I’m a runner. And now, I’m also a CrossFitter. Yes, they can co-exist.
Are you ready to hear about my thoughts on CrossFit? I have a lot of them so this is gonna be long – get ready. 🙂 The first section is about the CrossFit gym (“box”) in Winston-Salem I’ve gone to vs. others, so if you’re local be sure to check that out. But the majority of the post is my thoughts on CrossFit in general, particularly as it relates to running and overall fitness.
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that I’ve tried CrossFit in Winston-Salem a few times over the past few years and never really enjoyed it. I never got a great workout, I didn’t feel welcome, and left feeling like I could have worked out so much harder and much more efficiently only my own. So, when a friend asked me to go to CrossFit, I took a bit of convincing because I had such bad experiences previously. (2018 Update: I was all cryptic at the time when I wrote this post…that “friend” who invited me is now my husband. 😉 ) It also required some convincing because, well, I was nervous and a bit intimidated. More on that below.
I had heard about a new CrossFit gym in Winston-Salem, Top Tier CrossFit, that was supposedly a super nice facility and very welcoming. I went for the first time a couple weeks ago with a friend and really enjoyed the workout. And the rumors were true – Top Tier is really nice. I’ve heard that CrossFit is supposed to be grungy and minimalist, but the boxes I’d tried previously were…too grungy; I felt like I needed a tetanus shot afterwards. And the people at Top Tier are equally as nice as the gym itself, which was a big change from the other box I’d tried. So I’d absolutely recommend Top Tier to locals if you’re new to CrossFit and a bit nervous like I was.
I was intimidated by CrossFit because even though I’m in very good shape, my body is very used to the workouts I do. I get solid workouts from running, and I lift somewhat regularly, but I’ve been doing the same fitness routine for years now. (I’ve been running regularly for 16 years! Crazy!) Trying anything new can be intimidating so I think the whole getting-out-of-my-comfort zone was part of what kept me away from Crossfit (and all the terrible experiences I had previously!).
Unfamiliar workout moves can be scary too. My thought process looking at the WODs (workout of the day): “WTF are wall balls? Snatches? Oh, I knooooow what burpees are and I hate them.” (Now it’s more like, “Oh wall balls? Damn…those are hard. But I’m in. I’ll get better eventually.”)
Plus, trying new-to-me moves is so good for my body. After two CrossFit workouts last week that left me so sore I could barely stand up/sit down or walk, let alone run, I realized that my body is very fit in a pretty singular way and could definitely stand for some variety. I don’t believe “pain is gain” (and there is a difference between pain and discomfort), but I do believe muscle confusion leads to gains. And I know I neglect my glutes and hamstrings and regular Crossfitting would help strengthen those…and therefore make me a better runner.
Another reason I’ve loved Crossfit, aside from the sure-to-come fitness gains: it’s fun, plain and simple. I love the variety, I like how quickly the workouts go by, I like the camaraderie, and I love the challenge. Plus, I really, really push myself in the workouts and that’s just a good feeling.
I think I’ve been anti-Crossfit in the past because…well, I’m a Runner, capital R. Surely I couldn’t be a runner and a CrossFitter. But labels really, really don’t matter.
I’ve heard from friends (granted, these are non-CrossFit friends) how cultish/obsessive CrossFitters can be. But I don’t really think this is a bad thing; I think it’s great when people can build a community with their workouts, for motivation, accountability and for friendships. I’ve blogged multiple times about how much I love the running community, near and far, and I think Crossfitters feel an equal love to their sport.
When the communities become unfriendly or cliquish, that’s an issue, but I don’t think that’s a CrossFit problem so much as an individual’s problem. (Another plug for Top Tier – everyone is so welcoming and friendly. Granted, I’ve been taking classes with a friend so that certainly helps it feel friendlier, but it’s just a welcoming environment from the minute you walk in.)
It ripped me up pretty badly (and by badly, I mean, in the best way) last week. But after talking to my Crossfit junkie friends, they told me that my body will get used to it (or at least more used to it). And I believe that. When I go back to yoga after a hiatus, I get pretty sore since I’m using muscles that have been neglected (including all those small ones I forget exist). The body is pretty amazing at adapting when you push it.
I need to figure out how to fit it in my schedule because I will always be a Runner and like to run 4-6x a week. And if I’m running all the time, I have to fit in yoga so I don’t get injured. So…when do I fit in CrossFit? We’ll see.
Oh, one more thing: I went again tonight and LOVED the workout. Each time I go I think, “Ok, that was my favorite WOD so far.” I think that’s a good sign.