Crossing Over Into the Land of CrossFit

I have a little confession to make. CrossFit intimidates me — or at least it did until recently.

Now, I don’t consider myself to be a delicate flower when it comes to my workouts. I’m AOK with getting dirty and sweaty to get my heart rate up. But the fitness facilities I usually workout in and the choreography-based classes I usually teach seem frilly when compared to the basic workout space and raw, athletic moves that go hand-in-hand with CrossFit.

But knowledge is power (and I needed to do research for an upcoming article for American Fitness Magazine), so I decided it was time to give CrossFit a try.

CrossFit is a core strength and fitness program, which incorporates basic, explosive moves such as deadlifts, pull-ups and burpees. Workouts are meant to be intense and challenging, but the program welcomes everyone from beginners to advanced athletes.

I reached out to CrossFit Atlanta, which is located in Midtown, and received a quick response from Leah, who is one of the trainers. (If you’re not in the Atlanta area, you can find a CrossFit gym in your neck of the woods at http://map.crossfit.com.)

I met up with Leah (pictured above) on a Tuesday evening for my free trial session in CrossFit Atlanta’s warehouse-turned-minimalist gym. (Most CrossFit gyms will offer something similar because of the way the program is structured.) I told Leah to take me through the session as if I were new to exercise, and I have to say that she did an excellent job of explaining correct form and the CrossFit philosophy. I could see that she is really passionate about CrossFit and wants to share it with others.

During my hour-long session, Leah took me through a warm up on the rowing machine, and taught me the CrossFit approach to various exercises such as push-ups, sit-ups and burpees (which requires you to go through the FULL range of motion). I also did a nonstop nine-minute circuit of burpees, dead lifts and sit-ups to get a taste of what a CrossFit workout is like. We wrapped up with a stretching session.

So what did I think? Well, I would workout with Leah again in a heartbeat. And I appreciate that the CrossFit program isn’t just a workout — it’s a lifestyle program. Participants get help with workouts and healthy eating, and by joining the gym, you join a community. The reason why CrossFit isn’t a good “fit” for me is because it is a time and financial commitment that I can’t make.

Before you can participate in group workouts, you are required to take a prep course, which costs at least a couple hundred dollars and consists of several sessions. Now, I agree with the CrossFit folks that the prep course is a necessary step. During the course, participants learn things like proper technique, which is important given the high-intensity nature of this workout program and the potential for injury if you don’t know what you’re doing. And there's the financial commitment once you are eligible for group workouts.

But if you’re curious, I encourage you to check it out for yourself and call CrossFit Atlanta for a trial session. In this case, just because it’s not a “fit” for me, doesn’t mean it won’t be for you.