By Peter Delannoy
CrossFit is not “going to the gym.” You won’t find long rows of machines and muscled humans posing in front of mirrors. The demographic and the energy of the CrossFit gym is unified around core fitness regardless of age.
CrossFit gyms (called a box) are functional and have strange looking gear all around. Wooden boxes and racks with rings and pull-up bars and shelves full of medicine balls and other implements that will cause you to sweat and grit your teeth as you slam a twenty-pound ball from over your head onto the floor. There are bar bells, free weights, rowers, and bikes.
The workouts (WOD = workout of the day) are diverse–its rare to ever do the same workout more than once–and the WODs are challenging–they remind me of my rock climbing days. When I contemplate a WOD, it is the same as contemplating a hard climb: there is no guarantee that I will finish the WOD to the end. In the beginning I couldn’t finish most of the WODs, but over time, as you learn to lift with proper form, and your core fitness improves, the WODS become more doable.
Some in the media see CrossFit as a negative and even suggest that the WODs have exercises in them that have no purpose other than to make you tired. Yet if you look closely at the elements one can see that this evaluation is not true. Core fitness is emphasized and many different exercises are combined to achieve an amazing fitness standard. A better way to evaluate CrossFit would be to ask, does it get results?
The answer is yes and I will give you some data to back this up in a moment but first let me tell you more about myself. The breaking point for me came when my employer held one of those health days. You know the ones I’m talking about. The employees shuffle into a room where we are poked and prodded and fill out questionnaires about our health habits. I knew that I had border-line high blood pressure and also knew that high blood pressure was in my family history. I was over weight-not obese-but I was in the worse shape of my life–this is saying a lot given the fact that I had rock climbed and mountaineered for nearly thirty eight years prior to my mid-fifties. So my morale was at an all time low the day I underwent my health evaluation.
On this particular day we were shuffled into a cold gym where we filled out forms and answered questions like, “How many days a week do you exercise for at least twenty minutes?” I felt defeated. They took a blood sample at the next station and since I have a thing about needles my pulse and blood pressure peaked somewhere around the summit of Mount Everest. When they actually took my blood pressure I thought the attendant might call 911.
I was so traumatized by this experience that I immediately scheduled an appointment with my doctor and started researching different exercise programs. I also bought a blood pressure cuff and started monitoring my blood pressure and pulse every day. I now have data extending back from more than a year that includes blood pressure, heart rate, and body weight. The blood pressure and heart rate data was taken over a wide range of conditions–not just resting blood pressures and heart rates. I collected data right after workouts, in the morning and evenings, and sometimes as I walked around the house. I have months of data that was collected before I started CrossFit, and months of data after I started CrossFit.
Over the eight months that I have been doing CrossFit my blood pressure has dropped seven points and my heart rate has dropped five points and my weight is down ten pounds. My blood pressure before CrossFit = 133/83; Heart Rate = 66. My blood pressure after CrossFit = 126/76; Heart Rate 61. Remember that my blood pressure and heart rate data are not resting values but rather an average of values including those taken right after workouts where my heart rate in particular was still elevated. According to Fitness Motivators I’m doing pretty well and I am happy with the results and look forward to getting even better.
I have more energy, my mobility has increased and when I put on my belt on in the morning I have to cinch it an extra two notches. For the first time in years I’ve experienced compliments at work regarding my appearance and I feel fit. Recently, I played dodge ball with my students at school and played for the duration of the session and was never winded.
Lastly, CrossFit is a community. You will meet others in the box that are just like you. Old and young, we are all there for similar reasons. We want to live better lives. Come join us and send Boomer 100 your stories.