When I first started CrossFit, over in sunny Barcelona, Spain (boy, what I'd give to be back there right now given all the clouds and rain lately) I didn't join for any of the classic reasons that someone joins a CrossFit box. From my time asking people why they have come into our box, the number one answer is definitely to lose weight. For me, however, it was to make friends.
"What? Join a gym to make friends? Go to a bar!" I hear you. I hear you. But, for me at the time, I was really focused on having an authentic experience in the city I was at, and I wanted to meet locals. I felt like I had no way to control who I could be meeting at a loud bar which would almost certainly be full of tourists.
For some reason I was thinking about Barcelona this weekend (back to that whole I need to see the sun, thing) and I started thinking about all the benefits CrossFit has to offer. So here is my top ten list:
I have been shocked by how difficult it can be to become friends with people after college. When you go to college, you are thrown into a group of people who you almost have to be friends with because you like the same teams in sports, you go to the same classes, and your schedules are almost the same. Heck, you even live with at least one or two people. Then you graduate and it all becomes a lot more difficult. Sure, you may go to the office and meet cool people, but after work ends, everyone scatters to do their own thing. People have families and outside commitments and it's just hard to make it all line up.
This is where the first benefit of CrossFit comes in. You meet new people, and the ice is even broken for you. It becomes really easy to talk to someone new when you're both out of breath from doing the same workout.
You went to college. You of course never drank (no comment), but you came home that first summer after school and sure enough you had that freshman 15. Then that freshman 15 became a college 15, and now you're two years into your adulting life and that college 15 is maybe your adult 20. The point is, you've put on weight, and you want to get it back off. Awesome, CrossFit is great for that, too. The combination of high intensity work with longer aerobic sessions, and everything between, gets your body guessing and helps you stay motivated and having fun. 90% of losing that weight is just showing up, and that gets a lot easier when you enjoy showing up.
Most CrossFit boxes have a focus on eating healthy, and managing stress. These two habits alone can have a huge impact on your quality and length of life, meaning that you can still roll around on the floor and play with your kids outside when you're 50 years old. While some gyms say you have to eat Paleo to see results, not every box is on that Paleo train. Here's my two-cents: paleo can be great, especially if you're main goal is fat loss, but don't become scared of healthy carbs like whole grains, potatoes, and rice. It is about having a balance, people.
Ok, I don't think that's a word. But it works here. Most big gyms such as LA Fitness and Anytime Fitness are a jungle of cardio machines, a few squat racks (which people are probably curling in), and about 40,000 different playlists because everyone is walking around with headphones in. That's no fun, and it certainly doesn't help motivate you. At a CrossFit box, you get a coach who is there to guide you and push you through those tough moments, and you get a bunch of workout buddies who keep you pushing when the workout gets hard.
There is a common misconception that CrossFit is dangerous. It's not. What is dangerous is doing any workout program without proper instruction and form. One of the best things about CrossFit is that any good gym puts a premium on moving well before moving fast, and eventually heavy. If anything, we probably take it too slow at Summit when getting people to the end goal of intensity.
I remember when I got my first muscle up. It was such an incredible feeling of accomplishment. I had been trying on my own for awhile, and I finally just asked one of the coaches in the box I was at, and he gave me a few pointers, and BOOM swinging ring muscle up. It felt awesome. You will get the same feelings when you join a CrossFit box. You'll do a weighted deadlift when you never thought you could. You'll swing a heavier kettlebell than you imagined. You'll get your first box jump. Whatever it is, whatever exercise you just can't imagine doing, you'll get with some hard work and coaching.
This is the driving reason why I opened my box. If you haven't read our "About Us" page, it's a condensed version of my entire story, but the gym is really a space for me to test just how much I can endure. I know that if I build strength inside of those walls, it will extend beyond where it really matters. When you come into the gym and work hard, your job seems less stressful. You handle that relationship just a little better. I don't know exactly what it is, but I've experienced all of those things, and you can too.
This builds on points six and seven, and maybe it's what makes other aspects of your life seem easier. Whatever it is, when you start working hard and treating your body right, you walk with more confidence, feel better throughout the day, and end up treating everyone better. By taking care of yourself, you take care of the people you care about better, too. This may be actually the best benefit of doing CrossFit.
To be 100% honest with you, I somewhat dislike this term. Toning up is just the easy way of describing what happens when you lose body fat. And you will lose body fat. CrossFit employs a great mixture of weight training and HIIT to achieve some of the best body fat results around. If you keep your diet healthy, drink enough water, and sleep well, you'll experience those same great results you hear about time and time again.
This is the real key to number 9 above. When you have more muscle on your body, you'll actually burn more fat naturally due to an increased metabolism. This makes "toning up" easier, because as you sit around your house doing nothing (hopefully not just smashing donuts) you'll burn more calories and therefore be at least closer to a calorie deficit. You can read about this in a ton of detail, but that's another post.