I’ve been doing CrossFit for a few years now, and it feels like home when I walk into the gym. But it didn’t always feel that way -far from it actually. I had heard of CrossFitters and their crazy ways long before stepping foot into a box. It seemed weird that everyone liked to compare workout scores, complain about how hard the workout was and yet brag about their most recent PR’s. And yet, they all seemed to be super-fit and always have a smile on their faces (and ok, maybe some chalk dust too). I thought – maybe there’s something to this.
My gateway to CrossFit was taking an endurance class. I thought because there were no barbells that it would be easier. I was dead wrong. I left that first class feeling like I was run over by a truck, and I told the coach, “I’m never coming back!” But after I went home, showered and ate, I got to thinking. What made that class so much more challenging than any other group fitness class I had taken before? I though I was fit, but obviously I had some serious gaps in my fitness that I had overlooked and CrossFit helped shed light on.
It’s no secret that the movements used in a CrossFit box aren’t anything special. Squats, pull ups, box jumps – these are all things I was familiar with. But it’s the certain combination of movements that makes a world of difference. Instead of doing squats in my usual anaerobic workouts, these coaches were asking me to squat lighter weight with the purpose of doing an aerobic workout now. Same movement but with the opposite training effect!
The more I went to class, the more I wanted to go. I started getting better, making friends, and learning new things about myself -like how much determination and grit I have in me when confronted with a challenge. But there was one change that I wasn’t expecting at all – and was a real shock.
What I haven’t mentioned until now is that I work as a manual sports therapist. I help athletes rehabilitate from injury and pain. I’ve been doing this for over 10 years, and like to think I have a good track record. Good enough to work with some elite athletes in town. But ironically, I had some of my own aches and imbalances that never seemed to go away despite stretching and getting the bodywork that I thought I needed. Then I met Angelo Gala, Head Coach at EDX CrossFit, who was back then working at a box in the northeast. He had me doing goblet squats, single led deadlifts, and those god awful Bulgarian split squats. He knew exactly which exercises I needed to correct my issues, and snuck them into the workouts so that I didn’t even realize until months later that I was feeling better. I sat down into a goblet squat and, holy cow! My feet were flat on the floor, toes pointing forward, narrow stance and my butt was nice and low. I was flexible! I was able to move better. My posture was better – all while getting stronger and faster.
It was this moment of sitting in the perfect bottom squat position that I realized that CrossFit had healed me. It didn’t “break” me, I never got an injury from my training. I was able to correct muscular imbalances and enter what I call Beast-Mode: the mode of movement where you’re always able to push a little harder or faster because you have the physical ability to dig deeper and ask more from your body, especially when tired – without any post-movement pain, discomfort or excessive tiredness. The key was having a great coach, and a support team of members to help push me when I felt like giving up. I just kept showing up and let the workouts do their magic.
Now, I ended up marrying that head coach, Angelo, and we’ve just opened our first box this spring. The cycle has begun anew and now we get to teach people new to CrossFit what it can do for them. If you’re a member and reading this, then you’re probably shaking your head in agreement that this stuff works because you’ve noticed a change within yourself. If you don’t know what I’m talking about yet, then what are you waiting for? Go take a class and find out!
See you at the gym,
Liliana Gala & The EDX team