CrossFit for the “Unfit” CrossFitter

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by KATRINA WOOD (follow me on twitter and read more from me here)
CrossFit for the "Unfit" CrossFitter

Photo by The FITographer

“I’m your quintessential Crossfit struggler.”

When I tell people that I CrossFit, I see that little look of disbelief, that “you??”, flash in their eyes. It’s gone quickly enough, and luckily I haven’t yet come across anyone rude enough to say it out loud.

I’m your quintessential CrossFit struggler – pooped by the warmup run, scaled back to the bar, last one to call “time.”
But I’m not offended; I know I don’t look like the mainstream portrayal of a CrossFitter – the hot chick who rocks booty shorts or the pumped up bloke who is ex-military or a firefighter. A quick glance at YouTube or the latest “Dirty Little Secret” media story would have everyone believe that CrossFit is the sole domain of the super-fit and super-strong, and as a plump yet weak 76kg (167lb) middle-aged mum, I do not come anywhere near close to matching up with this mental image.

To everyone outside of the CrossFit community I’m an anomaly. But if you’ve ever been to a box, you know the truth:

People of all shapes, sizes and fitness levels do CrossFit, love CrossFit and live CrossFit.

Me? I’m your quintessential CrossFit struggler – pooped by the warmup run, scaled back to the bar, last one to call “time.¬†Last in almost every WOD measurement.

The following are my tips for the unfit who want to make a change, and who think maybe, just maybe, they can make that call and show up at their local box to give CrossFit a try.


“Figure out how many sessions you can fit into your week and make them non-negotiable.”

Congratulations to my fellow unfit CrossFitters for taking that huge leap of faith and swallowing those nerves to walk through the doors of your CrossFit box in the first place. If starting CrossFit is daunting for those who are already sportsmen or of athletic persuasion, then you and I know the true enormity of that first step.

I started out higgledy piggledy with my CrossFit routine. Sometimes showing up once, twice or three times a week. Sometimes not at all. Taking a break for a week that stretched into two or three.

The turning point for me was when I made a commitment to go to CrossFit three times a week.
Many CrossFitters are used to having exercise as a routine part of their life, but for me and my fellow unfit CrossFitters, committing to and fitting in regular exercise is something really new. It’s hard to keep turning up and it’s easy to find a valid excuse not to come.

The turning point for me was when I made a commitment to go to CrossFit three times a week – Tuesdays 6pm, Thursdays 6pm and Saturdays 7:30am. These times are set in stone, and understood by those around me whose help I need – my husband, my children and my friends. If there is a valid reason that I can’t attend my usual session, then I make arrangements to “make up” that session at another time on another day.

And oh, unfit CrossFitters! Participating regularly has made a WORLD of difference. My strength, fitness, and confidence have improved out of sight. Yeah yeah, who’d have thunk it?

You don’t have to turn up five times a week like some of the other guys at your box, but you do need to figure out how many sessions you can fit into your week and make them non-negotiable.

Listen to Your Body

Listen to Your Body

Photo by The FITographer

“TAKE CARE of yourself!”

I take some comfort in the fact that CrossFit is hard for everyone – a WOD is just as challenging, mentally and physically for an elite athlete as it is for the likes of me, and we are all pushing our limits. But unlike an elite athlete, my body isn’t used to being pushed and tested, and I need to listen to and understand the messages that it gives me so that I don’t injure myself.

When I run, my body screams at me to stop. Running sucks. Of course it does.

And I know that in spite of my protesting lungs, I can and will push myself to continue (even if it is at a shuffling pace) because I understand that the message my body is giving me is akin to a whinging child trying to get out of cleaning their room. But as I finally started lifting heavier, my shoulders began to hurt and I knew that things weren’t right – it wasn’t a feeling of tired, well-worked-out muscles, it felt WRONG.

So I listened to my body and sought out advice from my coach and now I am lifting lighter and really concentrating on getting my form right. As a result I feel so much more confident about my lifting and turning up for WODs.

If you’re not a natural athlete and you’re starting from a low base-point in terms of strength and fitness, TAKE CARE of yourself.

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