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5 things I learned from a day in a CrossFit Box

What is CrossFit?

CrossFit is many things but one thing’s for sure: you won’t get bored here! This week, along with the Cologne USC community, we spent a stormy autumn Saturday at CrossFit Rheingym to find out what CrossFit’s really about.

Here are 5 key learnings from the day…

Absolutely everyone is welcome

CrossFitters are strong. Really strong. They lift weights, jump on boxes and can easily do 100 pull-ups. At least that’s the picture that comes into my head when I think of CrossFitters. It can be daunting, especially when you can barely do 10 push-ups and just the thought of burpees makes you shudder. So I entered the CrossFit box with mixed feelings.

If you have the same image of CrossFit and feel more comfortable in yoga studios or swimming pools then I have good news: everyone can do CrossFit and everyone is welcome. At Rheingym we were all greeted warmly by our trainer Kathie and she told us that we will be able to do it, whether we’ve tried CrossFit before or not. And that set the mood for the day.

Nothing comes from nothing

There’s a lot of truth to this, because a fit body comes from hard work and one key factor: healthy, nutritious food! Kathie gave us an interesting talk about healthy food for athletes and showed us the differences between the different carbohydrates, fats and proteins. We learnt a lot – for example did you know that carbohydrates don’t automatically make you fat after 18 o’clock? 😉

Technology is the be-all and end-all

I’m feeling good during the warm-up and after a few laps of running it’s time for the first challenge: sled pushes. We divide into three teams and push the heavy sled, loaded with weights, from one side of the hall to the other with a 10 minute time cap. It’s all about technique. Kathie shows us how to push the sled in an efficient way and without risk of injury. 

After this challenge I’m already out of breath and sweating buckets. But that was just the beginning – because the WOD is still ahead of us. In CrossFit language ‘WOD’ stands for “Workout of the Day” and is guaranteed to exhaust you completely. 

To begin, Kathie and Paul set up a circuit:

Rowing or cycling

Burpees

Kettlebell swings

Goblet squats

Pull-ups

So far so good. Kathie announces: “Divide into the stations and off you go! 90 seconds exercise, 30 seconds break – 3 rounds! GO!” 

My group and I start with burpees. It’s only the first exercise, but I’m quickly out of breath – they’re damn exhausting, especially when you know there’s four more exercises and two more rounds to go. But Paul has some advice: “Take short breaks on the floor, then you can’t fall over.” 

Next up: kettlebell swings. There’s a lot you can do wrong here, Paul says. A crooked back is an absolute no-go and you don’t have to squat as low as you might think. Paul and Kathie always keep a watchful eye on us and correct our form when necessary. This is important, especially when doing exercises with weights and barbells. It’s easy to overestimate your abilities and reach for the heavier weight, however, as soon as you lose your form, the risk of injury skyrockets. It’s therefore advisable to start with little or no weight at the beginning so you can learn the correct execution and technique. Beginners courses are offered in all CrossFit boxes and they’ll teach you how to move correctly.

It’s all about community

Throughout the work out we cheer each other on and Kathie and Paul motivate us with loud music which keeps us going until the last second. Every time we finish a round we high-five which adds an extra layer of motivation!

Before the workout we didn’t know each other, but by the end we definitely do! Whether an experienced CrossFitter or a total newbie, all of us came together to become one big team!

Competition vs. community?

CrossFit is about pushing yourself to the limit. You’re fighting against time, against burning muscles and against your head telling you to stop. Because the workout doesn’t just challenge your body, it challenges your mental strength too. It’s about more than physical condition: it’s about willpower and stamina. 

CrossFit is about community, but it has a competitive side. There are lots of competitions within the sport so if you’re a competitive person then you’ll find tons of opportunities to challenge yourself. As Kathie says: “Everyone has to work on their own weaknesses.”

CrossFit therefore has two sides – community and competition. So everyone can find what fits and push themselves to the best of their abilities.

Kathie says “CrossFit consists of Olympic weightlifting, gymnastics, athletics, endurance… and it’s always fun.” Her happy smile shows that she really means it. 

Do you want to take part in a community event in your city? Then stay tuned for more events near you. We’re looking forward to meeting you soon!

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