CrossFit – the holy grail of training! Say WOD?!

CrossFit ain't just weightlifting

CrossFit ain’t just weightlifting

It’s a trend and normally I hate trends. I don’t wear skinny jeans, I don’t carry those what-are-they-called backpacks and an undercut will never get on my head.

But let’s talk about CrossFit. One trend that I do care about, probably because I care about all sorts of sports and obviously not so much about fashion. And no need to worry, this post is no attempt to convert you from couchpotatoe to CrossFitter. It’s to clarify what CrossFit is about by looking at a few stereotypes and why I added it to my training routine of bootcamp, running and flying pilates.

Muscles, muscles, muscles
If I tell people that I started CrossFit the majority doesn’t know what it is. If they do they’ll look at me in disbelief and say something like: „Work out till you vomit, right?! How stupid!“ or „Isn’t that like where women have like these huuuuge like muscles?“ or „Just another place where guys battle it out on the weights“ and I have to say: „Yes you’re somehow right and no, nothing like that at all“.

First of all – I haven’t seen anyone vomit after a WOD (workout of the day) yet. People are of course exhausted after a 20 minute AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) of let’s say 5 Pull-Ups, 10 Push-Ups and 15 Squats – sounds easy peasy? Do it.

Have you heard of burpees? All CrossFitters looooove Burpees. It’s like a series of sprints you do when you’re a long distance runner. Training for a marathon and aiming for a new PB? You have to add some speedy runs to your training. And burpees – a full-body exercise – train your coordination, stamina and agility in a short time. In a month or two, your AMRAP score will be better and your burpees will look killer. So CrossFit aims higher than just at pumped muscles.

Women who do CrossFit
Now let’s talk about women who do CrossFit. They have or eventually will get muscles. And strong is the new skinny – haven’t you heard of that trend yet? In my opinion strong women are more attractive (and no, I’m not into women). As in everything it’s up to you how far you go and if you want to become a bulky hulk without boobs. Okay, I’m exaggerating here. But seriously, what’s wrong with a toned body? Do physically and mentally strong women scare you? Are you scared of muscles?

It’s scary!
Ahhhh….I see, you think people (men or women) who do CrossFit will smack your head once they hear your sport is just to watch people kick and chase after a ball?! Don’t worry all those tattooed and toned muscles are just the outer shell of some pretty awesome, motivating, great-spirited, mentally strong, determined and passionate people who love to challenge themselves while at the same time helping others become a better athlete. Here, no-one is growling at one another or tripping somebody up to score a better result.

My understanding of CrossFit as yet a rookie is that it’s not about competing against others but for a stronger you. You can of course enter competitions and championships to get there, but you don’t have to. Same with running. Same with any sport.

CrossFit in Hamburg
Like many trends Hamburg is up to date in terms of CrossFit as well and by now you’ll find a handful of decent boxes around town. Note: CrossFit is done in boxes, not gyms. A test-training definitely helps to find out if CrossFit and which box works for you. That way I found my box.

The second I stepped into it I was welcomed as if I was already part of their community. And even though I know I’ll struggle with work-outs that include pull-ups and handstands (definitely my weak points) these people (coaches and members) will help me to not give up and to keep on moving and to try and to face these weaknesses (you will, right?!). Just as they will find a way to push the already well-trained guys and girls to their respective next level who will lift even more unbelievable weights and do even more unbelievable kipping pull-ups I’m not even dreaming of doing, they will find a way to get people of other levels to their respective next stage of training. Not to forget the smiles we share whenever the coaches put on this song for warm-up. No WOD without music, smiles, sweat and high-fives!

Trendy to whom?
And like trends in general CrossFit is compelling to a certain type of people but not necessarily to the vast majority, the mainstream. It may not be a megatrend that changes society but in the world of sports and fitness CrossFit has had an impact over the last few years. Is it just coincidence that training methods of HIT (high intensity training) and HIIT (high intensity interval training) are discussed again, studies analyzed – all in the context of CrossFit and especially the WOD?

As part of my research on this training method I came across this video in which CrossFit founder Greg Glassmann, a former US gymnast, describes it as the holy grail of training. It combines all sorts of training for fitness but also social values and mental strength. A trend worth giving a try, I think.

Okay, so far so good. But why is it so expensive?
Good you ask! You probably prefer going to the gym where everything is included and you pay a lot less. I have to say: been there done that. My gym-days are over, because squeezing into one of those gazillion whatsoever-step-pump-workout-classes with gazillion other sports-fanatics and following the routine of a minor motivated instructor just didn’t do it to me anymore. Also I don’t need all these extras the gyms offer like showers (that aren’t always as clean as expected and sharing them with people who give a crap about hygiene rules freaks me out – I shower at home), tanning beds (I prefer natural vitamin D) and proteine shake bar (tap water will do to quinch my thirst). Though…a sauna…well, I guess you can’t have everything everywhere…

And yes of course I could train all these CrossFitty things in a park. But let’s face it: I wouldn’t challenge myself enough if I trained by myself and I would definitely not enjoy sensing the looks of pitty from picknicking families for my pathetic attempts of a handstand which may even be a piece of cake for their little ones.

Let me just ask you: What are you willing to spend for your hobby? For the things you’re passionate about, whether it is shopping, knitting, fishing, crafting…?

What about the holy grail, why not dump all your other sports?
If CrossFit has it all, would I still need to go running etc.? Good point! To be honest, I haven’t tried to give up everything else yet. Especially since I’m in the middle of marathon training and really still enjoy push-ups, dips and all the other evil exercises under the open sky with my bootcamp-crew and not to forget the relaxation time after an hour of working my powerhouse I’m not willing to give up everything else for CrossFit. It complements my training routine. Note to myself: Find out how others think about CrossFit in addition to other training methods.

Trend vs. trend
So let’s conclude: It’s okay to think I’m crazy for trying so hard to nail a handstand (not quite yet…but this year folks, this year). But let’s do each other a favor when it comes to talking about our (new) passions: Listen and don’t judge too soon. I promise I will try to accept all those fashionistas in their trendy styles. And I start by admitting that sometimes I envy all the girls (and guys) who can work a skinny jeans!

Burpees aren’t so bad after all.

You know you love CrossFit, when you do burpees at home. And keep track.

You know you love CrossFit, when you do burpees at home. And keep track.


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