It was almost two years ago when I decided to dabble in the world of crossfit. I had been training at a gym for a long time and I felt the need to try something new, to give the exercise some variety. By chance, a friend of mine who was also certified as a gym instructor and athlete trainer, was about to open his own crossfit box and he invited me to try it.
I do not understand the separation or hostility between those who train at a gym and those who train crossfit, as if one was better than the other. They are different and each one chooses that they most like, as in all sport disciplines. If I had the energy and the time, I would do both crossfit and gym.
I have never considered myself like someone with good physical condition, I had some strength thanks to the gym, but in aerobic exercises I was at a beginners’ level. The first weeks I ended up exhausted, I could not finish even the simplest of routines or WODs as they call them (Work of day). By doing just 20 squats at one time I felt dizzy and I felt I lacked air to breath. I kept training, more due to the commitment with my friend than for the taste of doing it. Part of what kept me going was the time, because in one hour I had a very intense training session, unlike with the gym where it sometimes took me an hour and a half or even two hours.
Without going into too much detail, little by little, as it happens in all disciplines or sports, I gained a better physical condition and I learned to do most the exercises (at first I could not even do a proper squat). Without realizing it I stopped being part of the beginners that stopped in the middle of a routine, and I could finish them; not in the best times, but I did them in the established time limit. I started to like learning the techniques to do different exercises or moves until I could do them in the normal version rather than in the “escalated” form (easier versions of exercises to start mastering them step by step).
A noticeable difference in comparison to training at a gym, is the bond of friendship, of family, of fellowship that forms inevitably. I had friends or mates at the gym, that I said hello to, we talked between series and shared advices. Most of the time I am an introvert person, so I did not have those interactions at the gym as often as others. Nevertheless, in crossfit the social piece is very different. Routines are intense, so during the exercise you can barely speak or exchange phrases, that are generally about how tired you are, or to give encouragement to your mates. I cannot explain it, there is simply a bond that is born while sharing tiredness and exercises after a crossfit WOD. Just like the gym has its typical phrases like “today is leg day”, crossfit has its own that are common and you begin to use them without noticing it. I do not remember where I heard or read, but there is something that binds people together when they are suffering next to one another, even when it is a suffering related to finishing a WOD.
In both I was lucky to have coaches/owners with whom I identified myself. I am a person that enjoys positive motivation that is not excessive (I mean, that they are not behind you all the time), and I hate any kind of negative connotation in phases like: “can you only lift that low amount of weight?”, or “are you already tired? This is a simple WOD”, if I had heard those phrases I would probably gone mad and never returned. In the both crossfit I knew I had the things in the following list that made me want to subscribe and stay until I had to move out of the country:
- The coaches know about crossfit, they share their knowledge and genuinely care about their trainee’s health.
- In addition to crossfit, they share other knowledge like the importance of resting, proper diets, personal experiences, injury recovery and other topics to complement all aspects of the healthy life.
- It is noticeable that the preparation of the WOD is planned and not improvised or made the previous night.
- The coach trains with the exact same WOD it plans for his/her students. To me that means the WOD is worth it.
- There is a healthy competition environment between the people that go there, but there is also focus in personal growth.
- Motivation is positive, encouraging to be better without making the people feel less while failing a goal.
- Coaches understand that each person is different, with different capacity and strengths and they know how to track the improvements of each one, rather than having a general methodology for everyone.
- People (both coaches and trainees) look happy to meet at the box and to try to improve their times. The positive and fellowship environment is tangible. It feels more like a family than a group of people that train together.
- The owners/coaches are passionate about crossfit and are in constant learning to be better, to better themselves and the people they train.
I do not care if the crossfit box is huge, with new and top of the line equipment, if the training environment is negative. This, like everything, is a personal preference since I am not a very competitive person. Even so, a good coach like those I had, makes you compete with yourself and also motivate you to try to beat your mates, while maintaining mutual respect. I am not often motivated to compete with others, but still felt from time to time driven to try to finish a WOD before my mates and give an extra effort in the last minutes of the time limit.
I was lucky to have felt welcomed in the two crossfit boxes I trained, that motivated me to keep going, no matter how tired I ended up after a WOD. This is probably the main reason why I have kept training and I like it more each day. I hope in my new hometown I can find a place to train that is both fun and nice.
To end this article, I want to thank my family at Thunder Hook crossfit in Ecuador. Thanks to my mates (particularly those in the 6 pm class in which I trained), but especially to Pepe, Karlita, Luis Fer and “La tía” (The aunt). I trained there for a year and it was one of the most enriching experiences I had in Ecuador. In addition to having all the points listed above that in my opinion a good crossfit has, and talking specifically about Pepe and Karlita with whom I spend more time, they also have a great kindness that reflect in all they do. They have a big dream that are achieving, growth and improvement goals that share with all the people that join their family. Step by step they have been growing and providing a quality place to train for those who are just starting and those who have some time in the crossfit world. There is a lot of merit for Pepe, to show kindness while making WODs that cause the trainees to suffer, but it is a suffering with purpose and to make stronger all those who do them. I am sure the Thunder Hook family in Ecuador will keep growing, and that the professionalism, kindness, friendship and family will be contagious in all corners of the country, and most probably in other countries too. I definitely miss them.
If you have never trained crossfit, I recommend you to give it a chance. You may like it, or you may not, but I think it is something that is worth trying by yourself without being carried away by other people comments. If you decide to do it, I recommend you look for a place where there is people you can relate to. Maybe you are motivated by intense competition, or maybe you are motivated with personalized attention. Think about that before choosing where to train.
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