“The Ten Things That Happen When You Start CrossFit”

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Joshua Brown is a New York-based financial advisor and regular contributor to CNBC. In July of last year, (as he explains on his blog The Reformed Broker), this is how he began his CrossFit journey

…at 258 pounds and sick of seeing my giant moon-face on TV everyday, I walked into the CrossFit Lighthouse in Wantagh, Long Island and submitted to a long-overdue comeuppance. I marched my Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man-frame into a firefight I wasn’t truly prepared for.

Even though he acknowledges he has a long way to go, Joshua goes on to detail a series of introspective thoughts as to the ten things that happen when you start CrossFit:

1. You will find out how truly out of shape you are.

It is likely that your first few sessions at a CrossFit gym will consist of stretching and basic instruction. You will likely sweat like a pig and require numerous breaks to catch your breath even during this relatively easy phase. This is because you are engaging and stretching muscles that have been dormant for years. You will also be sucking at the air for every molecule of oxygen you can get. It will be a week or two before your lungs are really open, prepare to gasp like a newborn taking its very first breath.

(For more, see Friends Don’t Let Friends Get Skinny Fat)

2. You will realize how fat you and other regular people are compared to real athletes.

Role models:…your certified instructors will have the physiques of comic book superheroes. You will weigh 40% more than them but they will be somewhere between 50 and 150% stronger than you.
This is because your certified instructors will have the physiques of comic book superheroes. You will weigh 40% more than them but they will be somewhere between 50 and 150% stronger than you. It will make no sense that such “little” guys and girls are that much more powerful than you; it’ll be rather disorienting, especially if you’re a big guy like me who thought he was “strong” walking in. The instructors are not huge or freakishly jacked like traditional body builders, but I wouldn’t want to bet against them in any contests of strength. The idea is to be able to lift heavy weights but in as efficient a manner as possible, and then to be able to run a mile while the old school body builder huffs and puffs behind you. And you, big guy, are not strong. You are fat and incidentally may be able to lift some weight up. You will learn about real strength very soon.

3. You will begin learning the lingo

and using it without feeling like a dork …

4. Your friends and family will start Googling the term “CrossFit” and giving you warnings. 

CrossFit is safe: You are equally likely to be injured while ice skating, lifting weights alone, horseback riding, surfing or doing any other type of strenuous activity if you are engaging recklessly and not taking the proper precautions.
“Oh, you’re doing that Cross thing, I think I just read something about that…”  They will come across a rare disorder wherein people push themselves past the exhaustion point until their muscle fibers begin to break down and slip through the bloodstream into their kidneys. They will also come across stories about injuries and the like associated with CrossFit search terms. The reality is that these types of injuries can and do occur with any kind of training if taken too far and under the wrong type of supervision. You are equally likely to be injured while ice skating, lifting weights alone, horseback riding, surfing or doing any other type of strenuous activity if you are engaging recklessly and not taking the proper precautions. I would also note that there is an ongoing fear-mongering campaign being waged by the traditional fitness clubs and gyms. They see the proliferation of the CrossFit movement across the country as a massive threat to their membership rolls. There is no possible way that a guy doing his usual leisurely circuit around the same 12 or 15 machines in a gym is ever going to get the intensity of a workout at a CrossFit box.

(For more, see Top Tips for Your First Two Years of CrossFit)

5. You will get insanely good at counting.

Everything in CrossFit is about reps. 20 clean & jerks followed by 10 box-jumps topped off with 30 sit-ups, then repeat five times and compete for time. Think about the counting, the counting down, the mental division of large quantities of reps into small, more manageable-seeming blocks.

“Okay, let me get five more then take a breath and then just three more and then only two sets left until I’m three fifth’s of the way through the five rounds.”

CrossFit challenges more than your body

This is the kind of conversation you’re carrying on with yourself in the heat of the W.O.D. and you’ll become very proficient at counting backward as well – “seven more…six, five more, c’mon, four…” Whatever it takes to get you through.

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