Do as Sebastian Avindell: try crossfit, fall in love and change your life. But remember - we are all children in the beginning!
So. There you are, in your new Reebok Nanos and the latest functional clothes (from Northern Spirit). Perhaps you have a past in weightlifting, done your fair share of distance running? Somewhat experienced - you know training. And now, you’ve decided to take on crossfit.
The result of an age crisis? Or maybe you’ve reached elite level in some other sport, and want to discover how far you can reach doing crossfit. Age crisis or not, I applaud your decision and dedication! Having said that, I would like to give you some advice along the way. First and foremost, you will soon realize how extremely unfit you are. In every aspect. It will be like learning to walk and talk all over again. None of us remember the hardships and frustration that came with it when we as toddlers were trying to learn how to crawl or how to eat properly. Those of us who have become parents know just how angry and frustrated the children can get at these occasions. Learning how to do crossfit is very much like that.
Now you’re thinking – "that’s not me! I’ve been training my whole life". That’s probably true, but when did you last do a handstand? Or used a skipping rope? Believe me, when you’ve failed at double unders for the thousandth time and your back starts looking like it´s undergone a medieval-style torture session - all flogged. You will scream with frustration, just like you did when you failed walking or crawling as a child.
You will inevitably feel like a failure. But soon enough you will also realize that it's the journey and not the destination that makes it all worthwhile. You will eventually learn to love that skipping rope (I promise!). But you will also realize how weak you are. Hate to break the news. I started doing crossfit with the notion that I was fairly strong. Maybe I was, in the conventional gym-perspective. I could manage some heavy curls, as well as bench-press. But when it came to more functional, high-repetitive strength, without the Instagram- and flex pauses… let’s just say that I soon realized that I was no crossfit-Hulk. Maybe I could pass as a crossfit-Robin, Batman’s sidekick, which was quite far from what I wished for. I mean, when given a choice, who would choose Robin before Batman? Given that starting point, you have no choice but to start the grinding. Get on with it. You will grow stronger, rep by rep.
Let me now just briefly comment on the notion of BFL (basic fitness level), something middle-aged men brag about as a thing that supposedly has sticked with them since their football-playing years in school. It. Does. Not. Exist. Period. And it has probably never ever existed. Do not fool yourself into believing that you are in good shape, because it will be a painful experience discovering that you are not. The shape you once had, has disappeared along with the football training, instead you’re now standing on the stands buying hot dogs, and the fitness level you once were so proud of, is now long gone.
Coordination. Some of us are born with it, while others (like myself) continue to fight the arduous struggle against gravity. This is when doing crossfit becomes hellish. You have accepted the trauma of being crossfit-Robin, you have succeeded in taming the skipping rope and you have started feeling quite fit. Then it is all taken to the next level – where you are supposed to combine it all together. Tighten up there! Push here! Well, I think you get it. Countless are the number of times I have planned to do one thing but my body just says: I shouldn’t think so!!!
To leave out stretching after gym training for years and years will inevitably lead to a stiffness close to rigor mortis. I think we have all seen men who have had an unbalanced training routine, focusing too much on chest training and military presses, and therefore look like they carry an invisible fridge. Irrespective if that is you or not, your mobility level will be put to the test. You will feel tense in places you didn’t know you could feel tension. Immobile like Frankenstein’s monster and curse the fact that your parents never sent you to gymnastics camp in Russia from the age of three.
But (you’re concluding while scratching your head with your stiff arms) this doesn’t sound like fun at all! Quite the contrary, actually. You don’t like neither the Hulk nor Batman (nor Robin, for that matter). Besides, you are already in good shape. Why would you like to try something that seem so difficult and arduous? Seems a bit mental actually. Weird! Crazy! But that’s the beauty of it. All that hardship! As I mentioned before – imagine how proud that baby must have been the time when it managed to take those first careful steps. It is the same thing with all of the difficult things mentioned above. The day you do your first handstand pushup (HSPU), that evening you achieve your first unbroken set of double unders (with your struggling, screaming friends right next to you). Those moments will be magic!
You’re about to enter the world of crossfit. It’s hard but sooner or later you will learn to master what at first seems impossible. Even if you’re one of those stiff fridge-carriers. You will make it – no matter who you are. I promise you that!
Disclaimer: The Barbell Chronicles and its content is not affiliated with CrossFit, Inc in any way nor is it endorsed by CrossFit, Inc or any of its subsidiaries. CrossFit is a registered trademark of CrossFit, Inc.