Benefits of an Exercise Class

There are many benefits to an exercise class, especially if you’re someone who wouldn’t exercise normally. Below is the top reasons to join an exercise class today.

TOP REASONS TO JOIN AN EXERCISE CLASS

  • Accountability. This one is huge. If you commit to a class, you are more likely to attend. If you attend a gym or a workout facility that charges you if you miss a class, this percentage jumps dramatically. This is an even better way to make sure you exercise. These are usually specialty places like HIIT gyms, kickboxing, or cycle classes where they reserve equipment for you and don’t let others in.
  • Extra push. You do work harder when there are others around you to “compete” against, even if you aren’t necessarily competing. We can thank our inner drive most of us have to beat others, which is also the reason humans are where we are technologically. The drive to be the best and be the first has resulted in major innovations over time.
  • Workout with a friend. Working out with a friend also contributes to
    Crossfit Running in a 5k race
    Running a 5k

    accountability as well. However, the primary reason to attend an exercise class with a friend is it’s fun. It makes the hour long class go by a lot faster when you can chit-chat in-between moves or during transition times.

  • Mindless. It’s nice to show up to the gym and not have to think about what to do, especially if you’ve been at work all day, thinking. Furthermore, an exercise class provides this much needed structure, so your time is maximized — important when so many of us lead very busy lives.
  • Learn about exercise. Exercise class instructors will teach you about exercise. They will show you proper form for moves, give you new moves you didn’t know existed and/or ideas to add to your own workout routine, and extra tips like nutrition and supplement advice.
  • Routine. Attending the same classes every week is an easy way to develop a routine. You are more likely to stick to exercising in a routine than just going it your own, hoping for the best.
  • Variety. We all know how mind-numbingly boring running on a treadmill can be. However, you run on a treadmill in a class setting with the instructor telling you what to do and pushing you, and this mind-numbing has suddenly turned into a butt-whipping that you crave.

There are many benefits to attending exercise classes as well as working out alone. Try both and see what works for you. What really matters is staying active and  healthy. How you stay active and healthy is up to you.

A Killer HIIT Workout

I just did a HIIT (high-intensity, interval training) workout for 90 minutes today at Orange Theory Fitness and got my butt kicked. I ran almost 5 miles at different intensities, and then had to row and do dumbbell moves afterwards. By 1 hour and 20 minutes, I was done. I was barely moving. I’m pretty sore now already.

WHAT’S A HIIT WORKOUT?

HIIT workouts are high-intensity interval training workouts designed to increase the

Crossfit chicks preparing to weightlift in CrossFit
Preparing to Weightlift in CrossFit

body’s need for oxygen and create an oxygen shortage, causing your body to ask for more oxygen during recovery. This afterburn effect is referred to as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) and is the reason why intense exercise will help burn more fat and calories than regular aerobic and steady-state workouts.

Over time, high-intensity workouts can increase your VO2 max, or your body’s ability to use oxygen for energy. This translates to better endurance, which leads to more energy and the ability to sustain more work for a longer period of time.

Working different aerobic systems improves endurance while building stronger fast-twitch muscle fibers, which can help deliver that final kick needed to finish strong. Working out at 70 percent to 80 percent of your maximum heart rate will deliver the greatest EPOC effect.

However, recovery is important. We only get stronger when we recover, and it can take 24 to 48 hours to fully recover from a high intensity interval training workout.

WHY YOU SHOULD TRY HIIT WORKOUTS

  • Increase your metabolism to burn more calories faster and longer
  • Increase your VO2 max to increase endurance
  • Force yourself outside your comfort zone to do things you otherwise wouldn’t
  • Increase performance across all sports

I can tell you right now I would never have done this on my own. The advantages to working out in a class setting is you do do things you otherwise wouldn’t. It was fun. I got an amazing workout. I burned 741 calories. And I feel great! I can’t wait until my next class!

Can You Plateau with CrossFit?

