A year and few months ago, after around 20 years of doing body building and normal weight lifting exercise, and hearing much about Crossfit, I decided to give it a try. Especially that a new box opened close to my house in business bay, and I wasn’t very excited about my usual training at the gym I was going to.
In my mind, I thought it will help me lose weight, although it wasn’t a key point the trainer highlighted when I first went to check the box. I think he said something about the overall fitness improvement across all metrics, which is something I understand now.
At the beginning I didn’t really get it, and was worried about losing the muscle bulk I developed over the years. But I was motivated, as I wanted to “shape up” and tone. And for few months, I was wondering if I should quit or not. On one hand, the daily training sessions “WODs” (work out of the day in Crossfit terms) were pretty challenging for me and on the other hand I didn’t know how often I should train or what I should eat. I first approached it with a long time weight lifter mentality, only to realize that I don’t have the capacity of lifting heavy weights and maintain the speed and repetitions required in those exercises. I learnt my own body limitations from the lack of mobility in my shoulders and I understood that I need time to learn the skills required to compete in this sport. It needs practice. It needs patience. And it needs one to develop the capacity to tolerate painful high intensity prolonged workouts.
Few months along the line, I came to realize that my muscle bulk and heavy weight act against me as they require much blood pump that my heart needs to adjust to and match. I find myself dropping weights and do the bare minimum required for the WOD, in favor of completing it with a good shape and performance. The bodybuilding mentality of adding weights and doing 3 sets of 10 repetitions don’t work here. And I needed to learn what works.
Struggling to keep up in the box with my fellow crossfitters, naturally I looked into supplements to help me cope with these tough training. I wasn’t sure if the regular approach I used to do for bodybuilding applies here, and I don’t think it does. There is no easy increase of your protein intake to bulk up or cut on your carbs to shred. And now after more than a year, I don’t know if I have figured it out. I still feed protein shakes help, but not in the same level of what I used to feel. Sometimes I feel they are useless or irrelevant, I don’t really know. I stopped taking creatine when I started doing crossfit, but started again last week, and I think it helps. One thing that I came to realize its importance, is a supplement that helps one sleep at night. I mean with the pain and tiresome of the WOD, I find myself struggling at night moving from side to side, unable to have a good rest. Recently I have been countering this with two pills of Panadol, but I think a better approach would be supplementing with Magnesium. Maybe ZMA would be great for this, and might prove to be the best supplement to help in crossfit.
I know this post feels like bitching about this sport till now, but I have to admit that I came to enjoy it a lot. It is a great sport because you learn and improve with time. I am not big on competing or in challenging myself to perform as I am still struggling with the standard levels, but I was so happy to learn to do handstands (at the wall for now), and happier to do my first handstand pushup (which still needs improvement too). I remember the excitement of raising learning to jump higher on the box with added plates. And I am excited about the potential of doing a muscle-up! I feel that it is coming soon as my chest to bars are becoming easier, and I am raising myself higher.
Of-course, all of my improvements won’t have happened without the support of the professional trainers at the box. I just love their reactions when someone does a skill right! It makes you feel that they actually care and that your learning makes them happy. And here I would like to thank them all, especially Fill and Palo, but also Rachel, Laura and Bron. They really make all the difference. And I would like to stress how highly I recommend Goldbox Crossfit at Bay Square in Business Bay. If you happen to live in the area, then give it a try. You will thank me a year later!
PS: Photo Credit for the cover image and first image for Rami Al Nabulsi, a fellow crossfitter!