When I first started learning about Paleo over a year ago, I also learned about Crossfit, which seems to go hand in hand with the diet and its principles: Move Slowly, Lift Heavy Things, Sprint Once in a While. The principles seem easy enough, and Mark Sisson goes on to describe his workouts as barefoot sprinting on the beach at sunrise. Perfectly euphoric, but alas, there are no beaches in Colorado.
So, for most Paleos, there is Crossfit. For me, Crossfit has always seemed like the mythical unicorn of exercise. Huge warehouses where hard-bodied, shirtless men and women in midriff-baring sports bras do endless chin ups and push huge tractor tires across a yard. There is no way I ever could have pictured myself doing it at my current size and fitness level. That is, until my friend Jen joined a Crossfit gym near work, and my friend Lauren decided to do the free intro class. I went along, just to feel it out and see if it was for me. Here is how my night went.
First of all, I typically leave work around 4-4:30pm, and eat dinner pretty early around 5:30pm. Tonight I was absolutely terrified that I would end up throwing up from the intensity, so I didn’t eat before the 6:30 class. Unfortunately, that meant that by the time I left around 8pm, I was shaking and starving, something I haven’t felt since my pre-paleo days.
The workout itself was mostly things I had done before. Two circuits of rowing, kettlebell swings, squats, push-ups, a couple flights of stairs, and chin-ups. Now, I could never, ever do a chin-up. Even in grade school gym class. (This includes a traumatic experience circa 1991 where I swung my legs up too hard in and effort to keep them off the ground, and crashed LOUDLY onto my back). So when the trainer was describing the proper form for a chin-up, all I could hear was, “Blah, blah blah, you are SO gonna fall.” Luckily, he modified the move for me by having me lean back with 2 rings and pull myself up by my arms. Much easier, but I’m still feeling it.
By the end of the workout, I was exhausted. My legs felt like 2 cooked spaghetti noodles, and I was feeling nauseous and a little bit like I was going to pass out. (Again, this could be due to not eating for several hours before hand.) While he talked to us about membership schedules and fees, I ended up grabbing my water bottle and sitting down to keep from passing out.
My thought right now? I’m not ready to commit to full-on Crossfit just yet. One factor is the cost. One month of Crossfit costs almost 3 times as much as THREE months of Zumba. I do understand that the setting is very much like personal training, and for that the price is of course reasonable, but I want to make sure that I’m physically able to push myself in these workouts and get my money’s worth. Also, since the classes are in group settings, I am sure that I will almost always be one of the last to finish. While all of the people I encountered were nothing but friendly and encouraging, it would put a lot of pressure on me that I’m not quite ready for. I have gotten used to being one of those people in the front row of my Zumba class who knows exactly what I’m doing, and I want to bask in that feeling just a little bit longer.
One thing I will say about the Crossfit gym is that it is one of the few gym/workout experiences where I have felt 100% comfortable being there. There were people of all different shapes and sizes, and everyone was super friendly. The trainers were also supportive and ready to make modifications rather than pushing you too far out from your comfort zone. I also did not feel judged when they looked at me, even though I was clearly one of the largest people in the room. So, my mind is not completely made up, but for now I’m feeling that I’m not quite ready. But don’t worry Crossfit, I will be back.
P.S. Since this post ALMOST became a Zumba vs. Crossfit comparison rant, I can’t help but post this video. Enjoy!