As I’ve slowly watched my weight increase (and not in a good way) over the past 6 months, I’ve been wondering this question: Can you plateau with CrossFit? In my mind, yes, I believe you can and here’s why:

  • Same movements, same weights. Sure, CrossFit is known for its variety in workouts. However, it’s still all the same movements and usually the Rx (the recommended weights) are the same each go-around.
  • Same format. Each CrossFit box is unique, but most stick to the same pattern. At my old CrossFit box (of which I have just now switched), we did a strength and then a workout or WOD that was usually under 20 minutes. Well, your body adapts to this over time (for me it was 3 years), and unless you push yourself further, you won’t see results.
  • Same mindset. It’s hard to push yourself when working out alone. Yet, I’m still moving but am I getting the same benefits?
  • Same perspective. A change in coaches is a good thing. Listening to different ideas is a good thing. Visiting other boxes and seeing how others do things will prompt you to do things differently. Go somewhere else. Get a different opinion and different idea. Let go of the idea “this is how it’s always done” and be open.

CHANGES IN CROSSFIT PROGRAMMING

crossfit girls doing burpees over barbell at crossfit competition
Burpees over Barbell

As I said before, it’s time for a change. I’ve recently embraced HIIT training, which is training at high-intensity for short amounts of time with active recovery in-between. The theory goes HIIT training gets and keeps your heart rate up and burns more fat in less time, increasing your metabolism, which translates to more fat burn up to 48 hours after the workout. And this is what I need.

I want to improve my CrossFit game, and for the last 6 months, all I’ve been doing is maintaining. I’m adding in HIIT classes, swimming, and smaller does of CrossFit (sometimes twice a day) to see what happens. And when I do CrossFit, it will be different. Heavier weights. Odd objects. Something.

It takes something unusual to make me sore these days (this is part of the reason I love CrossFit Competitions so much — different exercises and multiple times in one day that make me sore). I miss that sore feeling — the knowledge in your brain you are changing instead of staying the same. And no one wants to stay the same.

 

The Love/Hate Relationship CrossFit Women Have with their Bodies

I recently came across an article about how CrossFit women should be proud of their bodies, have less body issues than other women, and are strong. It was written very definitively about how women who CrossFit love their strong bodies.

I’m here with the counter-argument: CrossFit women have just as many body issues as other women (maybe more so since our bodies do change significantly when you continue with CrossFit). We struggle just as much with nutrition and food choices. We do care what we look like in terms of makeup. Clothes shopping is much harder with a CrossFit body.

There is one difference NOT noted in the article:

CrossFit women have a love/hate relationship with their bodies that other women do not.

WHY CROSSFIT WOMEN LOVE/HATE THEIR BODIES

  • We are stared at. Usually in a leering way, not in a healthy way. Women either are
    CrossFit hotties at CrossFit Competition doing box jumps
    CrossFit Box Jumps

    jealous or think we look gross. Men look at us like men look at other women — they just stare longer since we DON’T look like other women they see too often.

  • Clothes don’t fit. I have given up trying to find jeans that will go over my calves and my thighs. I live in yoga pants. I have given up trying to find nice-fitting T-shirts that are small but fit my shoulders. Dresses have to be the right cut or my muscles look horrible in them.
  • Food is a real struggle. Adhering to a strict diet is a test of mental strength, which after doing a CrossFit WOD which puts us on the floor, is a battle many of us don’t have the strength for. How your body looks is all about food. Period. If you don’t eat right, you won’t look right no matter the hours you throw down at the gym.
  • We are strong but still want to be delicate flowers. I am strong. I can lift heavy items. But I don’t outside the box. Why? Because I’m a woman who wants a man to lift heavy things for me when the need arises. I don’t want to have to lift MORE heavy items after the gym.
  • Our changing bodies yield body insecurities. When people first started telling me, “Hey, Jen. You’re ripped!” I didn’t realize how muscular I had become. It was definitely an acceptance process. Now, as I lift heavier, my lats are thicker, my shoulders wider, my legs bigger. It’s an on-going battle women CrossFitters face.

It’s a fact if you lift heavy weights, you’ll gain muscle. Muscle is bulk. You will look different than your average woman. Some women I know quit CrossFit because they don’t like what CrossFit does to their bodies. Anyone who tells you you won’t bulk up is lying to you. This is part of accepting your body as it does gain muscle. And this is part of CrossFit.

