Six Month CrossFit-iversary

Today marks six months since my very first CrossFit class. I thought now would be a good time to check in with how I’m feeling and how it’s going.

As I have said many times already, CrossFit is great for me. I’m feeling a lot stronger and more comfortable in my own body than I have in a while, which is a pretty nice feeling. And I’ve had some notable gains since I first started, including:

  • I can do two or three “real” push ups (from my toes)
  • I used to not be able to do overhead squats even with just a PVC pipe, but now I can do an entire workout with a 15# bar plus a bit of weight
  • I used to be told every class that I wasn’t squatting low enough, and now I’m actually being told that I’m squatting too low
  • My shoulders look beastly, in the best possible way–my traps are POPPIN’!

I’m also really starting to feel like I’m part of the CrossFit Burlington community, which is wonderful. The people at my box are just so cool, fun, encouraging, and inspiring. Honestly, if it weren’t for the people, I don’t know that I would have stuck with it this far. The recent pig roast sort of solidified that feeling. I was nervous about it and planning to only stay for an hour or two, but ended up staying until midnight, just talking and laughing.

Additionally, my mental toughness quotient has gone way, way up. It no longer crosses my mind during a workout to say “I can’t” or “I give up.” I can slow down, or catch my breath, but stopping just isn’t an option. Even if it’s something I KNOW I can’t do, like scaling a wall during obstacle course training, I TRY. I’ve got bruises all over my arms from trying over and over again to pull myself over that wall. I’m proud of those bruises, because they represent a huge change in me. Before CrossFit, I rarely pushed myself outside my comfort zone. Now, pretty much every class has me way outside my little box, and I freaking LOVE it. CrossFit makes me feel like a total badass, like nothing else in my life, including running, has.

Unfortunately, there are some things that I haven’t yet achieved, mostly through my own shortcomings. I haven’t been super consistent with going to class since April, which makes it hard to have consistent improvement. I have a few long-term fitness/CrossFit goals that I know I will never reach if I don’t make going to class a priority, and get there more than once a week.

I also haven’t really lost any weight, which has been disappointing. I expected the fat to just melt away due to all of the lifting and gaining muscle mass. I realize this was a very unrealistic expectation, mostly due to a) not going to class consistently, as I’ve already stated, and b) nutrition, which is a constant struggle for me, as those who have been reading this blog for a while know.

The good news is, I’ve been doing really well with my “no booze during the work week” rule, and have also been doing “no sugary treats during the work week.” I said no to brownies, yesterday, people! There’s been a box of pastries on the kitchen counter since Grammy’s birthday on Sunday and I HAVEN’T TOUCHED IT. I’ve also eaten salad for lunch three times this week, and I’m drinking upwards of 90 oz of water a day for the show, so I’m currently on an upswing in the nutrition department.

Things are going to be crazy for the next month due to Dogfight rehearsals and shows, but once the show is over, I am going to fully commit to going to class three times per week, no excuses. I’m hopeful that bringing some consistency to my training and cleaning up my diet will help to encourage the improvements I’ve been missing.

Regardless of my own shortcomings, I’m SO GLAD I started going to CrossFit, and hope to continue going as long as my body and my budget allow it.

My First Actual, Legit CrossFit Workouts

In case you haven’t been following along for the last couple of weeks, I’m in the process of giving CrossFit the ole college try. You can read about my intro class here, and my one-on-one foundations class here.

Friday night I had my first actual, full-length CF class with other members of the box. I can’t lie, going in I was feeling INCREDIBLY nervous. Will the other people be nice? Will I hurt myself? Will I look like a spaz? Will I be able to keep up? Why in god’s name did I sign up for this? My stomach was in knots, and I arrived as close to the 5pm start as possible so I wouldn’t have to stand around feeling awkward and nervous.

When I got inside, I basically just walked up to the first group of women I saw and said “Hi, I’m Rachel, and I’m new,” like a total dork. But it worked. Everyone was super nice, particularly a woman named Laura, who was at the box when I was there for my intro class, and she remembered me.

