If getting stronger physically is at the top of your list of areas in your life where you'd like to make progress, I hear ya.
In September when I began to pursue a long-time goal of writing a book, I just knew that the most important thing that I needed to do initially would be to get stronger physically.
Increased physical strength would carry over into all areas of my life, further supporting me as I pursue my goal.
Since I knew that getting back to the CrossFit gym was the most direct route to getting stronger, I reactivated my membership at JSACF in Manasquan. JSACF was founded by Skip and Paige Chapman in 2006, and it's the 180th affiliate CrossFit gym of the more than 13,000 gyms around the world today.
Around the same time, while waiting for my son at the orthodontist, I was drawn to a magazine headline that read something like "Julianne Hough's 6-Day Workout Routine."
I flipped to the story and read how she works out in a gym 4 or 5 times a week, mixes in either an enjoyable bike ride or hike for the other 1-2 days, and takes one day off. She also explained that her ability to stay consistent is attributed to keeping her workouts scheduled, varied and enjoyable.
Her measurable yet simple approach made a lot of sense to me and seemed doable. So I gave myself a 30-day challenge to workout at least 5 times a week. My average in the past was typically around 3 times a week, but I knew that 5 workouts a week would give me better results and more momentum.
To encourage myself, I decided to keep a workout journal where I'd take a few minutes each day to reflect on my workout (what I did well, what I need to work on, or why I didn't work out.)
Through my 30-day challenge and self-reflection through journaling, I gained a stronger appreciation for the CrossFit workout experience and why it sets me up for success.
But First ... What Is CrossFit?
CrossFit is a branded fitness regimen that combines conditioning, powerlifting, Olympic lifting, gymnastics, rowing, running and a number of other exercises to give members an efficient, balanced, high-intensity workout.
Here's how a typical workout at my CrossFit gym, JSACF in Manasquan flows:
When you arrive at the gym (or "box" as it's known in CrossFit lingo) for a class, your workout is already planned and written on the whiteboard. You're met by a coach who spends the first few minutes explaining to your class what you'll be doing.
From there, your coach leads the class through several stretching and mobility exercises to thoroughly warm up the parts of your body for that day's workout.
Once everyone's warmed up, the coach will demonstrate proper form for the exercises and lifts you'll be doing that day. The group is led to practice the movements over and over to make sure everyone has proper form, especially for any lifting exercises. Because safety and injury-prevention are always stressed, members are given several options to scale each exercise to their ability.
Now it's time to get into the "WOD," which stands for "Workout Of the Day." Keep in mind, the combination of the exercises in the WODs are not repeated for approximately 6 months so your workouts are always varied.
First, you might work on some form of strength training to work on a specific lift, followed by a relatively short (15-20 minutes) but intense workout involving 2-4 exercises that you rotate through while doing a certain number of reps and rounds.
I'm always amazed by how much we pack into one hour. If I were at a traditional do-it-yourself gym, I would be lucky if I accomplished even half of what is accomplished in a JSACF CrossFit class. And time flies because your coach keeps you moving.
CrossFit may seem a little intimidating, but I can assure you, it's for anyone who is serious about getting better! Just by showing up and referring back to the following two reminders, I can assure you, you'll do just fine!
1) Leave your ego in the car
2) Suspend self-doubt
16 Reasons Why CrossFit Sets You Up For Success
1. Coaches. When you arrive at the gym, you're met by your coach who has planned your workout. You don't have to think about what you should do or if you're getting a balanced workout. Every minute of your class has already been planned for you.
2. Community & Camaraderie. Behind every person at my local CrossFit gym is a story. We're all there for different reasons, and we're all in different stages of our lives. But what unites us is we're all there to get better. Unlike a traditional gym, we know each other's names and encourage each other.
3. Proper Form is Taught & Stressed. No matter how many times our coach has walked us through an exercise or a lift in the past, each exercise and lift is broken down and taught again during each class. Our coaches are patient and encourage questions. As you move into the workout, coaches walk around to give you live feedback on your form. They truly want you to be safe while getting the most out of your workout.
4. Personal Encouragement. As you are pushing yourself during your workouts, your coaches walk around to give personalized encouragement and feedback. Some days it's your fellow athletes right alongside you encouraging you. Honestly, it's a great feeling to hear my coaches and classmates tell me I'm doing a great job.
5. A Motivational Flow. Because the workouts are done in a group setting, there's a collective energy about them. You are surrounded by others who are pushing themselves, which motivates you to push yourself more than you would if you were working out alone.
6. An Opportunity To Step Outside of Your Comfort Zone. For me, each workout is an exercise in stepping out of my comfort zone whether it's the new exercise I learn or the way the exercises are combined. The only way we grow is by stepping outside of our comfort zones and this element of personal growth is built into your workouts.
7. Full-Body Workouts. The workouts feel balanced because they're designed to work several areas of the body.
8. Measuring Your Progress. You are encouraged to track your performance each day by counting reps, keeping time, or recording the number of pounds you are able to lift. You'll soon learn what you can do and notice your progress.
9. Strengthen Your Ability To Focus. When your coach explains the workout for that day, specific instructions will be given for setting up the workout and how to rotate through it. You will need to have your mind engaged so you know what to do. This is a great mental exercise in staying present and focused as opposed to wearing your headphones and tuning out during a solo workout.
10. Opportunity to Encourage and Motivate Others. During some of the workouts or exercises, you may be asked to work in partners to count reps as you alternate through certain exercises. I always enjoy encouraging my partners and welcome any encouragement that a partner gives to me.
11. No One Gets Left Behind. Everyone is constantly encouraged to participate in all parts of the workout, regardless of ability. Like I mentioned, there's no tuning-out with headphones. Everyone is fully engaged and involved during that hour.
12. Working Out Alongside Dedicated, Yet Humble Athletes. I find it an honor and a privilege to workout alongside those who are further down the fitness path than I am because it motivates me to push myself.
13. Efficient & Productive Workout. The workout begins promptly at the scheduled time of the class and ends on time as well. Because instruction is given at the beginning of the class, it's important to respect your coach by arriving on time. The discipline needed to arrive on time is another built-in benefit.
14. Push Yourself To Your Limit. The workouts are challenging and designed to give you opportunities to really push yourself. You'll be surprised by what you can do!
15. Feeling A Sense Of Completion. When you walk out of there at the end of your workout, you'll feel proud of yourself and your classmates and no matter how challenging the workout, you'll be glad you showed up!
16. More Inclined To Actually Work Out. No doubt about it, I am more inclined to go to a CrossFit class than I am to work out on my own. I think that's because I know the workout is already planned, and it will be a much better workout than one I do on my own. My motto is, "Don't think, just go." I know that all I need to do is get myself there, and I'll be guided through a great workout.
- During the first 3 weeks of my 30-day challenge, I stayed on track with working out an average of 5 times a week-- 3-5 days at the CrossFit gym and 1-2 days doing something outside, on my own. During the final week, some unexpected things came up in my life, and I fell short of my goal.
- Spending a few minutes each day to journal was extremely helpful for gaining a stronger appreciation for how working out in a CrossFit gym will help me reach my goal
- If you are local at the Jersey Shore area, stop in at JSACF in Manasquan and try a class for free. If you're not local, look into what CrossFit options you have in your area. Investing in yourself and getting stronger will carry over into all areas of your life and into your future.
Now Over to You ...
Have you ever done CrossFit and if so, what are your thoughts? Did you have a similar experience? Do you struggle with working out consistently? What usually throws off your momentum? What keeps you successful? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.