Dear CrossFit, When Will I Know You?

November 20, 2012 · 25 comments

This month, I’ve been trying new classes with Tina from Carrots ‘n’ Cake as part of the Harvard Pilgrim Well Together challenge. In the final installment, I tried CrossFit with Tina down at her box in Weymouth.

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Box: Refers to a CrossFit gym and only a CrossFit gym. 

I’ve known Tina for a few years now and during Reach The Beach I noticed how strong she had gotten. From reading her blog, I knew it was the CrossFit. When we were paired up for the Well Together challenge, I knew I would in for at least one WOD.

WOD: Another CrossFit term that refers to the “Workout Of The Day.”

Apparently, unless you are a member of another box, you are not allowed to drop in to another CrossFit class. Beginners take time away from paying members to show proper form and what each move exactly is. I told Tina that I had taken 4 CrossFit intro classes (Fenway, Back Bay, Reebok HQ, Fitbloggin) but I still had no idea what an actual class was like. With memberships costing over $350 a month in Boston, am I really suppose to just plunk down that much cash without having an actual idea what a single hour is really like? BIG THANK YOU to CrossFit 718 for bending the rules for me :)

CrossFit Warm Up

We began class with 5 10-second Hollow Holds, 500m row, 3 10-second Hollow Hold Supermans (which I featured in my Jillian Michaels Crazy Ab Workout video), another 500m row and lastly 3 20-second Hollow Planks. I did 3 sets of 10 Hollow Hold Supermans because I didn’t pay attention to directions and proved the CrossFit policy about drop ins accurate. Whatever.

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Next, we moved on to some mobility work which basically was rolling out our triceps against the wall with a small tennis like ball. Regulars in class were sore from Monday’s WOD so this exercise probably felt great! We also did a few wall presses that I used to do with my clients when testing to see what their mobility was and if they had any muscle imbalances, tightness or previous injury.

I didn’t realize in my 4 CrossFit intro sessions that classes are broken up in 4 parts. The 3rd focuses on a skill and today was handstands. I used to drive my mother nuts in middle school because I would do handstands non stop in our kitchen. I don’t know why that was ever a bad idea? I shot right up, but don’t think I was doing them properly. I just thought the point was to invert oneself. Again, I didn’t follow directions.

carrots n cake crossfit

Tina was kind of hilarious to watch getting up into position. While I got right up, I missed the point of the exercise and was “traveling” on my hands which is not allowed in CrossFit. I love doing handstands in Yoga and in CrossFit was no different. If they offered gymnastics for adults, I would totally sign up.

Last was the WOD. This is the part about CrossFit that has mystified me. The classes are an hour long but sometimes the intense workout is super short. The WOD of the day was Annie which I’m told was not the best day to sit in on a CrossFit class to get the feel of what it’s like, but also a good one for a newbie.

Annie Wod

The “Annie” WOD consists of jump rope double unders and ab mat sit-ups. You start with 50 reps, then 40 reps, 30 reps, 20 reps and finish with 10 reps. I cannot do double unders so I did Level 2, multiplying the number of jump rope rotations by 2 meaning I did 100 jump rope rotations, 50 sit ups, 80 jump rope rotations, 40 sit ups, etc. The point is to go as fast as you can. Other times, CrossFit will prescribe an AMRAP (as many reps as possible) during a given interval.

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Aside from the darn sit-ups, I found the counting to be near impossible. I was terrible at it. The sit-ups were extremely challenging and my core was very sore the next day. The tag of my pants also gave me a nice cut on my tail bone from the repetition. My first CrossFit battle wound! I’m not sure if I was doing them correct but very different from my low curl in Bar.

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I thought I did Level 1, but it was actually Level 2. Between the 8 minutes the WOD took and the warm up, really my heart rate was only elevated for about 15 minutes. I checked the CrossFit website to see if they encouraged other activity and this is what it says: “Part of the crossfit philosophy includes pursuing/learning another sport or activity, and many crossfitters are also martial artists and competitive athletes in a variety of disciplines.