CrossFit will Change Your Body

Go into CrossFit with your eyes open. Learn about it. Read and study about lifting weights. Read about the metabolic pathways. Then decide if CrossFit is for you.

You all know I love CrossFit. I love what CrossFit does for me. I love how my body looks. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a struggle to accept how I look, to not be critical, to think I’m fat, etc.

We all have baggage we carry from childhood into adulthood and from society. It’s a mindset we all have to overcome.

Updates to CrossFit PRs and Maxes for 2018

 

hot crossfit moms during running event
CrossFit and Running

Last year, I posted on my weightlifting personal records in an effort to assess how much stronger I’ve gotten, so I thought I’d do the same this year.

Back squat:  Previous:  210.  Current PR:  235  Percentage increase:  8.93%

Front squat:  Previous:  175.  Current PR:  175  Percentage increase:  0%

Overhead squat:  Previous:  115 Current PR:  120  Percentage increase:  9.58%

Squat Clean:  Previous:  140  Current PR:  150 Percentage increase:  9.3%

Power Clean:  Previous:  110  Current PR:  135 Percentage increase:  12.27%

Bench Press:  Previous:  102  Current PR:  116  Percentage increase:  8.79%

Split Jerk:  Previous:  140  Current PR:  140  Percentage increase:  0%

Snatch:  Previous:  105  Current PR:  110  Percentage increase:  9.5%

Deadlift:  Previous:  230  Current PR:  235  Percentage increase:  9.7%

My percentages are low, which does not surprise me. Strength has not been a focus for me this last year. I thought I wanted to lift more and more, but I decided the risk of injury wasn’t worth the push. This was because I sprained my wrist trying to PR my squat clean during the Open and realized then being healthy is more important.

 

“I’m Afraid of CrossFit”

This was the response I got from a young lady who works at a popular fitness center near me. I should have asked her why, but it’s the New Year, and all fitness centers are popular.

Still, I couldn’t help but wonder why? Why would you be afraid of CrossFit?

Why Some are Afraid of CrossFit

  • Getting hurt. This is the most common reason people are afraid of CrossFit. This
    crossfit girls doing chest to bar pull ups at crossfit competition
    CrossFit Chest to Bar Pull Ups

    one baffles me. Sure, you can get injured, don’t get me wrong. But the injury rate of CrossFit is much less than all other sports, especially repetitive movement sports such as running, baseball, basketball, or hockey. This is where a high-quality CrossFit coach will keep you safe, prevent you from doing moves your shouldn’t, and correct your form when needed.

  • Intimidating. The CrossFit equipment is foreign and the members look foreign as well with fit, muscular bodies.  A CrossFit box is no more intimidating than walking into a gym with all the foreign weight machines or taking a group fitness class with different lingos or even yoga with its own language. Furthermore, most people who do CrossFit do not look like Mat Fraser or Annie Thorisdottir. They are average people who look like most others.
  • Humbling. This is true especially for guys. You won’t be the quickest in the CrossFit box when you do CrossFit for the first time. You won’t be able to do all the moves. And you won’t be able to RX (perform the CrossFit workout with the recommended weight loads) for quite a while. This is why CrossFit is so addicting. You push yourself beyond your comfort zone until you change. In fact, that’s the only way you will change.
  • Misconceptions. CrossFit is not what you see at the CrossFit Games, which, for most people, is all they know of CrossFit. There are so many misconceptions and misconstrued assumptions of CrossFit that are wrong floating around; however, a lot of people believe these untruths. The only way to know for sure is to try CrossFit out.

Fear is the universal reaction we all have when we are ignorant of something. You were afraid to ride your bike for the first time, afraid to go to school, afraid to go to college, and afraid at your first job interview. You were afraid to ask your now spouse out, afraid of rejection, and afraid of travelling abroad. But once you did it, your fear fled like a cat who hears a loud noise.

The fear of CrossFit is the same as the fear of any sport or any gym you want to join. Once you get used to CrossFit, you might enjoy it. But you’ll never know unless you try.

Life is too short to live in fear of anything.

Just do it. You’ll be glad you did.