May 4, 2023

CrossFit 101: From a First Time CrossFit Athlete

CrossFit 101: From a First Time CrossFit Athlete

Alright, let's get real for a minute. You know you've walked by that CrossFit gym down the street and thought, "What the hell is going on in there?" The walls echoed with grunts and rubber slamming. People were doing handstands on walls and that muscle mommy was pumping out pull-ups like it was nothing. Well, that's CrossFit.

And no, it's not a cult, nor is it a torture chamber. 

Welcome to the world of CrossFit, my friend.

Now, if you're anything like me, you might be a gym rat that's spent more hours in the gym than in your own bed or you might just be curious about CrossFit. I know we all have our routines locked down: squat, bench, curl, repeat. But let me tell you, there's a whole other world out there waiting for you - and it's called CrossFit.

Let me tell ya, I've seen it all! From HIIT classes at F45 and strength training in bodybuilding gyms like Iron Alliance. But lately I decided it was time for a change of pace - so what better way than jumping into City of Lakes CrossFit!? Talk about an awesome community that genuinely wants their members to succeed; they even had patience when my "newbie" face kept showing up LOL. Big shoutout to these folks who help make sure we learn how-to walk before running! 

I am going to break down the basics for you. So, double scoop your pre workout, grab your wrist wraps, and get ready to join the CrossFit crew. 

Let's see what this whole thing is all about, shall we?

What is it? 

CrossFit is a fitness program that combines strength, conditioning, and just a touch of craziness to create one hell of a workout. And trust me, it's not for the faint of heart. But if you're ready to push yourself to the limits, build muscle like a beast, and surprise yourself with what you can achieve, then CrossFit might be your new best friend.

Past before present, let’s jump back to the beginning, 

History of CrossFit

CrossFit was founded in 2000 by Greg Glassman and his now ex-wife, Lauren Jenai in Santa Cruz, California. Glassman was a former gymnast and trainer who developed his own unique approach to fitness, combining gymnastics, weightlifting, and high-intensity interval training.

Initially, CrossFit was relatively unknown outside of the Santa Cruz area, but it quickly gained popularity among military personnel, law enforcement officers, and firefighters who appreciated its emphasis on functional, real-world movements.

In 2005, CrossFit held its first ever CrossFit Games, an annual athletic competition that brings together athletes from around the world to compete in a variety of workouts and challenges. The competition has since grown in size and popularity, with the 2019 CrossFit Games attracting over 358,000 athletes from around the world.

Over the years, CrossFit has expanded rapidly, with thousands of affiliated gyms operating worldwide. Glassman's goal was to create a fitness program that was accessible to people of all ages, fitness levels, and abilities. CrossFit's focus on scalability and inclusivity has helped to make it one of the most popular and well-respected fitness programs in the world.

The popular CrossFit workouts typically involve a combination of weightlifting, gymnastics, and metabolic conditioning exercises. CrossFit also at times includes other sports like swimming and cycling. These workouts are often completed in a group setting and are designed to challenge members both physically and mentally.

It is definitely not for the faint heart or the weak. When you step into the CrossFit gym, it’s grind time right through the door.

Definition of CrossFit

Let’s break it down! CrossFit is a training method that combines aerobic exercise, bodyweight exercises, weightlifting, and gymnastics.This high-intensity workout builds strength and endurance, while also improving heart health and mental focus. The philosophy of CrossFit emphasizes safe, effective exercise and a diet based on lean proteins and garden vegetables. In short, CrossFit is a constantly varied, functional movement performed at high intensity, making it a sport of fitness.

