Note: I am planning on taking another intro class at at least 1 more CrossFit gym to further my experience with them as only visiting one is clearly not enough.
Yes, you read the title of the post correctly. You see after I put up my blog titled “In Defense of Crossfit” I got quite a bit of feedback. Some of it positive, some of it not so positive. And for the responses I got that weren’t so positive, I probably owe you an apology. I wrote that piece based on the accounts of other friends and colleagues and articles I’ve read and heard about when it comes to Crossfit. I had never actually experienced it for myself… until this past Saturday that is…
So there we were, Pat and I, soaking up our surroundings. “Damn, look at that dude doing box jumps,” said Pat. “That’s gotta be almost 5 feet high!” And Pat was right, that dude (white dude mind you) had some serious hops. But it wasn’t a box jump. A running start does not constitute a box jump. Props to the guy nonetheless. Next, he pointed out the very fit looking woman in the corner of the “box” doing kettlebell swings. Only problem was her extreme extension at the top (a common mistake and cause of low back pain when doing these). You’ve got to lock them out with your glutes and abs at the top. Among them was a class of about 12 people finishing up their workout, er… excuse me their WOD, with wall balls.
Within minutes we had met our instructor for the day. She was in her mid to late 20’s and could no doubt kick my ass. Seriously, I’ve been strength training consistently for 15 years, have roughly 10-15 times more testosterone than her, and yet she had greater musculature than me in pretty much every way possible. Or as Pat so nonchalantly blurted to the rest of the newbies, “Damn dude, her arms are bigger than yours!” Thanks, buddy.
So the class we were taking was “Intro to CrossFit”. And our instructor was relatively well versed in her knowledge of basic movement patterns although squat depth/positioning and push-up depth (chest to the floor or it doesn’t count) could use some work. In her defense though, this was a free class on a Saturday afternoon and she may have just wanted to get in, get out, and get on with her weekend. The plan for the day was pretty simple:
- 400 meter run
- 40 air squats
- 30 sit ups
- 20 push ups
- 10 pull ups
Note: Instruction was given for all exercises prior to doing them
But before we got right into that we all filled out waivers and indicated past and current fitness regimens and any injuries or conditions that they needed to know about before we started. Pretty normal. And as I had suspected, no one knew what spondylolisthesis was. You likely don’t either. Hell, I just got a red squiggly line underneath that as I wrote it and it didn’t even have any suggestions for me. A quick Google search will show you what the lumbar region of my back looks like. Essentially what it means is that I am unable to perform Olympic lifts, deadlifts (except RDLs), heavy squats, kettle bell swings, etc. So to put it more clearly, I am unable to do what CrossFit is primarily composed of.
So there we were, just finishing up our 400 meter run and jumping (literally) back into the box to start our 40 air squats. The instructor told Pat that he needed to get deeper with his squats. And to the untrained eye, she was correct. However, Pat is built differently and for him I felt his depth was correct. I was given no cue. I almost purposely performed all the exercises poorly to see what cues would be given, but decided to go ahead and do them correctly and see what her recommendation was at the end of the class.
Next up were the 30 sit ups. And honestly I’m still shaking my head as to how these were performed. We all were on the floor with a little black pad under our lumbar region and were instructed to, using as much momentum with our arms as possible, sit up as abruptly as possible. I’m not a fan of sit ups in the first place let alone doing them in this manner. Nonetheless, I completed them as prescribed.
20 push ups wasn’t so bad, but to be frank, at this point I was breathing a bit more than usual and was starting to get a nice burn going on. After finishing them, I took probably 2 minutes before heading over to the pull up station.
I knocked out all 10 pull ups (no, not kipping style) and waited with Pat for the rest of the class to finish up. It was also at this point that Pat asked “how many rounds do we do?” A lot of the class laughed, but Pat teaches (and commonly joins in on) boot camp classes almost every day at a MUCH higher intensity. For him it was literally a nice warm up.
We were all now back in our chairs discussing the class among one another and the instructor was about to give the pricing, schedule, etc. for how they operate there. And I felt that considering their location and everything that they were under priced. I’d have charged more. But it was almost finally time… how had I done? Was I ready to get started? What grade would I receive?
Well, funny thing that. Everyone in the class was told that we should all do 2 weeks of the intro class before jumping in to work on our form. Yep, I’d not done so well evidently. Oh, I’m sorry I almost forgot. Not all of us was told this. There was one girl who had done CrossFit before in Texas and having moved here she wanted to see if she liked the gym and thus took the class. Of course she was decked out head to toe in CrossFit apparel. And during the air squats came up on her toes with knees caved in and well forward of her toes. So she was told that she was all ready to rock and roll with the normal classes. This is what probably stuck with me the most.
So in closing, I’d say that overall I was rather unimpressed with the class and this particular CrossFit gym. But as I noted in the beginning of this post, I will be trying out at least one more “box” and will have a follow up to this post.
Til next time…