I’m proud to say I am a CrossFit athlete. I have been one since Thanksgiving, 2010, when I was 58 years of age. My son was home for Thanksgiving, and several years earlier he played Rugby with Coach Samy at UNH, when Samy was setting up his first “gym” in his garage. My son really liked his early introduction to the workouts and the CrossFit regimen. When home that year, he was keen to complete a WOD at CFNH with his old team-mate and said “Why don’t you come along?”
While never an “athlete”, I invariably did some kind of physical activity, from golf in my teens, to Aikido in my twenties to early 30’s, then racquetball, a period of jogging after one relocation, then back to racquetball. In late 2010, I had been inactive for some time and really needed to get back to doing “something”. So, I went with my son to CFNH.
The first coach I encountered walked me over to the pull-up bars and said “let’s see how many pull-ups you can do”. I looked askance at him and said “Not happening”, then made a rather poor attempt at one simply to validate my response. I had never lifted weights – never mind pushing one above my head; completed even one air-squat; done a push-up; skipped rope; or even encountered a kettle bell. As to other equipment - you can guess.
That was then. After several months I was doing all sorts of weird things - Deadlifts, Cleans, Front and Back Squats,Presses, Thrusters, Kettle Bell Swings, Ring Dips (assisted), pull-ups (assisted), jumping rope and up on boxes, Wall-Balls etc., shed 30 lbs., and still maintain that weight-loss until today. I kept progressing, getting faster(except for running) and stronger. I feel at least 200% fitter (shoveling snow – Pah! – Child’s play), more energetic, I have better posture, stronger core, and my heretofore occasional incapacitating back spasms due to fused discs in my lumbar spine are non-existent. After a couple of years, my doctor approved elimination of hypertension medication.
I have been doing CrossFit for 6 ½ years since that day back in 2010, and I’m in the best condition I have ever been in. I don’t know how many people my age can make such a claim. I laugh at “Murph”. Muscle-ups – bring it on. (DUs….not so much). I have participated in the CrossFit Open the last 4 years, and I’m impressed by the scores posted by people my age.
There are three aspects of CrossFit that I really like, and continually tell people.
- All WODs are scalable. I can generally do exactly the same WOD as everyone else, not Rx, but with weights appropriate to my ever-increasing capabilities (with a few notable exceptions as I still struggle with Double Unders, and I don’t care if I never do an OHS as long as I live). If there is a movement I have difficulty with, the coaches will find a suitable alternative, or a way to do it “assisted”.
- I only compete against myself, and I can see my own progress. There are the “Benchmark” WODs, and others that are repeated over time, and as I have notebooks with details of every WOD I have ever done since 2010 I can see this progress, and it is remarkable. Faster times, more reps, heavier weights, (including faster times AND heavier weights); adding movements I could not do (3 years to get a first MU, getting better at Kipping HSPUs; I can occasionally achieve 15 unbroken DUs).
- Community/group participation. I would not have made all of the advances in my abilities without the continued support of, not only the best coaches around, but equally with that of my fellow WOD sufferers on a daily basis. They offer additional coaching, guidance, assistance, and most of all, excessively vocal support and encouragement - particularly for that last rep, or even the first one! These people are like family.
To anyone reading this because they are wondering what all the hype is about, and asking “Is CrossFit for someone of my age and/or current physical condition?” - I only ask, “Why are you NOT doing it?”
You won’t regret it!