December 18, 2014

6 Months Later - CrossFit SEO

It's been about 6 months since I began working out at CrossFit SEO. If you've been following the blog since our move to Athens, you may remember how concerned I was about finding a new gym-home. See, I have been truly fortunate to find stellar gyms in Madison, Fargo, and Toledo that I was certain that my luck had run dry.

Well, I was most certainly wrong. And, I found an amazing gym in an unexpected place - a CrossFit box. In the past, I had tried CrossFit for a short time (under 4 months) but just didn't enjoy the workouts. What I didn't know at the time was that my personality and needs didn't jive well with that box. It was not necessarily CrossFit. So, here is what I have learned over the last few months.

1. Finding a certified/ affiliated CrossFit box is key! When researching CrossFit affiliated boxes visit the national CrossFit website to find a box in your area. After you've done that, there's still some more work to do.

Many boxes provide a free one-day trial or punch card. I recommend trying this option before signing up for a full membership. Also remember that within one box, there are usually multiple coaches with different styles. Try several coaches and times in the day, if you can, to learn their different styles and how that compares with your personality. It's also good to try different times in the day to see when your body is most adept for the various CrossFit workouts.

Also, each class itself, like the individuals that attend that class time, have a culture of their own. I am a bit of a floater as I frequent classes at 5am, 6am, 7am, and even 5pm. Ha, I may be known as the nomad because of this, but all of the members are welcoming in each class.

The 5am class, well they are fierce and a little intimidating (smile)... They're really not, but they put up big numbers consistently and universally. But let's face it, these people enjoy working out at 5am! As a newbie I was completely intimidated to try this class. I actually had someone approach me about joining SEO. My first response - don't start out with the 5am class. Now this was a few months ago, before I had even tried out the class so I shouldn't have given such a damning review lol.

Just starting out? The 7am class is perfect. Jolene lovingly calls us the "Turtles." Don't let that name fool you because we're still putting in WORK at 7am, but we sometimes mosey along from one thing to the next. We tend to be a little opinionated and chatty as well!

My staple class is the 6am group. Good mix of professionals and a few undergrad/graduate students sprinkled in. All very hard working individuals that are very supportive of each others' gains.

Now when I want to feel youthful I attend the 5pm class although professionals are still in the midst. I enjoy this group, but not the post workday time. I end up dreading the entire work day when I don't get my morning workouts but always glad when I see the "kids" at 5pm.

2. It's still important to know that each box has its own culture just as any establishment. I'll be honest, Jolene is bad ass. She's a former competitive gymnast and professional CrossFit athlete - like the ones you see on tv. She's currently like 8 months pregnant and still killing everyone in their WODs, especially her husband Brandon, which I love haha. But, she is so down to earth and has built a gym that welcomes all. Just like a traditional gym or fitness center - each gym has its own feel and culture. By culture I just mean the aura when you are there. I'm not doing a thorough job explaining, but CrossFit SEO is just a place you want to return.

3. Balanced workouts. Jolene does a phenomenal job at balancing the daily workouts, or WODs. Some days we do the traditional CrossFit workouts such as "The Girls," olympic-style lifts and the WODs named after fallen soldiers. However, more often than not she customizes our workouts so we receive a balanced weekly workout.

Most weeks I attend classes 4-5 times, and then attend Saturday's open gym to work on foundational skills independently. I once asked Jolene if there were certain leg days or cardio-intense days and she simply said no! My organized self is actually ok with this because even if I take a day off, I still get balanced workouts throughout the whole week. And then when I review the whole month of WODs I can really see the varied workouts completed.

We do typically, or at least I conjure, one day of running per week. This is the one day I rejoice because it's my strength. Ha, I kid every time. Well, at least I can makeup for any other deficits with the running portion of the WOD.

4. CrossFit sometimes gets a negative reputation because of the CrossFit Games, and people automatically assume that you must be competitive to do CrossFit. I have found the exact opposite in both boxes that I worked-out at. Rather, I see CrossFit as an avenue for personal growth and betterment for myself and those around me.

I get so inspired by the advanced athletes at CrossFit SEO. Each of them has stories of not being able to do one double-under, a kipping pull-up, lifting more than the trainer bar, and so on. Today you see them getting PRs and killing their workouts. In this way, each athlete is on a personal journey to improved health. Improved health and maximum fitness within the CrossFit philosophy is more than just the weight on your bar. CrossFit aims to improve all areas of fitness, you can read more about the philosophy on the CrossFit website, What is CrossFit?

5. In line with my previous thought, keeping a journal or using the various CrossFit apps is important for many reasons so that you can review this growth. As a beginner, it can diminish your ego when a coach insists that you use a trainer bar, or asks you to simply use a weighted bar with no additional plates. However, this is for your good. I highly recommend those seeking a box to find one that embraces proper form over extreme weights. As you master form, you then can begin adding weights under the guidance of your coach, and you want to be able to celebrate these milestones. And progress will be had.

6. You'll get out what you put in. Pretty sure this is universal for any activity and/or hobby that one embarks. The more energy, focus and attention that you puts into your workouts will be evidenced in your overall performance.

CrossFit memberships can be pricey but you do not have to purchase much after the basics. Check out my CrossFit Essentials blog post to get a full review, but all of those items won't make you a better athlete. If I had to pick one essential item for CrossFit, it would be flat tennis shoes.

For the first few weeks, Jolene may say first month, I wore my running shoes because, well, that's what I had. Once I purchased a flat tennis shoe, and shortly thereafter the CrossFit Nanos; I could tell the difference substantially. I am not going to say that it immediately resulted in a PR but it did assist me with my form. If you run, you may be aware that running shoes are constructed for emphasizing being on your toes, or the forefront of your foot. In CrossFit, you want to have your weight equally distributed, even more emphasis on your heels, to maximize your effort and achieve good form. So, running shoes are simply ineffective, and slightly detrimental for gains.

Circling back to my original point, if you want to make gains and improve on various skills; then it's paramount that you work at it. And, I don't imagine that any CrossFit box has an entry exam or criteria to join so they're used to adapting the movements for you but even still you must come to the box and practice. Like I said prior, CrossFit SEO offers many "open gym" slots which allow members to do pretty much whatever they wish. I use the time to work on some basics - double-unders, kipping pull ups, and even various Olympic style lifts on Sat. Now, there are others that attend these sessions habitually, like several times a week, and guess what, you can tell.

7. (Warning:: Superficial observation ahead!) You may gain weight on the scale! I know, what woman wants to gain weight and wow you said that Michelyn. I'm keeping this reflection honest so let's keep it moving!

I did gain about 2-3lbs after starting CrossFit, but my clothes fit well. If I truly wanted to measure my gains, I'd retest my body fat percentage, but it's not that important to me at this point. However, I bring this up because this may frighten or even deter some females from pursuing CrossFit. I too have heard women say, well the scale isn't going down. We, as women, place so much emphasis on the number on the scale instead of our physique, in my opinion. Granted, I wouldn't want to start any workout that would make me gain 15 pounds. But, if it's a few pounds of muscle weight; I'm not fretting.

8. Friendship and community. CrossFit prizes itself at building a community of like-minded people that all enjoy fitness and healthy living, though I've gained more. So besides a great gym because of the workouts, I too enjoy CrossFit SEO for all its members. I truly respect and admire so many of them, and love the many conversations I've had with them after our classes.

The move to Athens was pretty painless because Team Kemp had previously worked with Coach Phillips and many of the other assistants, but it's been nice having another source for support.