Dressed in a suit on a Friday evening, I’d stare at the mirror and a face I didn’t recognize would blankly gaze back at me. It was the image of someone I didn’t want to be: someone overweight and unhealthy; someone who didn’t have the tools to be motivated; someone who had physical goals, but didn’t know how to attain them. I wasn’t happy with myself, and I knew I wanted to change that.
I began attending classes at a typical gym, combined with intense personal-training sessions, several times a week. And while I saw results I liked, after a certain point I plateaued in my weight loss and felt my motivation beginning to wane. I knew I had to stay on track to maintain my physical changes, and so I searched for something else.
A friend mentioned CrossFit to me. I didn’t really understand what I was getting myself into at the time. Back then, it just seemed like another avenue to try, maybe another “fad” exercise that would pique my interest before dwindling. But it wasn’t; it was everything.
I was pretty shocked when I walked into the “box” for the first time (“box” is the slang term for the CrossFit gym—probably because it is quite similar to a plain box). With bare walls and minimal equipment, I wasn’t sure I was in the right place. But then I began my sessions to learn the unique moves, such as Box Jumps, Double Unders and Wall Balls, all components of our daily WOD (or Workout of the Day). And each day brought a new, interesting WOD that constantly changed the routine, focusing on different muscle groups. Sometimes a WOD is only a few minutes long, sometimes it’s a strength test, other times more of a muscle stretch. But the most fascinating component is the psychological one.
I have learned from my experience at CrossFit that the body is capable of doing anything the mind tells it to. If one has a mantra of “I can’t do that!,” it won’t get done. But at CrossFit, we learn to mentally push ourselves, to constantly say, “I can do this,” or “I’ll keep going,” even when our muscles scream and our bodies want to collapse. Even when I might think there is no way I can get my body into an upside down handstand position and do a pushup like that, I have learned that it’s all about the frame of mind. And I strive to become successful at that.
CrossFit advocates a mix of aerobic exercise, gymnastics (body weight exercises) and Olympic weight lifting. CrossFit describes its strength and conditioning program as “constantly varied, high intensity, functional movement,” and has been gaining popularity rapidly.
CrossFit is also appealing because of its competitive nature. The participants meet daily (or as many times per week as possible) in groups and receive one-on-one instruction in a team dynamic. The participants work closely together, coaching, coercing and cheering each other on, pushing each other to the limit. Scores are recorded on a blackboard, and individuals can track their progress against themselves and their teammates. And the teammates become your close friends.
Many CrossFitters adhere to a Paleo-diet, also known as “caveman eating.” This protein-heavy eating helps to shed extra pounds and build muscle, much as our cave-dwelling ancestors did before the invention of pasta and pizza. Proper eating is critical, as the moves require your body to be properly nourished to enhance performance.
Now, when I see myself in the mirror, I am pleased by my results, satisfied with my hard work and amazed at what I have been able to do. The challenging WOD’s I face on a daily basis give me an exciting boost to begin my day and instill within me a sense of optimism, energy and all-around good feeling. I hope to see all of you at the Box someday. You, too, will be amazed.
Jonathan Abenaim, is an avid CrossFitter. Follow his CrossFit blog at www. reallifeCrossFit.com
By Jonathan M. Abenaim