Overcoming the Fear of CrossFit
As the publicity of CrossFit grows, it seems that the fear of CrossFit has also. As a veteran CrossFitter, I often forget the first day I stepped foot into a CrossFit box– the intimidation I felt, the stress of “Am I doing it right,” and the feeling of “Everyone here is fitter than me.” Now that CrossFit is such a big part of my life and it’s a place I feel happy and confident, it’s hard to understand why people are so scared to try it. So I want to help others understand why the common fears should not be fears at all. Let’s start with a breakdown of what CrossFit is:
CrossFit is defined as a generalized fitness program consisting of constantly-varied functional movements performed at high intensity.
SO… what the heck does that mean? Let’s break it down:
Generalized fitness program: this just means it is not specific to any sport. It was created to make you well-rounded and ready for anything that might come your way.
Functional movements: we do things that mimic daily living activities. For example: farmer carries mimic holding bags, such as grocery bags. Squatting is how you get up from the bed, a chair, the toilet, the floor, etc. Clean & Jerk mimics picking up a box and putting it on a shelf.
Constantly varied: We are always mixing up the movements to keep things interesting (and allow for maximal progress!).
Performed at high intensity: most of what we do is done quickly. Working for a shorter amount of time at a higher work capacity tends to yield quicker results.
There you go, that’s the basic gist of CrossFit. Pretty straight forward– nothing crazy, right? Well, NOT according to many people who have yet to give it a try. See below some common misconceptions around CrossFit:
1) “I’m not fit enough.”
We hear this time and time again. Many people have it in their minds that CrossFit is something meant for super fit people, and in order to start CrossFit you need to join another gym to get in shape. I assure you that is not necessary! And if you keep telling yourself: “I’ll try it once I’m a little more fit”, then it may never happen!
You do not need any experience, athletic background, or certain level of fitness to begin CrossFit. We, like most CrossFit gyms, offer a Fundamentals Course that teaches the movements in CrossFit but more importantly educates new CrossFitters on how to scale the workouts. Scaling can be done through decreasing the weight, reducing reps, or decreasing the difficulty of the movement.
Scaling is a way to keep people safe during workouts and allow for any person of ANY FITNESS LEVEL to participate. So, there’s no need to come to us already fit. We are here to GET you fit. Everyone starts somewhere!
2) “CrossFit is too hardcore.”
Let’s talk about why people think CrossFit is too “hardcore.” Is it too hardcore because of what is seen on TV or social media around the CrossFit Games? Is it too hardcore because the people you may know that do CrossFit seem intense, super athletic, or obsessed with everything CrossFit? Is it too hardcore because it’s in a warehouse without air conditioning in the Texas heat and that’s just insane?
It seems that this fear ultimately stems from fearing the unknown. To say CrossFit is too hardcore without even giving it a shot is not really fair. Once people give it a try, most realize that it’s not this crazy hardcore program and environment that they may have imagined it to be. It’s actually just a regular fitness program designed for all experience levels, all ages, all genders, and all sizes. If you come and you still think it’s too hardcore, that’s okay. You will be able to at least provide objective facts as to why it was not right for you (but I doubt you will feel that way!).
3) “I don’t want to get bulky.”
I could write a whole blog on this topic, but the short answer is: you won’t! Yes, you will get stronger and you will build muscle. But with doing an hour workout a day, 3-5 times per week, you will NOT get bulky. I think this fear comes from seeing the strong female CrossFit athletes on TV as the Games is gaining more publicity on TV and social media. I personally think those women are gorgeous and their strong physiques are a testament to their dedication and hard work. However, I also understand that many women do not necessarily want to gain that kind of muscle in their fitness journey.
You have to consider the individuals who compete in the CrossFit Games are professional athletes. It’s like comparing yourself to an NFL player. Saying, if “I play football four times per week for an hour each day, will I look like JJ Watt? Of course you won’t! In order to build that kind of muscle, you have to eat a certain way and make working out your job. So, the same goes for the CrossFit Games athletes. They work very hard to build that kind of muscle– eating very specifically and working out several hours every single day.