However, if you work the WODs hard, you will find yourself at an improved level of fitness, and for lots of us, the WOD is our primary “sport.”

So even after my 5th CrossFit experience, I’m a little confused. I feel like I’ve yet to experience the what it’s really about. People rave about the community and team work, the challenging workout and competition. However, I guess you can’t get a sense of it unless you really try it out for a month, like I did at The Bar Method for $100.

I heard they do beginner classes for groups so that regular members do not have to go through always having new members taking up time during class having each move explained. However, during our class, I felt like there was plenty of “hang around” time that could have been used to explain. These classes should be offered at a lower rate for people like me who would pay but want to know what they are getting themselves into before signing a contract.

If you are a CrossFitter, how did you get started? If not, have you taken an intro class yet?

Check out the other healthy living experiences Tina and I tried:

I’ve partnered with Harvard Pilgrim on this sponsored post but the thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. You can find more ways to be well at HarvardPilgrim.org/CountUsIn! Check out the incredible football video below to get inspired that when people work together, anything is possible.

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

1 She Rocks Fitness November 20, 2012 at 5:43 pm

Love your honesty about your experience. I am confused by the craze/obsession as well and have no desire to pay to do Crossfit. I do however like to incorporate at-home crossfit workouts into my exercise routing. I enjoy this much more and feel like I always get an amazing workout. Hang cleans and box jumps just don’t appeal to me. I did them in college for field hockey and never want to do them again. HA! Have a wonderful day!

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2 Sarah November 20, 2012 at 5:48 pm

I totally agree with you. I love the speed challenges and AMRAP exercises. I just don’t know why someone would want to spend so much money to roll out their tricep, do handstands and only 15 minutes of work… I know this was just one day but you can do the exercises on your own like you said! Then again, you don’t have a “team” but I don’t know… I think I would like CrossFit a lot if it didn’t have an elitist price tag in Boston. Bar Method is 165/unlimited a month and I pay that. I think it’s expensive, but over $300 is just ridiculous.

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3 NYC Fit GIrl November 20, 2012 at 5:52 pm

I do CrossFit 4-5 days a week and I just hopped right in.. I think you need to go to more than one class to get it.. Sometimes they offer groupon deals so maybe something will come along in Boston.

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4 Sarah November 20, 2012 at 5:55 pm

But this is my fifth!!

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5 Cindy November 20, 2012 at 6:08 pm

I totally wish I could try it here in Glasgow. The closest box to me costs 3x my gym membership and is not close to where I live at all (so more money in transportation costs.) I keep hoping for a Groupon so I can try it out and see if it would be worth the investment, but as a Ph.D student it really just isn’t feasible financially.

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6 Lefer November 20, 2012 at 6:23 pm

My biggest concern with doing CrossFit has always been safety. Seems like they do very heavy lifting very fast which can be disastrous! I still want to try it but it’s hard to shell out all that money when I can get a way more intense workout at home. (perhaps it’s the community aspect, which is understandable) On top of that, I love dead hang pull-ups… i don’t’ know what the kipping is all about! :-)

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7 Rachel @ For the Love of Chocolate November 20, 2012 at 6:26 pm

Sarah, I’ve been doing CrossFit for 7 weeks about 3x a week. It took me until the fourth or fifth week to really get into it! I think until you get into the WODs that involve really heavy lifting moves (front squats, back squats, deadlfts, thrusters) plus olympic lifting (like snatch and cleans) its hard to understand why someone would pay so much money for it. I have seen my biggest strength gains with those moves, and the WODs that involve those moves are the most difficult in my opinion. But they also require really good form, which is why I like having the coaches there for safety reasons.

I can easily do a WOD that involves body weight movement in my own house, so I get why people think there is no point of paying! The addition of heavy lifting and Olympic lifting is what makes paying for CrossFit worthwhile at least in the beginning. It’s also fun to compete against every one in class and to see how much stronger and fit you get over the course of a few months!

