3 Years of CrossFit and This Is What I Have Learned
by Sara Carr
There has been a lot going on with blog comments and I have been wanting to throw in my two cents a lot but wanted to do it in a constructive way. So here goes.
Three years ago I walked into CFNYC. I was already pretty strong and had a gymnastics background but I wasn’t familiar with the CrossFit movements or standards and I had never experienced anything as intense as any given WOD provides. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about how I became a good and competent CrossFitter and the following is my conclusion.
I did every single mainsite WOD for an entire year. As rx’d. Three days on, one day off. Some of them I did in class, some of them I did at the other gym I was working at. Some of them I crushed and some were a complete shitshow. I remember doing “Elizabeth” (with full squat cleans) one night. Hari counted for me. The instructor ran two heats and I was in the first. I did not call time until after everyone in the second heat was already done. I don’t advocate this and you all know I am all about scaling. I actually scale more WODs now than I ever did in my first year. However, I learned my limitations, how to pace myself, how to be efficient, what was too heavy, and what was too light. I still refer back to those numbers and times.
Over the course of that first year I took class with every single instructor and I can still tell you who taught me which movements. There were some coaches I preferred but I picked up different cues and ideas from all of them. When I started working the front desk (yes, I used to be the desk staff) I would spend four hours every night listening to Court, Mike K, Justin, and Allison teach different movements and I still remember and use their cues.
I worked out with people who were better than me and knew more than me. I owe a lot to Craig Chaikin, Brett Tom, Kevin Willims (Torch) and Zach Singer. They made me put weight on the bar, gave me more shit than I give all of you, and made me do stupid cashouts with them at every class. The one and only time I have ever deadlifted 265lbs was with Craig and it is because he would not let me leave the gym until I picked the bar up. We were there until after 10pm.
I started competing immediately. Competition gives you motivation to train and inspires you to work harder. All of you should do it. No excuses–there are tons of local competitions with scaling options for anyone.
I did not read a million articles about how to do CrossFit or how to be an athlete. Instead, I watched a lot of videos of the Olympic lifts, slow lifts, and gymnastics movements. I then practiced them all on my own without anyone telling me what to do. The only private training I have ever had is with Brian D. on the oly lifts (who I highly recommend).
I did switch to OPT competition programming for a period of time. It worked. I got strong and fast, became adjusted to a high volume of work, and learned to push myself to my limit. However, I had 3 hours a day to work out and I was training for the Games. If I were to train for the Games again I would consider going back to his programming…it is not for many people. In fact, I can name maybe 5 people at the box who I think would benefit from it.
I never ate paleo except for one month when I did the Box’s challenge. I don’t take fish oil. I also don’t drink more than once a month and I get 8 hours of sleep almost every night.
The point I’m trying to make is this. You will not get better at CrossFit by doing anything but CrossFit. Your program will not make you a better CrossFitter. What you put into it will. 95% of the people at the box should do nothing but take classes and work on the things they are bad at (preferably pull-ups and getting stronger). Starting Strength will not make you a better CrossFitter. It will make you fat and unconditioned. Wendler is not necessary if you are showing up and actually putting effort into the lifting portion of the WOD class. Eating paleo is great if it works for you but it will not make you lift more weight unless you put weight on the bar. It will not make you look better unless you actually train. CrossFit Football is great for people who are already efficient at the movements, need to get stronger, and have been taking classes for a long period of time. Same goes for Invictus. However, keep in mind you are missing out on the community aspect. Those of you who do alternate programming should take an actual class every once in a while. Newer members need you to push them and you can benefit from helping coach them. And for pete’s sake, stop being so negative all of the time. This is fitness, it’s supposed to be fun.
(Photos courtesy of Kayam R.)