I’m the kind of person who loves trying new things—from restaurants to music to art techniques—variety is my passion! And that’s exactly what got me hooked on CrossFit: there’s always something new to learn, always something to improve upon—which is a long way of saying, it’s NEVER BORING!
I started CrossFit in mid-June of 2012 when I found myself in a rut with my fitness routine. I remember pulling my summer clothes out of my closet and sighing in desperation as not one pair of shorts would button. Too stubborn to invest in a new wardrobe, I made up my mind to combat my muffin top head on. Knowing nothing about CrossFit other than that it was supposed to be “wicked hard”, I got on Google, found Crossfit Prowess, and emailed my future coach, Jason, with a ton of questions. I was a huge skeptic and very fearful that I’d hurt myself, and rightfully so. I got a quick and lengthy reply from him, assuring me that everything would be scaled to my ability, and with that, I hesitantly decided to give it a try. Pushing my fear aside and walking through the door for the first time was hands down, the BEST thing I did for myself that year.
What exactly is CrossFit?
CrossFit is broadly defined as “constantly varied, functional movement, performed at high intensity”. Workouts are referred to as “WODS” (Workout Of the Day) and CrossFit gyms are referred to as “Boxes”. Classes consist of a warm-up, a strength/skill activity, the WOD, and a cool-down, all packaged into about an hour’s time. WODs are designed to offer modifications for all levels and abilities, so don’t think you have to be “in shape” to be able to get through your first CrossFit workout. But, you WILL work harder than you probably ever have before, and that’s what’s going to get you in shape before you know it.
What makes CrossFit so awesome?
1. You’re in and out in about an hour.
Prowess has a 5:30 AM class that I’ve been known to frequent from time to time. Even if you don’t consider yourself a morning person, give it a try, because there is no better feeling than rolling out of that parking lot at 6:30 a.m. to a beautiful sunrise with a ton of happy brain chemicals and hormones pulsing through your body. You’ll be so pumped that your workout is behind you for the day, and you’ll have more energy than you even know what to do with. Maybe you’ll even quit your morning coffee routine like I did (!!) #MoneyInTheBank
2. Every class is different.
On any given day you might find yourself blowing off steam with sledgehammer swings and good ol’ fashioned tractor tire flips, and then maybe working on your Olympic lifts. Another day you might find yourself doing pushups and air squats, climbing ropes, and working on your handstand walks. Another day you might run a 5k with your teammates or do a partner row and learn some new mobility techniques. No two days are ever the same, and that’s a huge part of what keeps me coming back.
3. You’ll see the results fast—and you’ll feel them immediately.
Very shortly after I started CrossFit, I committed to making some changes in my diet. After my very first class, I remember feeling astonished at how sore my muscles were—much more so than I’d ever felt after taking the elliptical for a whirl or floundering my way through the gym circuit. I was working harder at Prowess than I ever had before, so I figured the cleaner I ate, the better my body would feel, and the quicker my muscles would recover. Sure, I was still thinking about losing inches at this point, but my focus shifted from dress size to wanting my body and mind to feel and perform their best. Over the next month I incrementally weaned myself off of processed foods, cut way back on sugar and booze, and started incorporating a lot more organic leafy greens into my diet. The combination of cleaner eating and incorporating healthy doses of high intensity, varied exercise was my secret sauce. My unwanted inches melted off by August, and people actually started complimenting me on my muscle tone for the first time in my life. I could hardly believe it!
4. The mental results are even more AWESOME.
CrossFit helped me finally conquer my obsession with weighing myself! This was the best I’d EVER felt in my body, and I was starting to do things I never dreamt I’d be able to do—like unassisted pullups and rope climbs!
I no longer needed a number on a scale to validate my health or happiness.
And what an amazingly liberating feeling that was—giving myself permission to finally let go of a burden I’d really, really wrestled with since I was a tween! Sure, I still have “fat days” every now and then. But you know what? That’s part of being a human being. And I’m no longer attached to a number on that damn scale. You can’t put a price on that kind of freedom.
My CrossFit journey has been just as much of a mental awakening as it’s been physically transformative. It’s helped open my eyes to incredible, mind-blowing strength that I never imagined I was capable of. It’s the best money I’ve ever invested in myself, yielding astounding physical and mental returns.
5. The community is supportive and FUN!
There is ZERO shame or embarrassment here if you’re slow or can’t do a certain movement. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. You’ll likely find that you have a team full of cheerleaders pushing you to get your chin over the bar one last time in the WOD as you finish your banded pull-ups. Fist bumps and high fives run rampant at Prowess. And there is nothing like celebrating people’s firsts. First pull-up, first rope climb, first box jump…the list goes on. The combination of surprise and excitement that I see in so many people’s faces with a first gives me goose bumps and a huge lump in my throat every single time. There is truly nothing like witnessing someone’s self-confidence increase right before your eyes in that manner.
Oh, and did I mention that we do like, a bazillion fun activities together? Obstacle races, ski trips, skydiving, whitewater rafting, golfing, hiking, bike path pub crawls, beach WODS, karaoke, team scavenger hunts through Providence, 2-day 200 mile relay races and endless Paleo grill ‘n chill sessions, just to name a few! It’s really, really hard NOT to have fun with us!
Do your research
Before you go running to shell out the dough for a membership, don’t be afraid to try out a few different boxes and find the right fit. Don’t be shy. Ask about your coach’s accreditations. Ask if you can observe a class—are the newbies being attended to? It’s your right to find a place where you feel safe and supported—your well-being should always be the number one priority. CrossFit is an infinite cycle of setting goals and then CRUSHING them. It’s about conquering fears. It’s about realizing and celebrating strength you may never have known you had in you. It’s about building community. It’s about having FUN!
And as our saying goes at Prowess, it’s about being “better than yesterday”.
BY JOANNA READ