Right at 5pm, the owner, Beau, got us started with warm-ups, but not before introducing me to the class and letting them know it was my first workout, which I thought was a really nice touch. After warm-ups, we went over the day’s workout, which pretty much went over my head, and I won’t get into too much detail here. Before getting started, Beau made sure that I knew what I should be doing, and gave me appropriately scaled weights and/or modifications to make sure I wouldn’t hurt myself.

Both Beau and Laura kept an eye on me throughout the workout, offering encouragement and helpful tips for my form. By the end I was definitely feeling it, but I wasn’t completely shredded. I felt like I had accomplished a lot, and felt like I really got the help I needed to be safe. I was also absolutely brimming with energy. I felt incredible. I bounced my way through a three hour dance rehearsal right after class because I just felt so good.

Monday’s class allowed me even more individual attention and coaching because both Dave and Beau were watching my form, giving me modifications, and checking in frequently to see how I was doing. The people at the box are super friendly and so encouraging. There was a girl who had been working really hard to get muscle-ups (click here if you don’t know what that means), and everyone was right there, offering tips, encouragement, cheering, and then right before the next class started, she got it, and everyone was so pumped for her. It made me feel really good.

So yeah. I like CrossFit. An awful lot. I never thought I’d be typing those words, but here I am. I’m paid up through the month of January, and I’m pretty sure I’ll keep going through February too. If nothing else, it’s something new and exciting. But I feel like it could be more than that for me. We’ll see. 🙂

Have you ever tried something you were skeptical of, only to find you really liked it?

 

 

 

Friday Free-For-All – 01/13/17

Photo Jul 14, 10 05 37 AM

We went out to a fancy dinner on Tuesday night. My father in law wanted to take the whole family out for dinner before Emily heads back to Prague. The thing is, this fancy shmancy restaurant has two locations. I assumed it was the one in Stowe, VT because that’s the original location. It didn’t even occur to me until I arrived at the restaurant that our reservation just might be at the other location. Which is in Burlington. Which is where I work. A quick text to Ben confirmed that I was indeed in the wrong place, meaning I ended up driving about 50 miles and an hour out of my way before finally ending up in the right place. Ugh. In spite of that, though, the food was excellent and I had a great night.

I had my one-on-one CrossFit “Elements” class last night. Coach Dave continues to be awesome, and I met a couple of members, which was also nice. It’s hard to tell at this point whether or not I really like CF because I’m still learning and I haven’t been to a regular class yet, but I’m continuing to try keep an open mind, have fun, and learn a lot. I’ll be attending my first actual class tonight, so hopefully that will help me get a better handle on things.

Emily went back to Prague last night. She was home for just about a month, and it was so much fun having her around. I’m going to miss her! I not-so-secretly want her to move home so we can hang out all the time, but she really likes it there, and just got a great job working admissions at a university, so I don’t think she’s moving back any time soon. Ben will be going to Prague to visit her this summer, but I just don’t have enough time off from work to make it happen, and I’m super bummed.

ringI bought a silicone “wedding ring” for CrossFit. CF involves a lot of work with bars, so I knew that wearing my wedding band and engagement ring would be a bad idea, both for the health of my fingers, and the health of the rings themselves. It feels weird not to wear anything, so I wanted to get a placeholder that I could safely wear while lifting. My friends Aimee and Andrew swear by their Qalo brand rings, but I couldn’t justify spending $20-25 on something I was just going to wear to class. I did a little snooping on Amazon and found a similar product for a whopping $8 with Prime shipping. So far, so good.

Married folks, do you ever go sans rings?

 

My Intro to CrossFit Class

On Saturday morning, I hauled my buns to CrossFit Burlington. The main reasons I chose this particular box are a) it’s less than a mile from my office, and b) their class schedule is the most convenient for me. I was a bit skeptical because they didn’t have any pricing listed on their website, but I was willing to just give it a shot.

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When I first arrived, I felt SO out of place. If you’ve ever been to a CF box, you probably know what I mean. It’s just not like other gyms. There are no frills. Nothing is pretty. It’s a big open space with pull up bars, stacks of weights and medicine balls, and rowing machines. I was further discouraged when I got to the desk, and without even saying hello, the guy working there just handed me a waiver to fill out. Like, “OK, nice to meet you too, guy.”

