I’m not one to like brutal and grotesque (read: bloody and highly graphic kill scenes) films, but I’d have to say 300 is a movie that I don’t mind watching over and over again with my husband. In fact he liked it so much he did some research and discovered the You Tube videos of the actors training as a unit. That’s when I first heard about CrossFit (although they say that it wasn’t strictly so as Trainor Mark Twight put his own spin to it).
I next heard about it when a friend of ours from the States, Miggy Dy-Buncio told us he was headed back to Manila where he and his partners would put up “boxes” (a term they use to call the workout space – because it is literally shaped like a box) for CrossFit. And from the information we’d gathered, I was under the impression that I’d be in over my head if I tried it.
In fact if you google “What is CrossFit?”, this is the first paragraph that pops up:
CrossFit is the principal strength and conditioning program for many police academies and tactical operations teams, military special operations units, champion martial artists, and hundreds of other elite and professional athletes worldwide.
Nonetheless, I won’t deny I was intrigued. And challenged by the idea of trying something that was beyond what I knew I could normally do.
By the time we got back, CrossFit seemed to be the buzz word around town. Friends were (are) addicted to it. Tracking their regular progress occasionally over social media, the results were nothing short of impressive. So I was definitely curious. And when it comes to my exercise routine I’m willing to try pretty much anything that will help get me back in shape. It’s been two and a half years and the excuse “I just gave birth” doesn’t hold up anymore (shame on me for even trying to use it still right?!).
Then that fateful day came when my cousin-in-law Ann Uy and I found each other on Facebook and she offered the #SoMoms a “CrossFit Challenge” in their newly opened branch in Kapitolyo. So after a few exchanges back and forth, we found a date and six of us brave souls trekked over to “the box”. There we first met Coaches Mike and Matt, and also a few regular goers.
Coach Matt gave us a run down of how things would work for the day. We learned terms like WOD (Workout of the Day), and AMRAP (As Many Reps As Possible). I’ll skip ahead to another favorite term I learned which they call “to failure” — referring to your muscles when they can do no more. Hmm!
But going back, essentially the WOD can run anywhere from 15 mins to about 30 mins. It depends on the strengthening or conditioning exercises set for the day, and no WOD is the same. The rest of the time is used to warm up, to “practice” the exercises and get the technique right, and then of course to cool down.
So this is what we looked like on our first day:
And this was us after a WOD that required us to complete as many sets of 100 jump ropes and 15 Wall Balls in 15 minutes.
Okay. So we weren’t as physically fit as we thought. Don’t even ask how many AMRAPS we were each able to complete (if any at all). And the next day was a hilarity of pain. We all couldn’t walk straight.
But I then discovered that this is a normal scenario when you first try CrossFit. And of the few people I talked to after that work out, all of them said the same thing: The key is to go back.
So a few of us did, several more times.
And I can honestly say that I felt I got progressively stronger as the weeks went by. I had better endurance and more energy to last me throughout the day. It was a happy kind of tired after every work out. And my muscles ached less (Ann let me try the Fish Oil that they sell at CrossFit Kapitolyo. One teaspoon a day helps minimize body pain, and it helps suppress appetite too!). I also ate better. Coach Mike advised us to increase our proteins and decrease the sugar in the diet.
Here are some of the things I learned on this CrossFit journey. Hopefully it comes in handy for you should you decide to try it out:
Commit to the workout. As I was told, the key is to come back. Even if the first week seems hard and painful, half the battle is showing up again and again — for at least three weeks. For CrossFit to be “effective”, Coach Matt says it’s best to come at least 2 – 3 times per week. The body recovers faster, and you adjust to the work outs better as well. And besides, the fastest way to get rid of the pain is to work the muscles.
Talk to the coaches. While the WOD is never the same, everyone in the box has to do the exact same work-out. The nice thing about it is that it’s easily scalable and can be modified to one’s physical needs and conditions. You just have to communicate it to them. I for instance, have a bad back, and my Chiropractor advised against dead-lifts. When I saw this as part of a WOD, I immediately asked Coach Mike for an alternative. Similarly, we had a WOD that called for Kettle bells, the lightest one of which was too heavy for me (I’d never in my life carried a Kettle Bell before!). So I was given a weight ball instead. I still got a good workout no doubt!
Make your benchmark yourself, and no one else. It’s tempting to watch and try to match the pace, the weights, and the intensity of those around you, but that only puts you at risk for more injuries. One of the reasons we exercise is to become better versions of ourselves and not of others. So push yourself only to improve from your last benchmark, and build up gradually. It’s really about going at your own pace, pushing hard, and knowing where to draw the line.
Master the technique. Form is most important, and the coaches at Kapitolyo make sure of that. They’re quick to correct, give tips and help you do it better. The correct form gets you the maximum benefit from that movement even if you start out slow. As with all things, it becomes second nature over time.
Build friendships. Exercise is more enjoyable and more tolerable when you do it with friends. You’re there to support each other through and pat each other for coming out alive after. I made some new friends too, and it really felt like I became a part of the CrossFit community.
I now understand how CrossFit can be addicting. In fact at one point, I felt that my body was looking for it. It was a good experience, and I definitely learned a lot more about myself too. I know I’m going back to the box soon. See you there? 🙂
Coach Ann at CrossFit Kaptiolyo also offers CrossFit Kids, every Saturday at 1PM. The program is open for kids ages 6-12, and it’s meant to build their stamina, endurance, strength, coordination, flexibility, teamwork and self-esteem. The kids in the program are awesome! You should see them!
Follow Crossfit Kapitolyo on Instagram: @cfkapitolyo.