Kelly the Culinarian: 7 lessons I learned during CrossFit Foundations

Sunday, October 14, 2012

7 lessons I learned during CrossFit Foundations

I finished the CrossFit Foundations program last week at CrossFit Rise in Schaumburg.  I started working with the awesome owners there last month managing their Facebook page. There's a huge buzz about CrossFit lately, along with other "extreme" workout regimes, including P90X and Insanity. It helps that ESPN broadcasts the CrossFit Games, which is what I assume watching superheros is like.

I became interested in CrossFit this summer as I racked up miles during marathon training. I read an article about CrossFit Endurance, which is an offshoot of the traditional program that emphasizes building a better, stronger athlete. Instead of recovery runs or junk miles, you focus on quality workouts and runs.

It sounds attractive, but I needed to get through Foundations first. You spend six 1-hour sessions breaking down the movements and terminology during the course of two weeks to get more familiar with what a CrossFit Workout of the Day (WOD) will look like and how to accomplish it.  I learned a ton in these classes, because there were three of us and the owner going through each session. It was like small-group personal training. The highlights:

1. I've been doing squats wrong for ... forever. I was standing too wide, not going down far enough and not squeezing my knees in on the trip back up, so I never engaged my glutes. Here's what it should look like:

And ditto for the rowing machine.  I've lacked proper form forever, which is probably why many of these moves left me with a sore back.
2. A workout doesn't have to take forever to be effective. When I was doing Insanity, I spent at least an hour a day doing a super hard, repetitive workout. While you can expect to spend an hour at a CrossFit gym (called the box) per session, the actual WOD may only take three to 15 minutes. The remainder is used for warming up, stretching and skill development.

3. I cannot complete a pushup with proper form. I thought I could bang out 20 pushups in a single session. Turns out, your chest is supposed to make it all the way to the ground ... woops. And a pullup? Ha, you're funny.
4. The workouts are tough, but achievable. Every workout can be scaled.  One workout called for pushups and weighted squats. While I was squatting the same weight as the muscled guys in my class, I had to modify the pushup. Same with the box jump and the burpee. I still got my ass kicked, just not as prescribed.

5. My posture is pretty lousy. Every lift in the workouts requires you to start with your "shoulder back and chest proud." I needed to hear this cue at least a dozen times a session because my body has no desire to stand up straight.

6. I can jump rope like it's my job. There was one workout that ended with skipping rope and I scored major points that way. I'm sure it has something to do with the foot turnover required for running.
I look just like this doing it, too
7.  CrossFit is the only sport in which the person who finishes last is cheered for the most. Despite how intimidating the workouts and the gym seems, everyone is very friendly and wants you to succeed.


Michelle @ said...

I've never tried crossfit, but looks amazing!!! Thanks for the tips!

Erin said...

Thanks for the reminder about the squats! And, yes, chest to floor push-ups. The bane of my existence. How does your coach let you modify them?

Unknown said...

Oh mah gawd I've been doing squats completely wrong!!!! And that posture chart is great, I've never seen anything like it! I have a minor case of scoliosis so I have horrible posture. My sister even gave me the nickname "question mark " (except she says it to me in Russian) :)


KellytheCulinarian said...

I have scoliosis too! I wonder if that's why my posture is so sucky ...

Kim said...

This sounds like a great intro before starting the WODs! When do you start that?

I love one-on-one interaction with a trainer, correcting these sorts of things. I am always doing something a bit off!

That is awesome that you can jump rope like a boss!