Why CrossFit is for Everyone

CrossFit's sense of community makes this more than just a workout.
By Jamie Toland, CF-L1 ,

The New Year’s resolution has become laughable. I’m not even sure that most people are really giving themselves the traditional January/February effort to attempt to follow through on them. I know that I’ve made them in the past and they are probably similar to ones many of you have made. Tradition would illustrate that resolutions such us that losing weight, working out more, stop drinking, stop smoking, go to church more and spending more time with the people a few of the most common attempts. But how many people really follow through and maintain these until they become actual changes?

In 2010, I did not make any New Year’s resolutions. I did not set out to lose weight or get in better shape (although I really did need to do both). It was March and my brother-in-law suggested that I go and check a CrossFit place, which had just opened a few days earlier. I went in thinking I would look around and see what the place was offering, but mostly I wanted to see how much it was going to cost each month. I’ve already told the story of that afternoon, but the point is I just had to take the first step.

This step only came after I had been sitting on a bench at the mall one afternoon while shopping with my family. I looked down and saw my stomach hanging over my belt. I wasn’t sure when or how that had happened, but I sat there staring in disbelief and decided that I needed to make a change. This realization was a long time coming, but it wasn’t some empty resolution. I had reached a crossroads in which I could either keep doing what I was doing or I could find something to try to make my situation what I wanted it to be.

I read all the time how annoyed people are about the number of newbies in the gym from January to March. They come in, don’t know where anything is or how things work, use up all the machines, get in the way and just like winter, they tend to disappear in three months. I was that person time and time again. I do feel that if some of the existing members were more encouraging to the newcomers, maybe they’d stay longer than a few months and be able to find the change they are looking for. Maybe the truth is they aren’t wanted there, but at the same time people just need a place to start.

So often people will ask, “Why CrossFit? What’s so different about it?” Aside from the cult aspect of it, not much. All joking aside, it gives me a sense of community and something new to work on every time I go in and train. I was never one for headphones and bench press and curls or mind-numbing mile after mile on an elliptical or treadmill (man, I hate those things). Being able to train alongside others doing similar work capacity and sharing the experience of surviving a workout makes for better personal growth and makes the CrossFit experience different from other things I’ve tried and not stuck with.

Recently, I saw two videos that really struck me. One was posted on the CrossFit Journal site about a 68-year-old man named Harv who was very overweight and reached a point where he knew he had to make a change or probably end up dead. He had no experience with anything resembling CrossFit training. Regardless, Harv went in completely apprehensive at almost 70, determined to get anything out of the experience. I would recommend if you haven’t watched the video that you take 6 1/2 minutes and go watch it on the Journal’s site. What if the people there had rolled their eyes and put on their headphones at the site of Harv, waiting for him to get up so they could get more time on their machines?

The second video was posted of Kyle Maynard, a former collegiate wrestler who was born without arms or legs, doing burpee box jumps at a recent tour/talk he was doing at a CrossFit affiliate. You have to consider that if a man with no arms and no legs can perform this complex movement, what’s stopping a perfectly regular person like yourself?

I’ve seen and read about a number of “disabled” athletes from all walks of life doing CrossFit as their form of exercise. Many like it because it’s completely scalable to all strengths, ages and abilities, but I would say that more than that in both of these cases, CrossFit is perfect for these people because it is accepting of all types. In my experience, affiliates normally start the process by focusing on what the individual can do and not worrying about what they aren’t able to do yet.

If you’re interested but nervous about trying CrossFit, there are literally thousands of affiliates all around the world and any good one will offer to let you come in and try it for free to see if it is something you’d like to do. Who knows, you could be grinding away next to me someday. Email me your stories about your CrossFit experiences or encouraging tales of others who you’ve come across in your training at jtolgrinder@gmail.com.

Stay on (or get on if you haven’t started yet) the Grind.

Loading ...