CrossFit workouts combine various functional movements performed at high intensity. These workouts are designed to challenge and improve various aspects of fitness, including strength, endurance, speed, flexibility, and balance. CrossFit workouts are typically divided into the following components:

  • Warm-Up: Every CrossFit workout starts with a warm-up that includes light cardio exercise and stretching, such as jogging or jumping jacks, followed by stretching and mobility work.
  • Skill/Strength Training: This part of the workout is focused on building strength and working on specific skills or techniques. This may include exercises such as weightlifting, powerlifting, or gymnastics movements.
  • WOD (Workout of the Day): The WOD is the main part of the workout and varies every day. It may include exercises such as rowing, running, jumping, or weightlifting, and is designed to challenge participants both physically and mentally. The WOD typically lasts for around 20-30 minutes, with participants completing as many rounds or reps as possible within that time frame.
  • Cool-Down: The cool-down portion of the workout involves stretching and light cardio exercise to help reduce muscle soreness and promote recovery.

One of the hallmarks of CrossFit workouts is that they are constantly varied and rarely repeated. This keeps the workouts fresh and challenging, preventing participants from plateauing and ensuring continued progress. CrossFit workouts are also scalable, meaning that they can be modified to suit individual fitness levels and goals.

What about Methodology?

The intensity of CrossFit workouts is a crucial component of the program's effectiveness. The workouts are designed to be high-intensity, meaning that participants are encouraged to work at a pace that challenges them both physically and mentally.

When performed at high intensity, the workouts can help improve strength and endurance, increase cardiovascular fitness, and burn fat in a shorter time than traditional workouts. High intensity also promotes the production of human growth hormone, which can help to improve muscle building and recovery.

Additionally, high-intensity work can improve mental focus and resilience, helping participants push through tough workouts and achieve their fitness goals. By regularly pushing oneself to work at high intensity, individuals can increase their fitness levels and make significant improvements to their overall health and well-being.

However, it is important to note that high intensity should be balanced with proper form and technique to avoid injury. Participants should always work with a qualified coach and progress gradually to higher levels of intensity over time.

City of Lakes Crossfit member doing a muscle up

What are the Benefits?

Ok, so I gave you some background and build-up to get an idea of what Crossfit is. In this explanation, I will break it down into five key advantages: improved cardiovascular endurance, increased strength, and muscle mass, enhanced flexibility and mobility, reduced body fat, and improved overall fitness.

Improved Cardiovascular Endurance

One major benefit of CrossFit is improved cardiovascular endurance. CrossFit workouts often involve high-intensity cardio exercises, such as running, rowing, and burpees, which can increase heart rate and improve respiratory function. Over time, performing these exercises at increasingly high intensities can improve one's ability to maintain a high level of effort over a longer period of time, such as during distance running or endurance events. Improved cardiovascular endurance can also have significant health benefits, such as reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases and improving overall heart health.

Increased Strength and Muscle Mass

Another benefit of CrossFit is the increase in strength and muscle mass. CrossFit workouts incorporate weightlifting, powerlifting, and bodyweight exercises that challenge the muscular system, increasing overall strength and muscle mass. Over time, consistent participation in CrossFit workouts can lead to noticeable improvements in physical appearance and performance and reduce the risk of injuries caused by weak muscles and joints.

Enhanced Flexibility and Mobility

CrossFit workouts often include exercises that target flexibility and mobility, such as stretching, yoga, and mobility drills. These exercises help to develop a full range of motion in the joints and improve overall flexibility and mobility. By preventing stiffness and improving range of motion, participants can more effectively perform complex movements and reduce the risk of injury related to joint mobility issues.

Reduced Body Fat

Due to their high-intensity nature, the workouts burn a significant amount of calories in a short amount of time. This calorie burn can have a lasting effect on body composition, reducing body fat and increasing lean muscle mass. Combining strength training and high-intensity cardio, the workouts can provide a full-body workout that targets all major muscle groups and efficiently burns calories.

Improved Overall Fitness

Finally, the workouts combine elements of strength training, conditioning, and mobility work, resulting in a workout that physically and mentally challenges participants. CrossFit workouts aim to improve all aspects of physical fitness, including strength, endurance, power, speed, agility, flexibility, balance, and coordination. By focusing on comprehensive, well-rounded fitness, CrossFit can significantly improve overall health and well-being.


