DianeV14

Advice for Crossfit beginner

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Any advice for someone who is very overweight who is just starting Crossfit? I am starting my second W30 and will also start Crossfit.  I have been somewhat sedentary and pretty overweight.  I'm determined to get healthy and change my diet and activity.  Any advice for a newbie to Crossfit?

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Tiger Balm. Buy a tub of it. That stuff is magical for the soreness you aren't used to feeling. I'm just getting back into running/working out after 2 shoulder surgeries in a year and physical therapy...so I'm applying liberally myself. :)

 

Good luck - and awesome job on starting a new healthy habit!

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I would suggest easing in to the workouts - if you're in a world of pain after the first session, you're unlikely to go back! Know your limits (not your mental "this is a bit hard, let's stop now" limits, your actual physical limits) and don't let anyone push you past the point of your own ability.

 

And take the time to master the lifts before you start pounding out 50 reps in a WOD.

 

And make sure it's fun for you!

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Your coaches should be setting you up with modified movements. For example, you proably can't do a pull-up but you can substitute with ring rows. Don't be discouraged by these modifications, they are the building blocks for gaining strength to perform more advanced movements. Be patient and allow yourself a learning curve. Do skip post w/o protein and lots of water. I am also a cf beginner. Started a few months ago and I still need modifications but, I can see my strength improving. Best of luck to you!

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I started crossfit a couple of years ago at 300 lbs, and I can tell you it's tough when you've been sedentary for a long time (20 years for me).  Start small.  Modify a LOT and don't feel bad about it at all.  Lift the bar when others are lifting weights, do fewer reps than the other kids, and ask your coaches for suggestions on what you should do.  Do what you need to do to not hurt yourself.  Most of the other athletes and coaches have never been really overweight and out of shape, and can't really relate to what you're going through. Much of crossfit is mental - you can do more than you think, but also listen to your body.  Your coaches will be experts on how you need to do lifts properly - use low weights until they say you're ok.

 

My gym had an intro "skills" class that's supposed to last a month - I was in it for 6 months before I graduated to the big kids class.  That transition kicked my butt almost as much as my 1st week in the skills class.  Even 2 years in, my form on some things is still pretty bad, but I can tell you that's it's worth sticking with it.  It's actually a great program, even for overweight, sedentary people (who are not ashamed to ease in).  I'm now doing things I never thought I'd do again, like handstands, jogging, lifting heavy stuff without hurting myself, and I can almost do a pullup.

 

Make your goals attainable.  Your goal should be to walk through the door a couple of times per week; everything else is gravy.  Even the simple stuff will probably make you sore for 4-6 days, where everyone else will be able to hit the gym again in a day or two.  The good news is that it will get easier, you'll get healthier, and it'll be a fun ride. Stuff comes slowly, but it's life changing.  Have fun!

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Hey there! I started CF in March. I was nervous before every single class for a while because I really had no clue what I was doing (guilty of chronic cardio here as a runner). CF can be like learning a new language at times. It was tough to really enjoy it with all of the nerves...

 

But, as I got to know the other members and the coaches, this went away. We have tons of fun - bootcamps, partner workouts that you complete as a team, dodgeball on occasion :)

 

Now I do feel more comfortable going to classes and accept that it's going to take some time before I can master some of these moves. Back when I started, I thought I'd be able to do pullups by now, but still banging out those ring rows. I'll get there, and you will too!

 

I think diet is definitely important with CF. I had some troubles in the beginning with soreness and even injury (tendonitis perhaps?) With paying more attention to what I eat, including fish oil supplementation - plus knowing a little bit more about correct form - I don't experience this anymore.

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Make sure the trainers scale the workouts to your fitness level. They should be challenging, but not so much so that you risk injury. Listen to your body. Crossfit is very competitive and you want to push yourself, but if you think something is too much for you, don't do it, or have it scaled down. A good trainer will be able to tailor the workout to your fitness level. Afterwards: FOAM ROLLING. It is like a miracle for DOMS. You will still be a bit sore, but not even half as sore as if you hadn't done it. The crossfit box should have foam rollers, you just put one on the floor and roll your body over the top of it in places where you think you'll be sore, focusing on any really painful spots. Just do that for about 10-15 minutes after your workout. It will really help with the soreness the next day. I've also found that a rolling pin at home works pretty well too.

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I'm a little over a year into CF and really don't ever RX the workouts - I'm not that strong for the Olympic lifts.  I also wholly believe in form first - so I'm always the girl doing less weight but trying to hit the movement correctly.  My coaches are always there to help me work smarter.  I still can't do a pull up or a hand stand...but I keep going back and have found the box environment to be one of encouragement and happy to "have you as you are."  I am supposed to only compete with myself - there are plenty of athletes that take it way more seriously, but generally I find myself surrounded by like-minded/supportive people.