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8 Sarah November 20, 2012 at 6:41 pm

THANK YOU RACHEL! I don’t think it’s that I don’t like CrossFit, I just think it will take me (like you) at least a month to get to know it. The price point of entry though in my city is astronomical :/

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9 Tara November 20, 2012 at 6:52 pm

I am so torn about Crossfit. When I first heard of it, its seems like just a big gym of competitors, trying to beat each others time-I was concerned about speed/safety; and the fact that I dont have a competetive bone in my body (except with myself!)

Then I was amazed at the price-the price of a monthly car payment, to workout?!?!
But then, then I see all these femail bloggers who are getting so fit and toned and love the team atmosphere of it all.
I still cannot afford it, but I am more welcoming to the idea, since I have seen such great results from bloggers who have started it in the last year (Tina, Claire, Elizabeth!)

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10 Sarah November 20, 2012 at 7:01 pm

I do know that CrossFit at Tina’s gym is around 180-165 a month and she I believe gets a small discount which she has mentioned on her blog. Elizabeth goes to the CrossFit gym in Southie – if we are talking about the same Elizabeth – I do not think they are as expensive as Back Bay. But yes, it’s quite expensive however, a personal trainer is much much more. They try to compare their results and pricing to that of a trainer. I guess, if I’m paying for an hour with a trainer, I want an hour worth of work and not just a short wod. :/

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11 Stacey November 20, 2012 at 7:06 pm

It’s about $115/month where I live in Iowa. I went once for a trial day and liked it, but after talking to my husband I couldn’t justify the cost. I was looking for something to challenge me more and while I think this would have been a good move for me, I wasn’t committed enough at that point to pay the $. Currently I workout at home and take 1 class a week at our local Community Center. I’m sure in the end after I get results I could justify the cost, but it’s too hard to up front.

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12 Joe in San Diego November 20, 2012 at 7:44 pm

The programming and quality of coaching at each box can vary greatly. Some coaches are excellent with well thought out programming and some coaches are sub-par. Crossfit is well known for their “met cons” which are metabolic conditioning work outs such as the “Annie” you did at CF718. For most people, pushing themselves during metabolic conditioning is hard to do without the competition and support of racing against other people doing the same workout at the same time.

Another aspect of Crossfit is the various skills they work on, such as gymnastics, power lifting and Olympic lifting. The skill work you did for handstands will lead to hand stand push ups which ultimately lead to walking on your hands. Double unders are another skill Crossfitters continually work on.

The price of Crossfit membership can also vary greatly, but with the number of boxes opening rising, each box must justify it’s cost. If a box cannot provide great services for its membership cost, then they will lose members. Most boxes operate on a month to month basis so they must adapt to be successful. I’ve seen boxes which include yoga and MMA to their memberships which increases it’s value greatly.

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13 Danielle November 20, 2012 at 8:21 pm

Sarah I wish you had a better experience. I think it really does vary so much on the box you go to! It definitely gets more expensive for a membership the closer to the city you get! I do know of a couple awesome boxes just outside the city if you are ever looking to go back! Annie is probably not the best wod to give you a sense of the intensity that CrossFit can bring either. And again it totally depends on the box the way beginner classes work. Some places let you hop right in while others will have you do an elements course! A lot of gyms will review the movements every class too. It just totally depends! Thanks for sharing your honest opinion! While I do love CrossFit I know it’s not for everyone and some people just prefer other forms of exercise!

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14 Gregg November 20, 2012 at 8:45 pm

Do you have any idea if they periodize their workouts/months? Maybe you kept popping in during a transistion week? A lower intensity week. I am curious if it is as random as it seems. I don’t follow it enough, or watch the WOD’s enough to see if there is some kind of trend like heavy lifting and low to no conditioning for 3 weeks then a light week with more conditioning. I would be interested know how they plan each month/phase. I just haven’t put the energy or time into trying to see. Sounds like you got put into a group your fitness level was far beyond. The newbie group.

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15 Sam November 20, 2012 at 9:27 pm

You’re awesome and such an inspiration. Love reading your blood and this is a workout I must try. I’m blogging about health to and you’re great motivation to continue blogging and growing both on a fitness level and blogging level. Sugarhealth.blogspot.com

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16 Sara P. (http://fitcupcaker.blogspot.com November 21, 2012 at 1:15 am

I want to try crossfit so bad. Just a little expensive along with all the other stuff i want to do!

