By Fernando Alcantara/Garden Grove Journal
August marks my one-year anniversary in the sport of CrossFit. As I reflect on the past year, I think about all I’ve done and accomplished, where I’ve been and what other goals I intend to achieve. I also think about the life changes I’ve made all because of CrossFit.
I no longer wear shoes with support and opt for shoes that offer a barefoot-like experience. Gone are the days of wearing weightlifting gloves and I find myself proud of the bloody palms and calluses that are now a usual occurrence with certain workouts.
A year ago I was 20 pounds heavier, my body fat percentage was 10 percent higher and I had zero of the athletic abilities that I have today.
In one year, I have transformed my body by changing my diet and have changed my mind about fitness in general. I’d even argue that my soul has changed for the better; all this I owe to CrossFit.
The question is then asked: what is CrossFit?
CrossFit is a brand of fitness methodology that incorporates exercises from gymnastics, power lifting, olympic lifting, jumping and climbing ropes, running, sprinting and calisthenics.
CrossFit workouts are intense and constantly varied while utilizing minimal equipment and incorporating a host of different exercises while performing them in the shortest amount of time possible.
Those exercises can range from pushups to pull-ups to overhead squats to dead lifts, sometimes with sprints added in between those exercises.
The workouts can be as long as 10 to 20 minutes or last as long as one hour.
CrossFit gyms, known as affiliates or boxes, are all independently owned and operated. Affiliates have the option of making up their own workouts for their members or following the workouts on CrossFit.com.
CrossFit.com will post a daily workout, known as the workout of the day, or W.O.D. or “wods” as they are called. All workouts that come from CrossFit.com are considered “prescribed” or “Rx.” If a person cannot complete a workout as prescribed, they are encouraged to “scale” down either the weights used, or the number of repetitions required.
The difference between the CrossFit methodology when compared to typical bodybuilding routines is the fact that there is no routine. Whereas a typical bodybuilder may perform the same routines week in and week out, a CrossFitter may not do the same workout again for another six months.
Or, they may perform the exact same workout the very next day. CrossFitters train for the unknown by constantly varying their workouts.
Because of this idea of training for the unknown, several military outlets and law enforcement agencies have adopted CrossFit. Some military personnel join CrossFit because it resembles the physical training they were accustomed to in boot camp.
“It prepares you for every single situation that you can encounter in combat,” said Landon Prairie, 26, a former Marine and CrossFitter from Newport Beach. “It also shows you how far past your limits you can push yourself in life or death situations.”
For Nick Parra, 36, an active-duty Air Force reservist, it’s the “brute strength and capacity to do more work,” that he has acquired that makes him love CrossFit so much. “My conditioning and strength has improved in a lot of different ways.”
CrossFit, which was founded by Greg Glassman, a former gymnast, stresses competence in 10 general physical skills: Cardiovascular and respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, agility, and accuracy.
One is considered fit when competency in these 10 skills are acquired.
CrossFit’s argument is that their method is more geared towards general physical preparedness. CrossFit promotes functional fitness and not just aesthetically pleasing muscles.
In the past year, thanks to CrossFit’s programming, I have seen tremendous results ranging from weight loss to strength gain. This is the basis for my love of CrossFit, and I am certainly not alone.
Kimberly Beach, 24, from Chicago, also in her first year of CrossFit, is so inspired and consumed by CrossFit that she recently became a level one certified trainer to help teach others the 10 standards of fitness.
“I fell in love with CrossFit and think it’s the best thing that ever happened to me,” Beach said. “It not only works for me, but everyone I see that does it gets amazing results from it. It definitely helps them to lead more fulfilling lives.”
For anyone interested in joining a CrossFit gym, Wendy Hormann, 31, a level one certified trainer from Stanton, recommends trying out several different gyms before joining.
“It has to match your personality because they’re all different,” Hormann said. “If you’re looking to compete or if you want one that’s community-based; these are things you need to look for.”
This past weekend also marked the fifth annual CrossFit Games that was held at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California.
The CrossFit Games, which started in 2007 when about 70 competitors and only 150 fans showed up, has evolved to what it is today: A three-phase fitness competition sponsored by Reebok with a one million dollar total purse for the winners with several thousands of fans.
In 2007, the winners at the time received $500. This year, the winning man and woman each received $250,000.
The purpose of the CrossFit Games is to crown the fittest man, woman and affiliate on Earth, through a three day, multi-event competition. Games contestants this year endured a workout that included a 200-meter swim and 1500-meter run on the beach in Santa Monica. The swim and run were followed by 50 chest-to-bar pull-ups, 100 pushups, 200 air-squats and another 1500-meter run in the sand.
And that was just the first event.
After three days of 10 grueling workouts, Rich Froning, Jr., 24, of Tennessee and Annie Thorisdottir, 21, from Iceland, were crowned the fittest man and woman on Earth. Both second-place finishers in last years CrossFit Games.
CrossFit New England won the Affiliate Cup for fittest team on Earth.
During Froning’s and Thorisdottir’s awards speeches this weekend, they both thanked the community for our support. The CrossFit community is the true benefit of this sport and fitness movement.
When someone in our community makes progress with their goals and finds success, we, as a community, revel in their success with them. When they fail, we understand that individual’s pain.
At the CrossFit Games this weekend, every spectator at the Home Depot Center cheered on their favorite athlete, but, after that person won their race, the crowd shared that same enthusiasm for the next competitor, cheering them on to finish.
It is this passion for the sport and for fitness that makes CrossFit so amazing to be a part of. It is why CrossFitters and military personnel like Prairie and Parra continue to go and convince their friends to join.
This same passion is why CrossFit coaches like Beach and Hormann say they “love CrossFit,” and it is because of the community of great, positive people that I’ve met in the past year that has made me so successful in this sport.