Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Crossfit is worth over $1000 a month!

About two years ago I became interested in Olympic weightlifting.  The Olympic lifts consist of two lifts : the Clean & Jerk and the Snatch.  That's it, sounds simple right?  Well until you've tried to Snatch anything over 75lbs, you have no idea! Both lifts are extremely complicated, dangerous, and have an exceedingly long learning curve.  Not the kind of thing you want to teach yourself. They are also probably the most beneficial compound exercises for your whole body.

Being the typical gym guy that I was, I did try to teach myself.  I watched a bunch of YouTube videos, and practiced. Then I started adding weight... Believe it or not I practiced the Olympic lifts for a year and a half with no formal training.  Bad idea.  My back hurt for three days after Clean & Jerks, and my shoulders would hurt for nearly a week after heavy Snatch training (when I say heavy I only mean about 150, no Olympic feat). I knew I was doing something wrong, and I knew I needed a coach.

At typical gyms you have personal trainers for hire. Some of them are good at what they do, training non-athletes how to use simple bodybuilding and aerobic techniques so they don't look like complete jackasses in the gym.  Beyond that it is a crapshoot. Not one of the trainers in my gym was versed in Olympic lifting. Quite frankly the gym had no facilities for this kind of lifting either.  You need bumper weights and a safe spacious area. Bailing is about as common as in skateboarding, and you don't want to hit Johnny treadmill with a 200lb barbell! Alas even if my gym was set up for it, trainers charge between $45-75 an hour! As my friend Kevin likes to say "Muthafucka"!

This is where Crossfit comes in to play.  About a year ago I came across the website.  I was infatuated with their daily WOD's (workout of the day), posted on the main website. These guys were performing incredible feats of strength and endurance, on a daily basis, usually for time (most WOD's last for 20-30mins or less). I also noticed they performed both Olympic lifts, and other lifts meant to specifically train for these lifts, all with good form. So naturally I started to train the WOD's at my gym. Have you ever walked down the street dressed up as a giant Taco?  I haven't but I'd imagine the looks I got in my gym, were similar to the poor walking Taco. People think you're either an insane crack addict, or someone who wants to show off, but looks more like a chimpanzee.

Joining Crossfit was a scary experience.  I expected a group of elite athletes, x-navy seals, and jock monsters. I balked for months,  thinking I could get the same results in my gym if I just tried hard enough.  Quite honestly my gym was comfy and cushy.  It had a swimming pool, a sauna, a steam room, 20 showers etc...

Finally I convinced my brother to give Crossfit a try with me, just to check it out.  Wow! the first thing I got was a great vibe.  Everybody was friendly, encouraging, and curious about us.  Yes, many of them are amazing, elite athletes; however just as many had never even played sports before joining crossfit.  Some of the nicest guys in the gym are competing at national levels. It was so different than the average gym: where guys wear their ego like they won a heavyweight title, Where people don't talk or make eye contact, just workout with their headphones blasting,  Where the dudes think it is a meat market, and the ladies get off on it. Crossfitters learn from day one to leave their egos at the door. It is a great community, and you literally feel like you just joined a sports team (which in some ways is true).

The best part is the training, and the great savings compared to  having a personal trainer.  Not only is every class led by a coach, but the other members are always doling out great advice.  Perhaps more important they give me the motivation to do my best, and try harder. I admit at $150 a month for membership it cost twice as much as my old gym. On average I attend class about 5 times a week.  If I was paying $50 bucks a session for personal training elsewhere, that'd be $1000 dollars a month!

I love Crossfit, although I admit I am both addicted and obsessed (maybe a little crazy too)! The results in just 6 months have been off the charts.  I have gained strength in every lift, and am doing them with correct form (most of the time :). My body is more defined, though not in a bulky bodybuilder sort of way. Combined with the paleo/primal way of eating (which is heavily supported by the crossfit community), I dropped 20lbs in 3 months, leveling out to my ideal bodyweight.

If anyone lives in the Chicago area, definitely contact our head trainer Justin Marcis and drop in. Here's the link WindyCityCrossfit.

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