It’s hard to change. Really hard.
Pre-CrossFit (P.C.) I was a globo-gym addict. Five days a week, sometimes six. Waiting on the doorstep at 4:45am for the Air Force base gym to open at 5. Free weights, cardio equipment, leg presses, and even some machines. Leg days, tri/bi days, chest and back days. I loved it. I felt great and really thought I was getting somewhere. My muscles were growing and I was a better cyclist because of it. Sure, I only had one kind of pathetic-looking pull-up but I had one! No other girl in the gym ever came close. I was the queen of what the front desk girls called “The Testosterone Room.”
Then I found CrossFit.
I tried one workout. It was supposed to be 20 min. I barely made it to 10. But it seemed like it had lasted for hours, and I was wrecked for the next day. I had finally met my match.
I tried another and another and another CrossFit workout.
Still cycling my “CrossFit-style lifting” sessions (that’s actually what I wrote in my training log) with long road rides, some sprinting, and swimming. I was still trying to break things up into “Leg Days” and “Upper Body Days.” Oh—and toss in 40 minutes on the elliptical and maybe the treadmill.
It worked for a while.
But then a funny thing happened.
I realized I was an idiot. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t separate all the CrossFit workouts into upper body or lower body days. A power clean involved the whole body, as did clean and jerks, deadlifts, push presses, squats, snatches, kettlebell exercises, rowing, and even the famed pull-up. (And I had five of those now: something I had never been able to achieve in all my globo-gym days.) CrossFit made me mix up all the body parts, just like life did. It made me intertwine cardio and lifting, just like life did. CrossFit—when I went hard enough—was leaving me gasping and exhausted in 20 minutes, like hours in the globo-gym never had. It became my drug of choice. I still went to the gym five days out of seven, but what I did was soooo much harder, even though it was shorter. I felt better, looked better, was better.
See, what it took me so long to realize was this: more does not always mean better.
We live in a big society, with big appetites, and this attitude bleeds over into our gym culture. We (mistakenly) think that more time in the gym means that we’re achieving more. Not necessarily so. What matters is effort and skill and attitude, not just time punched on the clock. That’s pretty much true for success in all walks of life, so why would we think that things would be any different in the gym?
To see that though, you have to turn things on their head. Look outside the box. Take a different viewpoint and don’t be content to just do what everybody else does.
Every once in a while, I think about taking two hours and doing one of my old globo-gym workouts, maybe a “back and bi’s” day, followed by 45 minutes on the elliptical. And then I remember how impersonal, soul-less, and boring it was—and I realize I’d rather shoot myself in the stomach. CrossFit is a better way. You just have to wrap your head around it.