After close to 10 years of CrossFit, I can definitely say I've learned a lot but in all honesty that doesn't even begin to cover it. One thing I'm most grateful for is that I continue to learn every day at the gym.
There are a few things, however, that I wish I had known when I started out and I figured I'd share them with you.
1. Just Do It
I was pretty athletic when I started doing CrossFit but I was a little worried about going to seminars and already established CrossFit gyms. I thought I would be holding people back because I didn't have a lot of experience or I couldn't do some things. Man, was I wrong! I have never met a more encouraging group of people than I have within the CrossFit community. You don't have to get in shape to start CrossFit. You don't have to be able to do a muscle up to start. You don't have to know anything, I promise. Come in, we'll show you.
2. Ask For Help
When I first started out there weren't that many people doing CrossFit locally so I mostly devoured all the videos on CrossFit.com and had to seek out people that knew only certain parts of CrossFit, i.e. weightlifting, gymnastics, etc. Now the experience is a lot different. We are here to help. There is a lot you'll learn coming to CrossFit classes and we don't expect you to remember it all especially in the beginning. If you are unsure of how to do a movement or how to scale a workout, use the coaches as a resource. They are highly qualified and there to help.
3. What You Do Outside of the Gym Matters
If I continued to eat the way I was eating when I started CrossFit I wouldn't be able to do half the things I do in and out of the gym, certainly not consistently. I wasn't eating horribly but I didn't always think about how things were making me feel. I have since cleaned up my diet and my performance has improved immensely. I also listen to my body more now and rest when I need to rest. When I was starting out I would push myself every single day no matter how I felt. I learned that that was often a step backwards and wasn't benefiting my health. The time you spend in the gym is less than 5% of your day so take the choices you make outside the gym seriously. Remember to listen to your body or you could be doing more damage than good.
4. Keep Your Ego In Check
No matter what you've done in the past, leave it at the door when you start CrossFit. There is a lot to learn so come in open minded and ready to learn. I have seen people's egos get in the way of their development because they think they are above something. You're not! Also don't look at the class as a competition. You are there to get yourself better and if you work hard, results will come. Working hard will also push other people and that's great but don't get into a competition with anyone else, just yourself. Try to get yourself better each day and good things will happen for you and everyone around you. Simple!
5. Keep Track of Your Results
Reflection is important in anything you do but with CrossFit it's essential to see your growth. I wish I had kept track of every workout since I started but unfortunately, I started a little late. Since the time I started tracking my results I can look back and see serious improvement. Reflecting on your accomplishments can give you some extra confidence when you need it but it will also help you see where you need to improve and help you focus going forward. Early on my conditioning was great but looking at my results, I saw a need for more strength work and was able to change up my focus in order to improve. In a rut? Take a look at results from last year, 2 years ago, etc. and see how far you've come... then keep going!
6. It Can Change Your Life
When I started CrossFit, it was because I wanted a challenge and obviously I wanted to continue to stay in shape but it has become so much more than that. The experiences I have in CrossFit continue to shape the way I see myself. I've been doing this for almost 10 years and I'm now approaching 40 years old but I feel better and better each year. How is that? The things that were challenging in the beginning are much easier now but I continue to find things I need to work on. I'm able to challenge myself almost daily. CrossFit has changed the way I eat and take care of myself because I have learned what makes me feel good and what will help my body do what it needs to do. Be consistent, stick with it and good things will happen.
7. Learn Something New Every Day (The CrossFit Golden Rule)
This one is simple but maybe the most important. Every time you come to class just try to learn something new. It doesn't have to be complicated. Just learn one thing every day. Little by little you'll get better and better.
Overall, be consistent, take small steps and one day you'll be amazed at far you've come.
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I love data! If you've seen me at the gym, you'll know I'm always tracking my heart rate with my Polar watch and chest strap. If you've seen my social media, you've probably seen countless pictures of rower monitors so I can keep track of how I did and try to improve. I even connect my phone to the rower to use an app that gives me more data than the monitor provides. Most nights I track my sleep. Call me a nerd but data really interests me. Without it, I'd have a hard time figuring out if what I'm doing is actually making me better or not.
“...the methodology that drives CrossFit is entirely empirical. We believe that meaningful statements about safety, efficacy, and efficiency, the three most important and interdependent facets of any fitness program, can be supported only by measurable, observable, repeatable facts, i.e., data.”
When you first start CrossFit, you get to live in "PR City" for awhile. Personal bests seem to happen every time you walk into the gym. Experiencing those PRs becomes addicting as we strive to get better and better all the time. If we strive to get better, it's important we have a method of qualifying that.
Why bother tracking your workouts? While celebrating your PRs and bragging to friends about your Fran time is great, tracking offers so much more. Tracking will:
Unfortunately, unlike many other sports there isn't just one metric to track in CrossFit. We don't have a specific device to track the hundreds of movements that we are trying to improve on. The Girls, Heroes, benchmarks, 1, 3, 5 rep maxes? How do we track all of this and see improvement?
For years, I put everything into a small book that I kept in my gym bag. I was diligent about making sure to write down all my workouts and my times, weights used, rounds, etc. Unfortunately, if I wanted to see how today's effort compared to the last time I did that same workout, I would have to flip through the hundreds of pages of my scribbling and hope I was able to find that last time. Not the easiest task! From there, I kept notes on my phone but unfortunately I ran into the same problem scrolling through so many notes in order to hopefully find the one I was looking for. Getting a new phone or updating software always proved a problem as I'd unintentionally delete many of my earlier workout logs.
So what to do? How do you keep track of it all? Luckily the same software we use at APACHE to reserve classes, pay bills, sign up for events, etc., Zenplanner, includes a wonderful workout tracker. We manually add every workout, max lift, row effort, etc. into the system to make it easy for you to track your results.
At the end of your workout simply click on your face on the screen in the main room and you will be prompted with a simple pop up window to add your time, rounds, weight, etc. You can even add a note to say how you felt or how you may have scaled the workout. If you're in a rush, simply add your results on the Zenplanner app or on your desktop computer. All this data is stored for you for years to come.
If you want to see how others are doing on the workout you can take a look at the leaderboard on your app and even give them a virtual "thumbs up" or add a message of encouragement. You can choose to have your workouts not show up publicly too but we're all family and would love to cheer you on. (just uncheck public)
Overall, data rocks! It is critical to your progress as an athlete and will help you and gym continue to improve your level of fitness.
Check out the Zenplanner app here: iPhone Droid
Any questions? Ask any of us and we'd love to help.