 

Enjoy the atmosphere and use the encouragement to build you up.  I agree with many of the tips above - including tiger balm, foam roller, and lacross ball (gets those knots out!)

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I started Crossfit in April.  I am very overweight and have been a couch potato for years.  I've lost about 40 pounds since I started.  In the very beginning I wasn't even able to run the 400m warm up.  I ran in small increments and walked when I had to...just don't stop moving.  I'm got modified pull ups (usually ring pulls or even jumping pull ups), I couldn't do sit ups without the help of a band, but I used it when I needed to and now I can do sit ups.  I can't do a hundred push ups or burpees, but I do what I can.  The good trainers understand and they want you to succeed.  They will help you succeed!  I've seen the changes in me that I never could have done alone.  I've gotten stronger, I can finally run some (I still hate mile Mondays, but I've gotten my time down to under 14 minutes and for me...that's a huge improvement). You will be sore all the time.  A can't recommend epsom salt baths enough.  I've also found that yoga really helps with flexibility in Xfit.  Just don't stop!  There will be days when you think you couldn't possibly do another squat or lift a kettle bell, but you can!  You can do it.  If I can do it...so can you.  Just don't give up!!!!  

 

 

P.S. I highly recommend a good massage at least once a month!

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Congrats ladies!! As a fellow CrossFitter I am so stoked to hear that your doing it =) definitely agree with all the prior comments and just wanted to add that for me it has been more of a mental journey during the WODs - mind over matter. I still remember what it felt like to try and fail my first box jump, but man when I set up for that second jump you can bet I was gonna make it up there.

Wish you all the best :)

Anne

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I'm sort of interested in cross fit, but haven't made up my mind about it.  I've been going to a traditional gym for ~5 years now (since I moved to my current home) and had  a personal trainer most of that time, but that's unsustainable (cost-wise) and she's about to go on maternity leave, so the signs seem to point to change.

 

How competitive is it?  I have a latent competitive streak, which I don't _really_ want to get blown up into something, because I don't like myself much when it's telling me to push too hard.  Googling shows some pretty horrific stories of pushing way too hard and kidney damage, and while I don't think that would be me, I don't want to get into an environment that's "take no prisoners" and "push until you drop."

 

I'd guess things vary from location to location, but I'm hoping there's enough opinions here that I can see what I'm most likely to run into locally when I start looking.

 

Thanks!

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I don't find that it's competitive.  For me it's a competition with myself.  To be better than I was in the last WOD, to lift a little heavier (or lighter if I feel like it).  A good box and good trainers don't want you to get hurt.  Crossfit it about cheering the loudest for the person that finishes last.  It's a good environment.  It's not about who does what better than who.  If you find a gym at encourages competition instead of a good healthy workout, you're at the wrong box!  It's your job to push yourself out of your comfort zone. If a trainer sees you might be doing something a little too easy...they will probably suggest (encourage) you to lift heavier, but they wouldn't force you to.  I've heard of the crazy injuries and such, but a good box, a box that cares would never let you injure yourself.  The trainers I work with are constantly watching us during the WOD, and will come help if they see an improper technique.  My places will give you a free trial week.  You should stop in and try it out and just see if you'd like it.  It took me a couple of workouts to fall in love with it, and my physical condition it's never been easy and Crossfit isn't easy, but totally worth it!

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My novice opinion is that injuries happen when people don't listen - to their coach, to their body, to something.  CF Trainers meet you where you are and help you find your best self.  Yes, they'll push you, but they'll push you when you need pushing and won't push yourself.  They'll help you modify when you need to, how to scale to work up to your best form, all of that.  I consider it small group personal training.  It's pricey, but when I'm getting individual attention to my form and knowing I'm working it right, then it's just like paying for 1:1 PT, but with the benefit of a group of athletes to motivate me and workout with. 

 

It's as competitive as you make it - but at my box, the coaches don't facilitate an atmosphere of "win/lose" in our WODs.  We work hard and compete with ourselves or our goals, but we're not pitted against each other in some sort of competition on a daily basis.  It is way collegial and full of support - and you're there cheering and clapping for the last man/woman pushing through to the end.  It's empowering.

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I'm sorry to say that I'm having a hard time with Crossfit. 

I started Crossfit as a long time couch potato and agree with what Dimear says about most people there not knowing what it feels like to be out of shape. 

I find it challenging and shaming to be told by the trainer that they were going to "send up a flare" for me because I ran so much more slowly than everyone else. 

The baseline of fitness in the beginner class is way higher than I would even aspire to. 

If I could run that far and that fast, I wouldn't need to come to Crossfit!

