I’ve (Secretly) Converted to CrossFit

I’ll admit it—I’ve been keeping a secret. It’ not like I’m ashamed of it or anything. It’s just that I didn’t want to go public with my new obsession until I was sure that I wanted to make it last. By now, I’m close to categorically certain that this fledgling fascination I’ve been flirting with is going to become a near-permanent part of my life, so it’s time to announce it to the world:

I quit my gym membership. Because CrossFit changed my life.

Until I discovered CrossFit, I was the poster child for Skinny Fat Syndrome. I was a certifiable cardio addict. I would drag myself to Equinox several times a week for five-mile runs on the treadmill or spinning classes, and I wasted the better part of my early 20s running not one, but four Chicago Marathons. I also attempted to eat as little as possible (which was incredibly difficult because the compulsive running made me ravenously hungry every waking hour). My weight was extremely low, but I had zero muscle. So I’m assuming that my body composition was not much more than skin, fat, and bones. In other words, I was an incredibly skinny fat person. I looked great in my size 26 legging jeans, but I hated wearing bikinis because jiggly, non-solid flab looks gross, even on an otherwise thin person.

But at the time, I didn’t really think there was anything I should have been doing differently. All of the hottest-looking, and therefore most intimidating and jealousy-inducing, girls at Equinox were faithful cardio devotees who appeared to subsist mostly on Starbucks, Diet Coke, and Kashi cereal. I was mirroring those habits, so I figured that the skinny flabbiness was just a biological fact of life I needed to learn to deal with.

And, although I absolutely dreaded going to Equinox — I hated the smug silent atmosphere, the attractive but often useless trainers who pranced around conveying an air of exclusive superiority, the lululemon-clad socialite-esque gorgeous girls nonchalantly flipping through Us Magazines on the ellipticals, and the awful dumb-looking guys making faces at themselves in the mirror and trolling for girls while using those stupid cable crossover machines — I didn’t think there were any other legitimate options.

But that’s when I discovered CrossFit. Oddly enough, it was my mom who recommended that I try it, because one of her friends urged her into enrolling in a CrossFit 101 program at a box in Cincinnati, and when she finished 101, she was hooked.

I was skeptical at first, though (hence the reason for my initial secretiveness). Sure, the workouts were a hell of a lot more enjoyable — not to mention took less time — than running five miles on a treadmill. And I knew immediately that the workouts are more effective than my cardio compulsion, because I’m always sore for a day or two afterward. So my skepticism wasn’t that I thought CrossFit wasn’t effective. The problem was, I was afraid it would be too effective. Somehow, I had absorbed some sort of tacit belief that heavy squats, or really anything involving barbells, would make me bulky. Looking back on it, my flawed logic makes me laugh (and makes me a little bit sad) because I wanted muscle. I knew the reason I looked like crap in a bikini was due to my lack of muscle. So I don’t quite understand why I thought that there were only two body types available to me: (1) skinny fat with no muscle; or (2) not fat with big bulky muscles. I don’t really know why I concluded that there wouldn’t be a mid-range option of not fat with non-bulky muscle (although maybe I was just scared of working hard and trying movements where I risked looking stupid and couldn’t hide behind the predictable safety of the treadmill). I like to think that one of the (very few) benefits of law school was that it strengthened my logical reasoning skills, but I guess that didn’t extend to pondering fitness outcomes. I decided to keep doing CrossFit in secret, and I vowed quit immediately if and when I noticed any telltale signs of bulkiness, such as my jeans getting tight in the thighs, or the emergence of lats.

Somehow, though — perhaps even magically — the bulk never appeared. I went from not even being able to do one air squat properly to being able to do a 75-lb. back squat, and I still fit in the same jeans but now I actually look good in a bikini, too. