exercise trends

Giving CrossFit a Shot

CrossFit... if you've heard of it, there are probably a zillion first impressions.  This photo depicts me after day one.  My first experience included eating some humble pie-- thought I was fit.  I knew after beginning that you check your pride at the door.  Just give it a chance.  

I first really heard of it about three years ago when a fellow trainer and friend was getting certified as a coach. Honestly, I just thought it was a fitness trend that would come and go. Well here we are several years later, and the "trend" hasn't gone away. CrossFit has only become more popular and many are trying it out.

For the new year, I decided I was going to try a new activity that wasn't my norm routine.  I had been feeling complacent, a little bored, unfulfilled, and needing an extra push over the last several months with my own personal workouts.  I'm a certified personal trainer, with a college education in health and fitness.  I can design my own workouts, but everyone, even professionals in the health and fitness field, need a little extra push to challenge themselves- something new and exciting.  I can't expect change if I don't change.  If I become comfortable and routine, I am never going to grow, change, and challenge myself.  I'm ever seeking growth and challenge, so I have been overdue for something different.

Now I'm a fairly stubborn individual and a tough sell.  Once I've made up my mind, I'm usually not changing it. I'm going to be honest, I've avoided CrossFit for over three years because I've had several apprehensions and concerns.  This past week I gave it a shot and already my concerns have been put at ease. Here were three of my reasons for avoiding it:

1. High possibility of injuries- I'm big on injury prevention and form is important to me. There are many high intensity, complex moves in CrossFit that require a high amount of skill and can amount in injury if not properly taught.

In talking with others that have tried CrossFit, the key things I was hearing was "it was great, but my back kept bothering me." "My shoulder really took some damage..." Red flags were going up as I'm not willing to give something a try if I cannot count on fitness professionals to be educated enough to teach proper skills and be able to identify and spot proper technique. 

2. This is for the elite or just plain crazy peeps- After getting a glimpse of the type of activity that CrossFit is (varied, hard core, extreme intensity), I really felt it was best suited for people that were maybe elite fitness, military, law enforcement, or firefighters.  It didn't appear to transfer to the everyday person in everyday, functional activities.  Yeah I like crazy, but this looked a little too extreme.

3. I don't want to look like a She-Beast- I love a hard core, challenging activity, but the few gals I had seen and associated with CrossFit were not a body type I strived for. Yes, as females, body type and image can bug us and consume us.  I mean She-Ra was a favorite cartoon of mine as a kid probably because she was the "Princess of Power," but she was also the twin sister of He-Man and he was a beast! (yes, I just totally dated myself)

I am amazed in just a short period of time of trying out this CrossFit Box, how my concerns have been put at ease.  I have to admit, I was just wrong in my assumptions.  These are the reasons why I am loving this activity:

First, injuries can occur in any fitness activity.  This I know, but I have been pleasantly surprised at the level of expertise, knowledge, and professionalism of the coaches.  Like I said, I am a tough sell.  I believe it is key to do your own research to make sure coaches, trainers, and facilities are certified and educated in whichever fitness arena you choose. Make sure they have professional education in fitness and experience in teaching others. The coaches at CrossFit Loomis are big on form, and breaking down the process/steps to make sure individuals are properly executing the complex moves so we avoid injury.

Second, I run a little crazy! I get easily bored with workouts and like a good challenge. I have to admit though, I WAS a smidge intimidated of CrossFit.  I know, don't be scurred! I don't get intimidated by much, but this is a pride thing and these really do look like crazy peeps! (have you seen the CrossFit games on ESPN2?) I kept coming back to- the same old routine gets old real quick for me.  Right now, if I had to hop on a treadmill again, I may have to poke my eyes out and hack off my feet... The last few months have been driving me a little nutty. Time for a crazy change!

CrossFit appeals to my ultra competitive psyche.  Although I am competitive, I am also looking to be more efficient at workouts so I can spend more time doing daily, functional activities that occur in everyday life!  I am getting older and don't want to spend hours at the gym pounding on my body as I'm not going to be able to maintain that long term as much as I tell myself I could.  My body starts breaking down if I pound too much and doesn't want to cooperate the way my mind tells it ha, ha!  

CrossFit is training for functional movement-- squatting, lifting, reaching, bending, playing with kids... I can see how all the CrossFit exercises, albeit LOOK CRAAAZZZY, carry over from a biomechanical, functional standpoint for everyday activities.

