As I was writing the next article for EatSweatLive, I realized I wanted to give people some tips as they started or continued their CrossFit journey. This list certainly is not comprehensive, but just simply some tips that I thought were worth sharing after reflecting on things I have both learned and observed so far in my own CrossFit experience, as well as some from friends, whom also enjoy CrossFit.
- Have Fun: This first tip basically goes hand in hand with the other blog post I previously wrote. Examine the reasons that you are doing CrossFit in the first place, set personal goals, and come in the gym with a smile ready to achieve the things that you have set out to do. Leave the daily grind of the day at the front door, or take out frustrations on a slamball, but make sure you are here to have fun. The things that you learn in a CrossFit gym are fun, and the community is motivating and inspiring. There is no better sense of absolute accomplishment than getting that first pull-up, PR-ing a lift, or beating a baseline test.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help over and over again: It is your time, your money, and your health. Please don’t ever be afraid to ask the same questions over and over again, or ask for help with anything. We were all new at some point and understand how overwhelming learning so many things at once can be. Learning the mechanics of many of the movements that we do takes time and patience. Be patient with yourself and focus on those fundamental movements. The pay off will be well worth it.
- Educate yourself: As with anything you do in life become proactive withCrossFit. Empower yourself and learn everything you can about this “sport.” There is a wealth of great websites out there and I encourage all of you to spend some time exploring them and using them as a resource. Some great ones to start with are:
- Keep a workout journal: I know that all of us have started a strength progression sheet at the gym, which is a great way to keep a record of your daily lifts, and maxes. The feeling you get after seeing the numbers increase throughout the year will be immeasurable. I also highly recommend keeping a daily workout journal. Just simply write down your workouts you do along with your total time or rounds. This is especially fun to do with any girl names or Hero Wod’s we do. This year I was given an amazing opportunity to help with the Kyle Maynard event at CrossFit Vitality. If you have never watched him or heard of him I highly recommend you stop everything you are doing and “youtube” him immediately….talk about inspiring people. I watched videos of him prior to meeting him and was forever struck by the comment he made about climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. He said something along the lines of how he was so discouraged at one time about how much more he had to climb, and what he failed to do at that moment was to look back and see how far he had come. CrossFit is like that. There are weeks where you will feel like you suck at everything and nothing is getting easier. At those moments having that workout journal there to remind you of how far you have come is amazing. It is also a great resource to pull workout ideas from whenever you travel.
- Do not underestimate the importance of rest and recovery days. Crossfit is addicting and it is so easy to get caught up in wanting to come in every single day and push your body to the limits. That was me as a CrossFit beginner. I was so excited about my gains that I failed to see that my workouts were actually suffering and becoming less intense from my lack of recovery time. When I finally started to add at least 1-2 recovery days per week the gains in my workouts were well worth it. CrossFit recommends a 3 on/1 off day regimen, which can be sometimes tricky to follow due to busy schedules and gym hours. At least shoot for one complete day of rest and one active rest day a week (even more than that for beginners). Here are questions to ask yourself if you need a rest day, “How did you feel when you woke up?” If you were sluggish, more tired than usual, your heart rate was much higher than normal, or you felt mentally drained, then TAKE THE DAY OFF!!! “Are you seeing the first stages of a nagging injury?” You may not be getting enough rest days! The biggest key is learning to listen to your bodies and also communicate with your coaches. Sometimes you are simply in need of a “deloading week” where we may bump down load and intensity for a few days until you feel yourself and are ready to hit it hard again.
- Don’t be afraid to scale: The prescribed weights in CrossFit are simply a guide. Know your body and it’s limits and listen to your coach on how much weight or what type of movements to stick to during a workout. For a beginner, becoming a master at the fundamental movements like the air squat is way more important than being able to “RX” a workout. Those things will come with time and better proficiency of the movements. Be patient with yourself and work those fundamentals, and the mobility that comes along with helping you become better.
- Own the whiteboard: You are competing against yourself not others. Go at your own pace and let the intensity come naturally for you. Start light, get your form down and don’t worry about those around you and what their times are and how many rounds they are doing. This fitness and health journey you are on is your own so be proud of the fact that you are in the gym empowering yourself while other people are sitting on the couch. Don’t forget to write that score up everyday…own the fact that you are taking charge of your health.
- Start paying attention to your nutrition What you put into your body to use for fuel is so important. Starting in January we will be doing a 6 week “paleo” challenge with every member who wants to. It will include measurements, pictures, baseline testing and incredible community support. The results are often amazing. I know that it is holiday time but try to be mindful of what you are feeding yourself the next few weeks. A good rule of thumb is to stick to the perimeter of the grocery store and avoid items that come in packages. Quite simply put…eat clean. This also includes how to fuel your body post workout. Whether you use a protein shake or actual quality foods, it is so important to fuel your body properly within thirty minutes of your workout. If you need help with ideas for this please don’t be afraid to ask.
- Connect with the community You will be amazed in just a few short months of how close you will become with the members here at our gym. You learn everything about them and are there to witness their amazing transformations into healthier, stronger human beings. Get to know those in class with you because they will become your biggest cheerleaders and motivators. We will do several events throughout the year next year and I highly encourage all of you to try your best to come be a part of them.
- It doesn’t exactly get easier.. If it did you probably wouldn’t keep coming back for more. After two and a half years I am still sore from most workouts that I do. I like that feeling though because to me it is the feeling of accomplishment. Certain movements that you do will get easier, but then you will push yourself to do more. For example at the stage you are in now you may say to yourself, “will I ever get a correct air squat?” The day will come sooner than you think where that will get easier, but than you will start adding more weight and increasing intensity to your squats so it may seem harder again. This is honestly though why we love CrossFit so much and why the sport has so much longevity. There is absolutely always something to improve on and the feeling that you get from reaching each goal and improving on what you do keeps you coming back for more. Nothing can replace the feeling of wonder and the amazing sense of accomplishment you get as you are laying on the floor, gasping for breath and the end of the WOD.