The first time I heard of crossfit, it was at a party where all the guys were comparing their time records. Then, I joined Fitternity and heard some more about the workouts at crossfit. Having not worked out for over two months, I decided it was the perfect opportunity to explore this whole new world of functional training – also I just really wanted to figure out what the hype was about!
So I got in touch with the crossfit genius Deepesh Bhatt, who was kind enough to allow me a weeklong trial at his studio - OM Gym in Juhu. And as an extra challenge, I also decided to try eating healthier food than I usually do – oat-powered breakfasts and protein-loaded dinners, you know. This was my Everest, and I was going to do it right!
Most people tend to shy away from crossfit as a form of exercise due to its formidable reputation – we’ve all read something or heard a story about someone getting injured badly or a screaming shirtless instructor hell-bent on shaming you for a general lack of fitness/strength. It’s not really that accurate though. Before we get in to how I survived my first week, it’s important to understand that it is just a different form of exercising, and my trainer was nothing but helpful in getting through my first session. It’s about motivation without showing you down. Crossfit is not bootcamp, although the circuitous format of the workout can sometimes feel like that.
The basic ideology behind a session of crossfit is to challenge yourself – you’re presented with a series of exercises, you go through the motions and learn all the variations, and then you aim to do as many reps of these as possible within a prefixed time period. It’s probably the best way to understand that everybody’s body works differently – everyone is at different levels of strength and stamina, these are the two things that are inevitably tested in your workout. Through my experience, I realized that somewhere in the middle of doing AMRAP (as many reps as possible) your brain stops thinking, and the workout becomes this thing that your body is just mechanically executing. There’s not enough time for your brain to let your body know of muscular exhaustion. When the entirety of your conscious is focused on the AMRAP, you would inevitably work harder to keep that pace, to try and do your next rep in a lesser amount of time – remember, when you start slowing down, the workout only gets harder!
The first week’s sessions are primarily about getting your techniques right and getting accustomed to this form of training. You’re testing the waters of working out without injuring yourself – remember injuries only stem from an overestimation of how much your body can handle. Personally, I was surprised at how incorrect my posture was.
So, take your time and familiarize yourself with the correct forms, the techniques, etc. and know that week 2 will get both easier and tougher. In the meantime, here are a few simple tips to help you get through week 1 without having a mental break:
· Know Your Limits: Push yourself this first week, but understand when your body reaches the point where it cannot be pushed any further. There is a grotesque thing on the internet called Pukie the Clown – a testosterone driven clown person who’s worked out so hard that he’s shown throwing up – who can be found on most crossfit features.
· Get Enough Rest: With the amount of strain that your body is under while starting out with crossfit, you need to give it enough down time for the muscle fibers to repair and relax. (Read ore about the best positions to sleep in)
· Stay Hydrated: The perfect crossfit week involves a perfect combination of strength and cardio training. When you’re starting off and going from zero to sixty with the workout, you’re bound to sweat more, which means that you need to make up for all that you’ve lost. The human body is 70% water after all! Stick to the recommended 7-8 liters of water a day and you’ll be fine. While working out and right after, be sure to sip your water and not chug it as large quantities of water can make you feel bloated and cause water retention.
· Take your showers hot: This actually goes a long long way in easing muscle tension. There were days when I was stiff all over and would take about five minutes to get up off a chair, but under a nice hot shower the muscles opened up and relaxed. I was having trouble straightening my arm and stretching my legs as well, it was easier to do under the hot shower!
· Regular Motivation: Let’s face it, crossfit isn’t the easiest workout to get used to. There are days when pretty much everything else seems like a better idea than to go to the gym. On those days, we motivate ourselves aggressively. Create a board on Pinterest, follow Instagram accounts, search for motivational quotes and images – there are many related to crossfit and health – and remind yourself of the goal with which you set out.
The importance of motivating yourself cannot be stressed enough. It is a part of the whole process and it is what will keep you going when the tough days come. Although you should always allow yourself rest days and cheat days when your body asks for them. It’s a slow but steady journey. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day!
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