At the beginning of June, I had very little knowledge of CrossFit. I interviewed some people at my local CrossFit gym and talked to some of my Facebook friends who do CrossFit. Then, I turned to the internet. All of this was good enough for my informative article on CrossFit but, let me tell you, it doesn’t even remotely prepare you for your first CrossFit class.
If you have already been lifting weights, coming to your first CrossFit class may not be that big of a deal for you. For me, however, it was a huge deal. With two C-sections and an umbilical hernia repair, I had barely lifted a weight in the past three years.
Honestly, the last serious strength training I did was P90X, and that was about seven years ago. (To read about my first P90X workout, click here.) In my head, I imagined that the intensity and muscle pain the following day would be about the same in CrossFit as it was in P90X seven years ago.
My calculations were off. I obviously didn’t take my age or the fact that I hadn’t lifted a weight in years into consideration when setting my expectations. So, on the first Friday of June, I walked in for my first CrossFit class with a bottle of water and an expectation that I would be sore for a couple days after my workout. When I left, my water was gone and I could barely lift my arms to drive myself home.
The CrossFit gym seemed to be in an old industrial building. Everybody parked out back and entered through an open roll-up door. The door seemed to be tall enough for a delivery truck to drive through, and I wondered what purpose the building served before it became a CrossFit gym.
When I walked into the building, I was very surprised to find a wide, open gym. I guess I expected more of a traditional gym with rooms and walls. Now that I realize there is just one class here–CrossFit class–it doesn’t make much sense to have the space divided.
Right by the entrance, there were bleachers for us to put our stuff on while we worked out. Off to the side were some miscellaneous squat racks and pull-up bars. The whole middle was open except for a board with the daily workout posted.
Right at noon, the teacher, Spencer, assembled the class. I was excited and ready to learn! He told us what we would be doing for our workout that day, and everybody else ran off to assemble their equipment while I stood there, grinning like an idiot. Luckily, I was not the only newbie. There were about four of us, and Spencer kept us corralled like a flock of sheep.
The whole class, Spencer was very patient and kind. He checked my form and corrected me often. I always felt very safe, and that’s a true testament to Spencer’s skill as a teacher because I know he was watching everyone else just as carefully and making sure they were safe as well. Teaching a group of new people weightlifting technique is probably one of my top nightmares. So much can go wrong in such a short amount of time.
Luckily for me, nothing went wrong. I did the warm-up and thought, “Ooo, this feels nice. I’m glad I’m back!”
Then, we worked on our strength, and I learned form for squats. While I was squatting, I thought, “Man, I feel so strong and stable! This is great!”
After our squats, my experience changed significantly. We had 20 minutes or so to do a series of activities. The point was to complete the activities in the best time possible. I can’t completely remember what we were supposed to do, but I remember we had to hang from a bar and bring our knees up to our chests. “No problem,” I thought. “I got this.”
Then It All Went South
That was inaccurate. I did not, in fact, have this. Carefully and mindfully, I moved through the exercises. Because that’s how yoga instructors operate–carefully and mindfully. Incidentally, that is not how CrossFitters operate. Everyone around me was rushing, and I was breathing and taking the time to feel my muscles work.
In my enjoyment of the process, I completely lost track of what I was supposed to be doing. Despite having the sequence written on the board, I forgot the order of the exercises. I’m pretty sure that I only did exercises that were in the sequence, but really, I don’t know.
Time ran out, and Spencer came over to record how I had done. When I told him what I had gotten done, he got a really confused look on his face. This was my first clue that I had messed up. When he pulled out his calculator app on his phone, I was certain I had messed up.
He calculated my numbers, and I grabbed my now empty water bottle. I felt good, like I had accomplished something difficult. With keys in hand, I confidently walked to my car. I got in and knew I had a problem.
After several deep breaths and a couple mental pep talks, I was finally able to lift my hands to the steering wheel. My shoulders were shot, and my arms shook as my hands gripped the steering wheel. As I slid my hands down to the 5 and 7 position, I realized it was going to be a long, awkward drive home.
The Following Days
The days after my workout proved to be just as challenging. I figure that since I was so sore so soon, I wouldn’t be as sore the next day. That was false. I was, in fact, even more sore Saturday than I was post-workout on Friday.
My extreme all-over muscle aches felt like a really bad case of the flu. I took Tylenol and did my best to keep moving. Aside from the horrible pain on Saturday, my body felt better each day.
I had never had such an extended recovery period from a workout, and I wasn’t sure I liked it. But surely I wouldn’t hurt so bad next time, right? It was probably Wednesday when I felt fully recovered. Just in time for my Friday workout!
How did your first CrossFit class go? Let us know in the comments.
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