In sum, the “normal” CrossFitter will not get “buff” or “bulky” unless you are making an effort to do so. And who knows– once you start CrossFit, maybe this fear of getting bulky will go away with the decreasing emphasis on aesthetic results and an increasing emphasis on performance and overall health.
4) “My size is not conducive to that type of training.”
There is not an “ideal” size for CrossFit. As mentioned above, every movement we do has the ability to be scaled so anyone can participate AND be successful. Again, the Fundamentals Course is designed to introduce the movements you will see and educate on scaling options. For example: if someone does not feel comfortable doing box jumps, one substitution could be step ups. Instead of pull-ups we may recommend ring rows (hold the gymnastic rings, lean back, and do a rowing motion). Modified push-ups can be done by lowering your body with control to the ground and then worming your body back up to reach full arm extension. Those that are unable to run can hop on the rowing machine or bike instead. The scaling options are endless! So definitely don’t let your size be a reason for avoiding CrossFit.
5) “I don’t want to get injured.”
CrossFit is a form of physical activity, and, with any physical activity, there is potential for injuries. However, when done correctly, CrossFit is very safe and the rewards significantly outweigh the risk. Pretty much everything we do has a risk-reward tradeoff. Running, yoga, martial arts, social sport leagues– every workout routine you can think of has some sort of risk of injury.
We have to consider if a specific reward is important enough to take some small risks. Maybe we get a blister on our hand, a bruise on our shin, or incur muscle soreness– Would these risks be worth it for the result of enjoying your workouts and becoming the fittest version of yourself? That’s up to you to decide! Any workout routine that has no risks, has no rewards.
And now for some real fears/ concerns some of our members had prior to starting their CrossFit journey with us:
“I was scared of evvvvverything. I wasn’t fit, I wasn’t athletic, I’d never touched a bar, I was depressed and I didn’t want to have to talk to people. Now I love meeting Noobs and helping/encouraging them. And my favorite are the days I do most of the work with a barbell in my hands.” –Christy Meaux
Throwback picture of Christy (very excited about) reaching a PR (personal record) on strict press at 110 lbs.! This is back in the day when she was 1 year into her CrossFit journey, and now she’s 3.5+ years in and still hitting PR’s and kicking butt!
“My biggest apprehension was CrossFit being too hardcore for me since I wasn’t big into fitness.” -Rachel Fox
Rachel joined after her husband was a member for a while, despite her reservations. She has been a member for over three years and is absolutely killing it. She is now one of the top female athletes in our box! What’s even more amazing is that she had a baby 18 months ago and is fitter than she has ever been!
“I was afraid of quite a few things before I got started, all of which now seem ridiculous and silly. I think they are probably common fears. 1) Lifting heavy weights and hurting myself… 2) Not being able to do a ton of the rx CF movements 3) Tons of new people way more fit and buff than me, new place, new equipment, new lingo (snatch, clean and jerk, double unders, wods). I guess it can all pretty much be summed up as a fear of the unknown. Luckily I got over those fears and took the plunge! Now my favorite thing to do is lift heavy weights. ” -Lily Machuca
Lily was another who joined after her husband had been a member for a while. She overcame her fears and is now a regular, loving everything CrossFit! It’s been fun watching her fitness journey thus far!
“At first, I feared that I was unfit, weak, too slow and would just hurt myself if I did Crossfit. None of my friends were doing it so I was scared to start it. But now, upon learning fundamentals and gaining confidence, I am always challenging myself to finish the workout with all my best. Seeing other people do it makes me say to myself that I can also do it.” –Thess Barrios-Guiang
Above you see Thess getting Toes-to-Bar for the first time! Her smile sums up a lot here– she has put in lots of work and has fun as well! She even competed in her first competition this year! She is fearless and is constantly impressing us with her dedication and passion.
These four ladies are perfect examples of individuals who were scared of CrossFit, overcame that fear, and now love it. Join them and give CrossFit a try!