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17 Anna S November 21, 2012 at 3:00 am

Hi Sarah,

Thanks for this post. I am moving to Boston next month and love reading about your experiences there! I’ve never tried crossfit but am curious to try it so I looked into the Back Bay crossfit box (is that even the correct terminology?!). I totally agree with you, it seems like so much money for something you’re just trying! …and even after that. I just don’t think I could justify the cost.

Thanks for your honesty and Boston-y posts :)

Anna

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18 Katie DaSilva November 21, 2012 at 3:24 am

I just wrote about this same topic! I was dying to try Crossfit, joined a box outside of Boston so it was around $200 a month and just could never get into it enough to make it worth my while. I didn’t hate it, it just wasn’t for me. I couldn’t devote the kind of time I needed to, to succeed in it. I love running too much to give it up! http://runrunmom.com/2012/11/16/i-quit/

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19 Sarah November 21, 2012 at 4:12 pm

Katie, I read your post and I think after reading it, even if I tried CrossFit for a month I still wouldn’t love it. Thanks for sharing. I agree about the hands and wanting to just run! I have too much energy to only sweat for 8 minutes.

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20 SarahB November 21, 2012 at 4:08 pm

Hey Sarah! I know it may confuse you but Crossfit works! I have been doing it for 5 months and my strength and running gains have been through the roof! I took an ARMY physical training test a week ago (2mile run, 2min pushups, 2min Situps) received the highest score I have gotten. Not to mention I took off 1 minute off my 2 mile run and ran the fastest I ever have in my life and all I’ve been doing is Crossfit! The thing with crossfit is its a program. So some days may be more skill oriented and lower intensity. Where as some days are going to be 15min AMRAP and be tough as hell. You have to remember through the hour of the workout your burning calories the whole time and continue to burn them after. Crossfit works!

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21 christina November 24, 2012 at 7:54 pm

you still haven’t taken a real crossfit class with barbells/strength, heavy weight. You’d have to take foundations to be able to really experience the power. The “beginner” classes with all bodyweight bore me and do crossfit regularly.

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22 Cortni November 25, 2012 at 2:23 pm

I’m a crossfitter in upstate New York. I joined almost two months ago, it definitely took me about a month to really get into it. I was a competitive gymnast and other workout classes I have tried just haven’t been challenging enough. Crossfit workouts vary from longer strenuous workouts, heavy lifting, or quick burst workouts. Personally I like the endurance style workouts, without all of the heavy lifting. All of the workouts can be modified, and I haven never left feeling like the workout was too easy, but it kind of depends on how much you put into it. I pay 100/month unlimited because of a college discount, but you’re right, it would be ridiculous to pay much more than that. And some people are just crazy about it.

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23 Lyn November 25, 2012 at 5:40 pm

Crossfit seems to be all the rage! Every guy I meet seems to be obsessed with it. I have never tried a class (I’m sure you don’t call it a class) but I really want to. I do do cross-fit inspired workouts at the gym. The only reason I haven’t do it is it’s crazy expensive in Australia but hopefully will try soon. It seems a great little community!

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24 Mary December 13, 2012 at 3:30 pm

My first CrossFit class was TERRIBLE. Or, I was terrible and everyone else was awesome. It was extremely embarrassing, but I’m SO glad I kept going back. I’m the kind of person who hates “jumping on the bandwagon,” especially with fitness stuff, but I have to admit that I’m now a CF fanatic.

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25 Sam Davis January 10, 2013 at 5:30 pm

great article. I have been doing CrossFit for six months. yes it is a little expensive but the community motivating factor can not be played up enough. It really does play a part . I tried to work out from home and it just isn’t the same. You will always push harder in the box. check out this doc that CrossFit did that covered the journey of a beginner. There is I think 10 episodes but it is worth checking out. At very worst do the first couple and the last couple. Killing the Fat Man

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XD5axAX9U78&list=SP2933E03B622D0EEA

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