within the CrossFit community. Ego is a far more common culprit for causing injuries than the workouts themselves, so leave yours at the door. When the devil on your shoulder tells you to add more weight in a set when you know you shouldn’t, or to run further than your body can currently handle, it’s tempting you to flirt with disaster. Either way, the ego needs to go before starting CrossFit.

I’m Going to Lose So Much Weight!

Weight loss is possible, but so is weight gain. Losing excess fat in almost all cases is a good thing, but gaining muscle can be just as beneficial for many people. Muscle weighs more than fat, and therefore adding a small quantity of muscle and losing a larger quantity of fat might actually end up neutral on the scale.

After weeks of CrossFit training, it is very common to be pleased with the mirror but hate the scale. If you are gaining strength, are passing the eye test, and yet are gaining weight, there is a good chance you have lost fat but added significant muscle. Building skeletal muscle is often overshadowed by the emphasis on losing fat, but they are both important and beneficial.

It’s All So Random

The programming may seem sporadic and random, but it is all by design. Without going into too much detail, the body is very complex. You have three different energy systems that utilize three different energy sources to conduct movement from three different muscle fiber types. Your body consists of approximately 640 different skeletal muscles, with roughly 4,000 tendons, each controlling and contributing to an infinite combination of different motor patterns and responses. You would think it would be a no-brainer that training needs to match this level of complexity.

CrossFit responds to the diversity of the human organism by covering as much of this complexity as possible through constantly varied programming. The workouts will cover broad time domains and a large assorted amalgamation of movements, but all within a system that progresses the human body toward greater health. Trainers will design strength cycles and cardiorespiratory phase training, all beautifully wrapped up in complimentary movements that have real-life application. CrossFit is not random for the sake of being random or to go against mainstream thinking. There is a method to the madness.

The Goal is a Better Life

The goal of CrossFit, as with any proper training program, is to allow the athlete to live their life with higher quality outside of the gym. Whether it be through building up muscular capacity and function, or simply acting as a stress reliever, it is intended for everyone. Get past the stage of contemplation and reap the many benefits CrossFit has to offer. Leave your ego at the door, and let the process begin to work for you.