Don’t be alarmed by the large rope dangling from the ceiling—you’ll just be climbing that in about 10 minutes. Welcome to Crossfit.
There is no easing into your first Crossfit workout. If you’re not prepared to work hard, you’re not ready for class. I came into my first workout at Crossfit SISU in Excelsior with a fairly standard late-20s fitness story. I played baseball in high school, and now I play slow-pitch, beer-league softball. I “threw around the heavies” on a daily basis in college, and now I work out a few times a week.
As I’ve become older and wiser, I’ve focused more on nutrition and well-rounded workouts, and less on lifting as much weight as possible. Suffice to say, I’m probably in better shape overall than I was in college by every measure other than my bench press, but I’m not the fanatical gym rat I once was. I say this not to brag, but to give you a better sense of the intensity of a Crossfit workout.
The hour-long group class (there were about 15 people) begins with a quick jog followed by few body exercises like pushups and squats. It’s fast paced, and any thoughts of coasting are quickly abandoned, if for some reason that notion had entered your mind.
Once the warmup is complete, the crux of the workout focuses on two main components. For me, step one was climbing a rope, with the goal being to pull myself to the top using nothing but my upper-body strength. Being a beginner’s class, we only went about halfway up, and performed a modified version that involved using the legs.
Feeling pretty confident after the rope climbing, I moved onto the main event of the evening, thinking this Crossfit thing wasn’t so bad.
Ha—was I wrong.
The second routine went something like this: 10 burpees. Lunges across the gym while carrying a 25-pound weight overhead. Squats pulling the 25-pound weight down to the floor, and back overhead. And another set of 25-pound lunges across the gym. Then repeat. Then repeat again. Three sets, 15 minutes.
After all this, I gasped for breath for about 15 minutes, drank three bottles of water and recouped while the more seasoned Crossfitters finished their routine before we all parted ways.
Now, you may think that this feeling of sheer exhaustion that forced me to momentarily come to grips with my own mortality would make me caution you about trying Crossfit. However, it’s quite the opposite. Yes, the workout will push you, but workouts are supposed to push you, and the challenge is the most invigorating part. One class will leave you craving more.
After my routine, I spoke to Crossfit SISU co-owners Jason Johnson and Pat Crosby. As former college athletes and personal trainers, they found Crossfit to be the ultimate workout, and turned their passion into a job by opening the Excelsior gym in January 2014 (they also have a location in Plymouth). “This is a marriage of two things I love to do—fitness and business,” Crosby says.
The pair knows how intense Crossfit is, but they don’t want that to scare people away. The true pillar of the workout is pushing towards personal goals, no matter how big or small. On a given night, anyone from a middle-aged woman to a former professional athlete to a guy like me comes through the gym, and each one is doing the exact same workout.
“You have people here who just want to lose some weight, some people who really want to compete, and everyone in between,” Johnson says. “Every workout can be scaled to make it harder or easier depending on your skill level. It sounds like a catchphrase, but Crossfit really is for everybody.”
I can tell you firsthand that Johnson and Crosby will push you. All it takes is one class to realize that if you are serious about fitness, Crossfit is the ultimate workout. You’ll definitely come out of that first class wanting more. It just may take a couple of days to recover first.
Interested in trying it for yourself? Check out crossfitsisu.com for class times and locations.