Crossfit as I've experienced it so far, is for fit people, and for the absolute beginner, is very difficult emotionally and physically. 

If you are very overweight, you'll need a very thick skin to succeed. 

I am not that overweight but am about 40 lbs heavier than anyone I've seen in the room there. 

If you love exercise and fitness, then you'll probably think Crossfit is the greatest thing ever. Of course you will. 

Just my honest thoughts. 

I signed up for 4 months and will complete that commitment and see how I feel. 

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We have a saying that "fits a-Cross" the boards....but I can't repeat it here.  It's not Fit and that's a river I'm not willing to Cross.    "Should I send up a flare"     Really?

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Deb, I love fitness, but I did not love Crossfit when I did the onramp program at my local box. I enjoyed the workouts themselves but felt a real sense of elitism, among both some of the coaches and some current members. The coaches were more interested in teaching skills to the younger, very fit men than to any of us women. But this is obviously one gym and just my personal experience.

I also didn't enjoy the "racing" aspect of it and definitely found I was compromising my own form to keep up with some of the others or to get a bigger number on the board. Again, my own issue.

I've since joined a gym that offers group classes featuring CF-style workouts. But instead of working individually to complete the WOD in record speed, we work out as a group, completing the same circuits of burpees or Oly lifts or rowing in the same time period, with each person customizing their reps/speed/weight as needed. I'm much happier.

There's something out there for everyone - you just need to keep trying different things. :)

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Thanks Kay Kay. 

I agree. 

I believed the hype that all comers would feel ok. I know that some of it is my own insecurity being projected. But I would never ever have signed up to join a group of people of very advanced fitness competing with each other which is what this appears to be. 

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Now that Crossfit is somewhat ubiquitous, I think it is even more important to make sure the coaches know what they're doing.  Coaches need very little training to become crossfit certified and I think that has become a problem.  My CF box was very supportive and cheered everyone on.  I liked that there was all different body shapes and levels of fitness.  I am quite strong and enjoyed lifting heavy but I'm a weak runner.  You really see what your weaknesses are but if you log your workouts, it's very cool to see how much you achieve.  I couldn't do pullups, so I used multiple bands to help pull me up and little by little, I was using fewer bands and they weren't as thick.  There are so many modifications and even though I was told that, I didn't really get it until I started doing it.  Also, you shouldn't even consider a CF box that doesn't have a beginners class or on-ramping.  Go talk with someone and see how they treat you.  I went in initially since I have arthritis in my right knee and was told by a Dr. to not do squats or lunges.  The manager at my CF told me things that he had been told not to do b/c of his issues, it convinced me to give it a shot and seriously, over time, my knee felt better.  

 

I have worked out for many years and I will say, I have never felt adrenaline like I did when doing CF.  Unfortunately, it can also cause injury and for various reasons, it is more prevalent in CF, especially if you are not used to working out.  I suffered a serious back injury that took 2 years to recover from.  I miss CF a lot but I won't risk going back since it is impossible for me to hold back on weight or speed or whatever the "competition" is that day.  It may only be a competition with myself but the adrenaline and ego wants me to push for more.  Taking it slow is the way to go and as I said, really making sure the box you go to has good trainers and support.  I have been several boxes around the world and they definitely run the gamut of knowing what they are doing or just "box" jumping on the CF bandwagon.

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I went to the beginner class and it was extremely advanced. 

I can't even imagine what the other classes are like. 

I felt totally lost. The instructor gave lip service to demonstrating the exercises but for the most part we were left to our own devices. 

I had no idea how to put weights on the bar or how much weight to use. 

 

I have not seen ANY body type that is not slim and fit (other than mine). 

 

For my own physical safety I think I will be looking for another form of movement. 

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Thanks Kay Kay. 

I agree. 

I believed the hype that all comers would feel ok. I know that some of it is my own insecurity being projected. But I would never ever have signed up to join a group of people of very advanced fitness competing with each other which is what this appears to be. 

Sometimes we have to stay in our own lane.   I used to join rec clubs,  classes and it was throwing my money down the toity.   I had to pay for an entire year in advance.   Hazardous weather, black ice and blizzards would prevent me from going in Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb, March... yadda yadda yadda.   

 

I had to find something I could do from my front doorstep that fits my lifestyle.   I'm happier, no one has sent out a flare yet...knock on wood.  TYG

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Find another Box Deb but don't give up if you like the movements.  I crossfit on a regular basis and still ask my coaches a lot of questions.  I can put 200 lbs on a bar but I need help in knowing how much to start with sometimes, math isn't my strong suit!  But we have people of all fitness levels in my gym.  One guy does air squats instead of weighted squats, another woman jumps on a plate instead of box jumps.  We cheer everyone on and everyone is welcome.  

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