Earlier in April 2011, I was looking for a community of people who were more like me, who I could meet, train with and share similar perspectives on all things to do with nutrition and exercise. I looked through forums on Marks Daily Apple and attempted to form a meet up with fellow readers, however this didn’t work. I needed a group who already were into this stuff, and trained similarly to how I did. The answer snuck in the back door as most of them do, when I was idly searching the Crossfit website for gyms in my area (which I was convinced there were none) and found one literally less than 15 minutes away. I suggested to my brother we go to their session (it started at 6:00pm, and the time was about 5:40pm) and give it a whirl, he was game, so we went. I’ve never looked back.
I was at first a little sceptical. Training three days on, one day off sounded to me a little excessive. I had previously come from the MDA camp of lift heavy two or three times a week, with one sprint session when you feel like it. What Crossfit seems to do is take this one step further and train six days a week, sprinting, well twice a week. In two words, its brutally awesome. A dichotomy of pain and pleasure.
You see the thing is, crossfit is more than just a training regime (yes that’s the way we English spell it), its a way of life, a way of developing a strong sense of community around shared periods of pain, and effort. When you walk into the box (thats what it is), there seems to be a mutual respect for everyone there, because you all know that each of you is there to push yourself to the limit. Sure there’s a healthy sense of competition, however, like in life, its really only a bench mark, and not something to get too hung up about if you’re not as quick as the next guy (this lesson I am still learning when I see my younger brother lapping me!). No, Crossfit is about how far you push your own limits, not anyone elses.
[I’m literally not able to write any more as I’m about to leave to go to a lunch time session at our local crossfit box]
Ok, so I’m back, where was I? Yes, crossfit. Another thing which is so amazing about it, especially in my case, is that I am continuously learning. Its a highly technical sport, which involves as much mental effort as physical. Thats been a massive crux for me, and what keeps me coming is the fact that I am continually learning how to do things better, with better form, and finesse. I still haven’t learnt double unders (two rotations of a skipping rope before touching the ground) and I’ve been doing it over 6 months. I’m still working on getting my feet straight in my squat, and my shoulder mobility is something that definitely needs working on.
The amazing thing really is an ever expanding cycle of new challenges to overcome and new skills to learn. Even best people in the world still have things that visibly need working on (feet turned out in the squat, knees bending inwards when driving back up). As I mentioned in the last post, the biggest strength gains can often be made by improving mobility in the joints, such as the hips and the shoulders, and working on both the larger muscles, tendons and the soft tissues. Obviously there is whole a myriad of ways to increase strength, however this seems to be working very well for me now.
The differences that I’ve found having stretched out my hamstrings and lengthened my anterior hip flexors have been huge. I’m much more comfortable in the squat now, and and my over head position is coming along. However there is a catch which mobility, in that if its not done every day, we do go backwards. I’m realising now that I could easily diverge into an much more in-depth discussion about the importance and techniques for improving mobility, and positioning, but I’m going to safe that for a later post. I’ve really enjoyed writing this short article on of my latest passions, but I hope that its been interesting for you as well.
In short, Crossfit is absolutely fantastic for a number of reasons, ranging from improving personal health and fitness (I haven’t even begun writing about the various thoughts on nutrition, again it will have to wait until later on) to learning humility, to feeling a sense of belonging in a community of like minded people, and changing the way we function outside of crossfit. It may appear as slightly intimidating to some, but from what I’ve experienced, most crossfitters are some of the most genuine people around. It has certainly become a near obsession for me, and is a way of life for many people, or adds an even more effective means of improving any athletes all-round capacity. It is, as I said before, brutally awesome.