As much as I’d like to think I am adventurous, I really prefer living in my safe little familiar box. However, sometimes I venture out (or get forced to venture out) of my box. One day I was forced to get out of my little box and enter an altogether different kind of box—a CrossFit box.
I had the opportunity to go to Reebok headquarters and check out their new gear for the coming season. I was so excited to see the facility and meet everyone. I also had the privilege of meeting their fitness experts as part of the event. Our schedule was jam packed with fun workshops, from learning about their newest technology to working out with their pros. This is when things got scary.
Reebok has a CrossFit box on their campus called Reebok CrossFit One. This is the home of 500 athletes, all of whom work at Reebok headquarters. Their professional trainers and CrossFit pros were going to lead us through a Workout of the Day (“WOD”).
Up until this day, I had never done a CrossFit workout or been to a CrossFit gym. Although my husband, Steve, was a certified CrossFit trainer and we used a lot of their training principles, being in a CrossFit box was totally out of my box.
Right away, Steve and I were separated into different groups. My heart was pounding and my nerves were going crazy. I needed my security blanket. Steve is my protector and translator at these kinds of things. I felt so insecure, vulnerable, and alone.
The CrossFit trainer stood in the front of the group and began to explain the workout. He directed our attention to a whiteboard with writing on it that looked like some kind of mathematical code or hieroglyphics. He explained that the workout was going to be a group WOD, where we all would work together as a team. “Oh no,” I thought, “I don’t want to let my team down.” As if I didn’t have enough pressure.
Although I’ve been in the gym industry for most of my adult life, it was like the trainer was talking in a foreign language. He would mention exercises I was familiar with, but still I had no idea exactly what we were doing. He seemed to be speaking in code.
First, the trainer listed the prescribed exercises, weight, and repetitions. Then he explained that the whole workout would be one big relay, starting and ending with a run. In the middle of the relay, the team would rotate through the exercises until several hundred repetitions were completed. Every team would be timed, and the first one to finish would win a pat on the back. That’s a lot of pressure for a pat on the back and some bragging rights.
It was time to start. I understood enough of it to know it was going to be tough but not enough to know what in the heck I was really about to do. So like any newbie, I just hoped someone in my group knew what to do so I could follow their lead.
Although I didn’t really understand the workout, I did understand that we were going to be competing with one another. Each team would be racing to be the first one to finish. “Great,” I sarcastically thought to myself. I hate the element of competition. I already have enough stress just competing against myself. All I could think of was how I wasn’t prepared. If I were ever to compete, I would want to be prepared so I could do well. Nevertheless, I sucked it up and just did my best.
Because I was a runner, I was chosen to do the first part of the relay, which was a 200-meter sprint. I ran out the big roll-up door into the frigid Boston air as fast as my chicken legs would take me. Everyone cheered me on as I rushed back through the door while they waited to start the next part of the relay, the circuit of resistance exercises. I wasn’t sure if they were praising me for my wicked fast pace or screaming “hurry!” because I wasn’t fast enough for them. Who knows, but there was a lot of whooping and hollering going on. The energy was high.
Each person in our team took a place in the circuit of exercises assigned to us. Box jumps, thrusters, and pull-ups were the core exercises in the circuit. We would each rotate through the stations, completing as many reps at each station as we could until we hit the required reps for each exercise. Once we were done with the exercises, we finished with the 200-meter sprint again.
The whole workout was a blur. I was just in survival mode. It probably didn’t help that there was a camera crew there taping the whole thing. Pride was gone. I just wanted to get through it without dying.
People were shedding clothes like it was a strip club. After the workout was over, people were sprawled out on the floor like a massacre just happened and dead bodies were everywhere. Despite the pain and sweat, people slowly began to peel themselves off the floor and make memories. Everyone was snapping photos (me included) proving they survived the workout and posing with the shirtless CrossFit pros.
I won’t lie. There was not one moment of the workout I thought was fun, but I sure was happy when I finished. As I looked around the room, it seemed like many people actually enjoyed the beating. Me? Not so much. Since I’m not a competitive person, I think the competitive nature of the workout added more stress to an already stressful situation. But I can imagine competitive people would have loved it.
To be honest, I have to admit that I trained a lot harder knowing the workout was timed and we were competing with other teams. So as a training technique to get you to work harder, this format was very effective.
Would I want to train that hard every time I went to the gym? Oh, heck no! However, I did realize it is very good for me to get out of my box and try new workout styles, methods, and routines—and more importantly, push me physically and mentally.
Since my first CrossFit encounter, I’ve continued to get out of my box. I change up my workouts a lot more, checking out new exercises and attending more educational workshops. Trying new things has not only improved my own fitness, it’s made me a better trainer. As a result, my workouts are never boring either.
You don’t have to love every workout you do, but it’s extremely important to get out of your box and try new things. The more things you try, the more you learn about yourself and fitness.
Thank goodness for all the different gyms, CrossFit included. The more gyms you try, the better chance you have of finding the perfect match for you.