Only after I had filled out the waiver did I receive any verbal acknowledgement from the desk guy. He asked if I’d ever done CF before, if I’d ever done any high intensity workout program before, or if I had any injuries or illnesses that might make me unable to complete certain exercises. After that, he said that we’d be working with Coach Dave, and to make ourselves at home until he came to fetch us. I nervously struck up conversation with the only other noob present, a guy named Rob. He was really nice, and just as nervous as I was, so I felt like I had a good companion.

Going in, I was fully prepared to bail if I felt at all like I was being pressured to do things I had no business doing, but thankfully it never came to that. When Coach Dave came over and introduced himself, I immediately liked him better than counter guy (who as it turns out is the owner?). He explained that we’d do a tour of the facility, go through the standard warmup, break down some exercises, and do a workout using those exercises. He was very friendly, clear, and checked in with us frequently to see if we had any questions.

He took us around and showed us the board where they post the weekly schedule and the workout of the day (WOD). As we walked around, several people offered greetings, told us to have a great workout, and that we were going to love it, which I thought was nice. Everyone seemed really friendly and outgoing. After that it was time for warmups, which were pretty standard dynamic warmups–high knees, butt kicks, and other similar exercises back and forth across the floor.

Next we went over proper squat form, because a squat is one of the “9 foundational functional movements” of CF. It’s also part of a wall ball toss, which we’d be doing as part of our workout. Generally, I pride myself on my squat form, but I got a few good pointers from Coach Dave, and I was DEFINITELY feeling it more than I usually do by implementing his suggestions. We also learned box jumps (which are scary!), proper pushup form, and wall ball tosses. I was already a bit tired just from learning the exercises and going through them a few times, but now it was time for the actual workout. We were to do 9 wall balls, 9 situps, 9 box jumps, 9 pushups, and then grab the medicine ball and run out to the sdiewalk and back. We’d have 9 minutes to do as many reps of the cycle as possible.

Now, 9 minutes doesn’t sound like that long, but when you don’t have a recovery period in between exercises, well, it starts to be a lot harder. I completed my first round doing full pushups and jumping onto a 16 inch box, but the second round, I had to switch back to the 8 inch box, and I did a nine count plank instead of pushups. Coach Dave had offered this as a modification, but I still expected him to berate me for not trying pushups. Instead, he shouted “Great plank, Rachel, nice!” which surprised me and made me feel good. Throughout the three reps I managed to complete, Coach Dave was encouraging and positive, never mean, never telling us that we weren’t good enough, or giving us a hard time for taking modifications where necessary.

By the end of the nine minutes, I was breathing hard, shaking, and feeling a bit pukey, but also feeling really proud of myself. Rob and I high fived each other, and Coach Dave high fived each of us as well. We took a few minutes to recover, and then it was time for the pricing/membership spiel. If we want to join the box, the next step is a one hour, one-on-one session with either Coach Dave or the owner to go over the 9 foundation movements and make sure we can complete them with good form. Many CF boxes offer a two week foundations class for $200, but CF Burlington just condenses it into this one-on-one session, which costs $50. After that, 12 classes per month are $165, or unlimited classes are $195. These prices are comparable to other boxes in the area that I’d researched, so I wasn’t too surprised. On my way out, the owner actually remembered my name and said good job, so that helped to revise my opinion of him a bit.

All day Sunday and Monday I had some pretty intense DOMS, particularly in my quads, but nothing that I haven’t experienced before after a tough workout or race, and today I feel completely back to normal. I’ve already signed up to do a one-on-one session with Coach Dave tomorrow night, so I can give CrossFit a serious try for at least one month, to see if it can get me where I want to be. I liked Coach Dave, I felt like the other box members were pretty nice, and I felt like I got a lot out of a relatively short workout. With how busy as I am, I just don’t have the time to commit to spending hours slogging away at the gym. Having a short, intense workout is just what I need right now.

Have you ever tried box jumps? Do you find them scary too?