Fit in the City: CrossFit
It seems as if everyone’s heard of CrossFit, the latest fitness rage that has taken the country by storm! I must have been living under a rock because I certainly was new to the name when I first saw a Groupon deal for it. Well, curiosity got the better of me and I ended up buying that deal for unlimited CrossFit classes for a month. Did I like it? Was it life-changing? Here is my experience with the fitness program, from the time I stepped into the CrossFit Hell’s Kitchen location to when I ended it a month later with sore, callused hands (dramatic, much?).
What it is: CrossFit is a fitness company with locations across the US that offers a strength and conditioning program. It combines movements such as weight-lifting, sprinting, rowing, and jumping rope to achieve a high intensity workout. These elements are incorporated into a WOD, or workout of the day. While that may sound like a lot of other group exercise classes you may have taken, CrossFit is structured differently (you can read about their philosophy here). Performance on each WOD is often scored or ranked to track individual progress and encourage competition (no pressure, now).
What I love: The thing about the CrossFit workout routine is that it’s not routine. As mentioned, there is a new WOD every day. Much of the workout is centered around using weights and performing different forms of weight-lifting (including Olympic-style lifting). The class involves bodyweight exercises and use of barbells, dumbbells, gymnastics rings, pull-up bars, and kettlebells. Because CrossFit demands an intense and total body workout, the classes are short (45 minutes long). By week 2 in the class, I definitely noticed a difference - my arms and legs felt and looked more toned!
Anthony Preischel is the very buff owner and head coach of the CrossFit Hell’s Kitchen location. I found him to be very approachable and knowledgeable, knowing how to help you achieve the correct posture and technique while performing some serious weight-lifting.
What I don’t love: Snatch, clean jerk, overheat squat, push jerk, push press – I had NO idea what these words meant before I started this program (I still don’t). If you sign up for this, t’s really advisable that you take the Essentials class first to acquaint yourself with this terminology otherwise it’s really confusing. This might explain why I felt really lost in class the first few times. In addition, there are some seriously buff people in this class who take CrossFit very seriously. The amount of Rambos and Rambettes I saw added up to making the few classes a little intimidating!
Obviously, the issues mentioned above were those that were specific to me, and I got over them quickly. There are, however, a few things I would suggest changing about CrossFit. For one thing, the place needs a serious do-over. A warehouse converted into a gym with a makeshift locker room and grungy bathroom is not very appealing. Secondly, the classes don’t start on time, which is irksome for a punctualist like me. Also, while Anthony is a great head coach, I’m concerned as to how he can possibly keep an eye on everyone in such a big class. With an unbalanced ratio of students to instructor, I worry that someone might hurt themselves if he’s not there to consistently check on their form and technique, especially when they are doing crazy heavy lifting of weights (I’m talking over 150 lbs here!).
Verdict: No doubt that CrossFit provides you with a great workout and fast results, if that’s what you seek. I might offend a lot of CrossFit lovers by saying this but, while the Groupon deal was great, I don’t think I’ll be going back because of the reasons listed above. My callused hands can breathe a sigh of relief.