I’ve always said that CrossFit can be good IF you have a smart coach who can meet you where you are, knows good form and knows how to encourage you– but also know when you’re overdoing it.
About six years ago I did two CrossFit workouts, and the second one included 100 push-ups and 100 pull-ups. (I used a band to help, but still…) I couldn’t straighten my arms for three days! I was with a friend, and my ego got in the way, which is why I pushed through. I am a trainer for goodness sake! I should have known better! I’ve always thought the environment of pushing each other was way more dangerous than helpful.
While visiting family recently, I did three CrossFit workouts with my sister-in-law, Karen McCadam, who finished second in her age class (40-45) at this year’s International CrossFit games in Madison, WI. She has partnered with two other accomplished CrossFit athletes to open Crossfit Viento in Hood River, OR.
Karen’s been my sister for 15 years officially, and in my life for 20, so I trusted her as a CrossFit coach. She pared down my workouts, gave me modifications, etc. Her experience as an Olympic weight lifting coach for decades helps her really break down movements and modify for people with injuries. (I was working out at the same time as a teenager with a broken collarbone who was doing everything with one arm, and Karen set up options for her.)
The community at CrossFit Viento really stood out to me. In my first official class (the first unofficial workout was just my brother and me during off hours), a student named Emily helped me figure out that we can share weights by alternating reps. She said we would need time to breath to complete the 20 repetitions anyway. It made it more fun, and she helped me keep count when I forgot.
I was the last one to complete the workout of the day, and everyone was cheering me on and high-fiving me as I finished. That always feels good, even if I did have the lightest weights and the slowest time.
My second class workout involved muscle-ups with the rings. Watching Karen do it was intimidating to say the least. We worked on breaking down each part of it.
My job was to do the first part from the floor with rings at about waist level.
I also could not do 20 double-unders with the jump rope, so I just jumped a few times and tried a double-under every once in a while. Excitingly, I got better every time! Occasional cheers of encouragement from my fellow classmates pushed me along. At the end of class we did a “Hollow Body Tabata,” and it was fun to groan and complain together. Misery loves company!
My brother and I talked about it over pints of cider in downtown Hood River (I was on vacation, okay?), and he said it’s the only workout he’s ever looked forward to going to. Also, their online sign-in system allows them to see who is in class. This builds community, and I would imagine encouraging text messages. (“Aren’t you coming tonight????”) This is a good kind of peer pressure. Also at the bar, some other CrossFitters mentioned that a lot of times the injuries that happen in the “Box” gym are pre-existing things that are brought back to life during a workout.
My warnings still stand that you should research your coaches, know your body, listen to your body, etc… BUT . . . I kind of want to go back!!!