The community is known for being incredibly supportive, motivating, and inclusive. Unlike other fitness programs where participants may be in competition with each other, CrossFit emphasizes teamwork and camaraderie. CrossFit gyms are often referred to as "boxes," and they serve as a hub for a community of fitness enthusiasts who share a passion for health and wellness.

In a CrossFit box, you'll often find people of all ages, fitness levels, and walks of life. Rather than judging each other's fitness abilities, members of the CrossFit community cheer each other on and celebrate each other's achievements. Because CrossFit workouts are scaled to individual abilities, everyone can participate and feel a sense of accomplishment.

In addition to the welcoming atmosphere, many members of the CrossFit community follow a similar nutrition plan, which emphasizes eating whole, unprocessed foods and avoiding sugar and refined carbohydrates. This shared approach to nutrition can also foster a sense of community and support outside of the gym.

Overall, the CrossFit community is known for being a tight-knit, welcoming group of like-minded people who will push you to reach your fitness goals and encourage you every step of the way.

Risk of Injury

Alright, now the elephant in the room, risk of injury! I always hear people go straight to the injury side of CrossFit. Well, let’s talk about it!

Right off the bat, it's important to acknowledge that there are risks involved. Due to its high-intensity nature, CrossFit can put participants at risk of injury if proper form and technique are not followed. Some common injuries associated with CrossFit include strained muscles, pulled ligaments, shoulder injuries, and back injuries.

However, it's important to note that these risks can be minimized by working with a qualified coach, starting at a level appropriate for your fitness and skill level, and always focusing on proper form and technique. A good coach at City of Lakes CrossFit gave me a pretty straightforward reality of it. He said, “Look, people get hurt when they are doing the movement wrong.” A good CrossFit coach will emphasize safety and guide participants through proper form for each exercise, preventing injuries caused by improper execution of movements.

It's also important to listen to your body and not push yourself beyond your limits. Overtraining is a common issue in the CrossFit community and can lead to injuries, fatigue, and burnout. Rest and recovery are important parts of a successful CrossFit program and should be taken just as seriously as the workouts themselves.

While there are inherent risks involved in any fitness program, the risks associated with CrossFit can be minimized by working with a qualified coach, practicing proper form and technique, and listening to your body. With the right precautions in place, CrossFit can be a safe, fun, and effective way to achieve your fitness goals.

What are the coaches like?

The coaches are typically highly skilled in a wide range of fitness disciplines, including weightlifting, gymnastics, and cardiovascular fitness. They have a deep understanding of the human body and how it responds to different types of exercise, enabling them to design effective workouts that help clients achieve their desired results.

In addition to their fitness expertise, the coaches are often known for their outgoing and friendly personalities. They are passionate about fitness and helping others achieve their goals, and this enthusiasm is contagious. Many clients of CrossFit coaches describe them as approachable, knowledgeable, and highly supportive individuals who are crucial to their success in the program.

Overall, the coaches are an integral part of the community, and their expertise and guidance help clients of all fitness levels to achieve their goals and become the best version of themselves.

Wrap it up!

Alright, bros and bro-ettes, that's a wrap on our discussion of CrossFit. Whether you're new to the game or you've been sweating it out at the box for years, it's clear that CrossFit offers a unique and challenging fitness experience that is unlike anything else out there.

Sure, there may be some risks involved, and you might end up with a few bumps and bruises along the way, but isn't that part of the fun? CrossFit is all about stepping outside your comfort zone, pushing your limits, and becoming the best version of yourself - both physically and mentally.

So, if you're ready to get shredded, build some serious strength, and join a community of like-minded fitness enthusiasts who will push you to reach new heights, then it's time to give CrossFit a try. With its intense but effective workouts, supportive community, and expert coaching, CrossFit offers a fitness experience that truly stands out from the crowd.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got some gains to make. Catch you on the flip side, bros!

Rolando Ruiz

"First Time CrossFit Athlete"

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