What a Crofton CrossFit Free Intro is Really Like: From the Eyes of an Out of Shape First-Timer
CrossFit can be intimidating for anyone, much less a person who has never lifted a weight with purpose in their life or successfully ran a mile. As a child I did recreational cheerleading which evolved into high school cheerleading, years of competitive cheerleading, and my failed attempt at gymnastics. That being said, I stopped cheerleading (aka exercising at all) after my junior year of high school – which ended 10 years ago (ouch).
Cheerleading was my only form of exercise or fitness motivation growing up and while I was far more active and “in shape” back then, I was about 20 pounds heavier than I am now. From the outside looking in, I’m what some would call “skinny fat.” I often accept compliments from old friends about how “thin” I’ve gotten, without drawing any attention to the fact that I still get winded walking up a single flight of stairs or eat cheese for almost every meal. So as of late when I found myself working at a CrossFit gym, you can understand why this was laughable to those that know me. I insisted that working out was not in my job description and that I would not be tempted to venture from behind my desk to break a sweat. Here at Crofton CrossFit, we offer a free intro session to anyone who is remotely interested in trying CrossFit. Once you sign up for a free intro, one of our two head coaches will meet with you for a one hour session to discuss CrossFit and evaluate your current fitness level, while taking any injuries or health concerns into account. From there, you can decide if the program is something that you want to pursue or not – no pressure. I have seen a 7-year-old boy, a woman in her 60s, and every type of person in between complete this intro with success. So I thought to myself, why not give it a try?
Oftentimes people who show up for these intro sessions seem excited, yet nervous or like they walked in the door with a preconceived notion that they were about to fail. They often mention that they haven’t worked out in over a year, or that they’ve put on some weight, or that they are just downright scared. When all’s said and done, they usually walk out the door with a smile on their face and a palpable sense of pride for what they have just accomplished. At the start of my free intro session, Coach Chris sat me down to fill out paperwork – a general waiver and a basic evaluation. I glanced at the evaluation sheet and blatantly said, “Do you really want me to fill this out honestly?” Of course he encouraged that I be as honest as possible – about my fitness goals, smoking/drinking habits, previous injuries, body pain, meals, etc. The sheet asks, “Are you exercising now? Do you eat healthy?” The answer was a resounding no. I also noted that I’ve experienced back pain as a result of several car accidents and that I had a Rhizotomy surgery performed in the past for lower back pain relief.
Instead of reviewing the sheet and harping on all of of the less-than-favorable responses I wrote in, Coach Chris immediately acknowledged all of the positives – such as having cheerleading experience, knowing the centralized areas of my body I wanted to improve, and having a decent daily water intake. He put the sheet aside and walked me into the gym to a whiteboard where he explained to me that CrossFit is all about performing constantly varied functional movements at a high intensity. He stopped at “high intensity” and noted that this is where a lot of people feel intimidated by the process, but assured me it wasn’t as scary as it sounds. He reviewed the “Bench Marks” and the 10 general physical skills associated with CrossFit: endurance, stamina, strength, power, speed, balance, agility, coordination, accuracy, and flexibility.
For my warm up, he told me to hop on the bike for a few minutes. I’d be lying if I said that my legs weren’t growing tired at the two minute mark. Once I got off the bike, I completed some very brief lunge-type exercises across the gym so that he could evaluate my mobility, flexibility, and balance. After that we went outside so I could perform a 400 meter run while holding a medicine ball. I told him how much I despised running and how I tend to get shin splints from barely jogging. I ran how I naturally would (apparently standing straight up as you can see from the photo) and he evaluated my form and gave me simple tips on how to redirect the pressure on my feet and angle my body to complete the run. This part was difficult for me, but Coach Chris was encouraging every step of the way. Even when I got distracted and stopped briefly to pet a nearby cat outside, he changed his cue to “There’s a pile of kittens over there – GO!”
I caught my breath and we moved on to “Ring Rows,” (pictured at top) which I was certain I would be horrible at because I lack upper body strength and have never done a pull-up. I told myself I wouldn’t be able to do one – I did eight. From there, it was push-up time. Once Coach Chris showed me how people are actually supposed to do push-ups, I leveled myself to the ground, but I couldn’t get back up. As it stands, I can’t complete a single push-up in proper form. Instead of laughing, he showed me how to do the modified version, and I completed six. We moved onto sit-ups, and I exceeded my expectations for myself once again by completing 25 in the allotted time.
The last portion of the free intro session is what is called the “Tabata Squat Challenge.” It is a high-intensity workout compiled of eight 20-second rounds of squats (as many as you can perform) with 10 seconds of rest in between, totaling 4 minutes. It was challenging, yet fun. I felt like I was in competition with myself to do better each round, and even though I struggled during some more than others, that drive was something I hadn’t felt in years. When it was over I was covered in sweat, red in the face, chugging water, and generally proud of myself for surviving.
In the days following the intro I definitely felt sore, but immediately stronger. Since then, I have been inspired to start learning the benchmarks required to participate in the classes. I now know how to perform a deadlift and a back squat with weights, and every single time I am learning a new move in the gym I feel immense support from the coaches and members alike. And you never know, maybe one day I’ll be able to pick myself back up off the ground to complete a real push-up!
The idea that CrossFit is scary or intended only for buff men or people that are already in shape is a major misconception. In fact, I tend to see more women here than men! If I have learned one thing from completing this intro and observing the type of people who come into Crofton CrossFit day in and day out, it’s that the “intimidation factor” that seems to scare so many people away from this type of program (via hearsay or their experience with other facilities) is absent here. Replace intimidation with motivation. Replace fear with drive. Replace anxiety with acceptance. Replace weakness with strength. It’s all here waiting for you.
Ready to try CrossFit? Give me a call!
If you have ever been interested in learning more about CrossFit, or if you are like me and know that it’s time to suck it up and start caring about fitness regardless of how exhausting it seems, I sincerely encourage you to give me a call at 410-697-3742 or fill out this form to set up your free intro session. You have nothing to lose, just a sense of accomplishment and strength to gain.
“You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” -Zig Ziglar