My First Day at CrossFit

I’ve got a lot of work to do on my own fitness to make myself the best rider I can be. My cardiovascular endurance is basically zero, and my strength ain’t all that, either. I’ve read and heard a lot about CrossFit and, with the motivation of getting in shape to ride, I finally went to a Foundations (beginner) session on Thursday.

I have serious social anxiety (like, with a diagnosis and panic attacks and all), and that’s part of why it took me so long to start riding. It kicked into full gear when I walked into the CrossFit box and saw about 14 other people who were also there for Foundations. And I started crying when they said we’d jog 400m as… a warm-up. I can’t run. I made it about 80m before I had to start walking. I was the last one back by a long shot — the class had already moved on to the next exercise. It just kind of got worse from there.

We did some work with PVC pipes to learn the motions for cleans. I can’t say I got a very good grasp on it, but it gave me time to calm down as I stood at the back. After that, we moved on to push ups. Since the gym was so small, and there were so many of us, we had to go four people at a time, and that meant people were watching. I can barely do a modified pushup; I can’t get close enough to the ground. My face, at this point, was probably beet red from embarrassment. Then we did a hands up (I think) push up, which was better, because I just laid my chest on the ground, hands up, back down, and picked myself up. The next thing was handstand push ups, which I didn’t even pretend I was going to try. The instructor had those who couldn’t kick up into a handstand try walking their feet up the wall instead, but I was close to tears and declined to try.

After that were burpees, which I’ve sort of done and which will kick your ass. I got those just fine, although sloppily and lacking in the push up area. Next, box jumps: The box in question was a foot high, I believe. It looked easy enough, and we went one at a time. I was last. I didn’t want to be last, but people cut in front of me. I walked to the box and realized this wasn’t going to be as easy as I’d hoped. I tried multiple times, starting with stepping up one foot at a time, and ultimately managed one jump onto the box. There was plenty of arm-flailing and no opening of my hip angle on landing. Oh well. So now I’m crying again, because I see two people whispering to each other.

Next the instructor showed us the various exercises on the pull up bars. I again declined to participate, because I was so, so embarrassed. It was at this point that another lady in the class took me to the restroom for some privacy and helped me with some encouragement. I was still pretty shaken, but I didn’t run out the door the way I wanted to.

Finally, we did an actual Tabata workout, although with only 4 intervals of work for each exercise instead of the prescribed 8. A Tabata means you do 20 seconds of work, 10 seconds of rest, repeated 8 (in our case, 4) times for a given set of exercises. We did push ups, sit ups, and burpees. Your Tabata score is apparently the least number of reps you complete for any given exercise in an interval. I liked this part, because nobody had the opportunity to pay too much attention to my total lack of fitness. It hurt, but I did it. I think (I lost track) that I got 4 pushups for my lowest, 8 situps, and a whopping 2 burpees.

I went to my car afterwards, pounded a bottle of water, and cried for a while. It was just so overwhelming to have people watching me fail. I knew I would fail, but I thought there’d be others at my same level. There weren’t. The instructor said that was an abnormally large class and that she still cries at CrossFit sometimes, and it’s OK.

Initially, when I left, I had planned to go back on Saturday. But when Saturday rolled around, I was still really sore and very disinclined to go embarrass myself further. I still want to do CrossFit, but I think I need to be in slightly better shape to start. I know they say they scale the workouts, but with 15 people, one instructor, and next to no space, that really wasn’t happening. I didn’t get much feedback on my form, either. So I didn’t go.

I plan to do some of these moves at home, and am also starting the C25K program. I’m not sure right now whether I’ll try CrossFit again next week or whether I’ll wait until I feel like I can handle it without bursting into tears. I don’t want to be a quitter, but I don’t want to make myself nuts, either.

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2 thoughts on “My First Day at CrossFit

  1. It sounds like you were let down by the trainers, big time. Search for a different CrossFit affiliate in your area. The hardest part about doing CrossFit is getting your head in the game. Anything can be scaled. And don’t be embarrassed to scale something. I used to be embarrassed to workout with a couple of friends because they were so further along in their fitness than I was. Once I finally got over it, there wasn’t a problem, and their support helped immensely.

    As far as scaling goes:
    If you can’t do a pull up, do ring rows. Or tie a resistance band to the pull up bar.
    Start working on push ups against a wall, and as you get better, move your hands closer to the floor.
    Work on step ups before getting into your box jumps, but my suggestion would be to use something higher than a 12 inch box to do your step ups if you can. Once you feel like you can do box jumps, start back at the 12 in box. Practicing air squats might help with the box jumps also.
    Handstand pushups are tough, and I can’t explain scaling them very well, but if you go to http://www.crossfit.com, go to the exercises page and search for handstand push ups, you will find a video on scaling. It took me a few months before I could get into position for a handstand push up, and even then I couldn’t start in the up position, which made it pretty difficult.

    I have been doing CrossFit for almost a year, and I’m still scaling my muscle ups. I can’t seem to do them, so when I practice them it has to be with my feet on the ground for support.

    CrossFit is an amazing way of practicing fitness, and getting into a healthier life. Don’t give up on it, keep pushing yourself. And if you find a box that you like, you’ll end up making friends with the other people that go there, and your anxiety won’t be as bad.

    • Thanks for the comment, jcarha! The more I think about it, the more inclined I am to try a different CrossFit affiliate. I have a friend who attends one that’s on the other side of town from me, but I’m going to contact her and see how her onboarding was. I ride in the same area of town where it’s located, so it might work out.

      Another affiliate I found does one-on-one training for four sessions as a foundation class, at a totally reasonable price. They’re also on the wrong end of town, but I’m going to contact them. I really feel like I could use the help with technique.

      Thanks for the encouragement; I definitely plan to pursue CrossFit still, just in a different place, I think. Hopefully I’ll be posting about it again soon!

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