CrossFit works for anyone, any level.  All workouts can be modified to a level that best works for you.  It is always varied; always challenging your body in new ways. I also love that the "work" part of the workout is about 15-20 minutes of just all out intensity.  Go hard for a short period of time and you are WIPED for the day (reference above picture).  You can work at any level of crazy, or not so crazy that you want!

Third, I honestly don't know if I'll look like a beast... Too soon to tell, but I'm hoping I have genetics on my side and hopefully I'll be a lean machine.  The workouts are so amazing and challenging, that I am enjoying the way I feel right now and that is fabulous!

Fourth, the community and people of CrossFit are so positive and encouraging!  There are very few gyms, classes, and fitness groups that I have been a part of that are so supportive of each other.  It really put things in perspective for me as my recent experience lacked encouragement, positive support, and just a push in a way that I needed to be challenged. I'm really independent and don't mind doing my thang' when it comes to fitness, but I could always use positive support or a push from others. It's motivating and encouraging.  That has been such an absent component lately and I didn't realize it until starting CrossFit.

I still am wondering what took me so long to give CrossFit a chance. My stubbornness got in the way and I needed to find the right BOX that would be a good fit for me. CrossFit Loomis has been a great fit and I'm so glad I started at this new location as they grow and build.

PS this is fun, exciting, and scary all at once!  What are you waiting for?

Check out CrossFit Loomis if you are interested in giving it a try at www.CrossFitLoomis.com or find them on Facebook HERE.



That Barefoot Thing

So many of you have probably taken a gander and noticed some people wearing those interesting looking web footed shoe things...  Yeah, I'm talking the Vibram thingies, and you've probably been curious once you've spotted them and asked "what the...??".  Recently, I drove by a gal that, bless her heart, was out engaging in outdoor physical activity and jogging along a trail.  I glanced down and cringed as I noticed two things: 1. she was jogging on the concrete in her Vibram shoe thingies and 2. she was an overweight individual...  The combination of those two truly concerns me as it is just asking for an injury to occur.

The barefoot trend has yet to take off, but I do notice more jumping on the train and I have some serious concerns with this trend.  Now some of you are true barefoot or minimalist shoe patriots so excuse me if I offend you, but I think many really need to get some other perspectives so they can make their own informed decisions regarding these trends. 

First, I must say there are certain activities where the barefoot trend could truly be necessary or a reasonable part of the activity.  Those activities may include things like ballet, barre, zumba, yoga, rock climbing, organ playing... (ha, ha one of my college professors used to wear his itty bitty tiny 'minimalist' shoes to fit on the pedals).  Barefoot trend? Ok, I get it with these activities.  For the majority of other activities, it just doesn't make sense and I see many injuries just waiting to happen.

So what is my rationale for the injury potential?  The majority of the US population did not grow up going about our activities barefoot.  It's called systematic adaptation response.  The human body adapts to the environment where it lives.  If you grew up in a country or environment where walking around barefoot was common place, your body would build up calluses and your muscles and bones would adapt to this kind of activity.  The majority of us have spent our life or the last 30, 40+ years in shoes, therefore with barefoot activity, our body has not adapted to exercise in that fashion.  Notice picture below: A Kenyan Masai tribe member wearing his running shoes that are made of rubber tires... This individual grew up barefoot and is adapting with a 'product' that works for his environment.

Another example is for the women out there that have spent years living in their high heeled shoes. There have been several studies that show continued wearing of high heels shortens the muscle fibers and the achilles tendon becomes thicker.  This can impede athletic performance because one may not get a full range of motion and elasticity through the muscle contraction. Thus, an example of adaptation response.  Your body adapts to that repeated kind of environment.

Since our bodies are not adapted to this kind of environment with activity barefoot, there are a whole slew of injuries that potentially could occur including: plantar fasciitis, achilles tendonitis, bone spurs, joint injuries in knees, hip, and back; for those that are overweight, the injury potential greatly increases.

We are not living in the cavemen era as they didn't have the technology to have great shoes. Proper shoes are critical for INTENSE exercise and it is important to invest in your shoes. There is some validity and good rationale for many of us to learn proper, natural running form, and to learn to be more accustomed to landing on the ball of our feet/forefoot, instead of heel striking, but one needs to educate themselves on the proper form and ease into that adjustment. If you want to try the trend out or just want to adjust your form, then easing into this is best so that your body can build strength in your calf and foot muscles. 

If the barefoot trend has worked for you, then by all means, enjoy your activity.  I encourage all to educate themselves and be aware of the injury potential that could come from this if not properly introduced and executed.

Let me know your thoughts! 



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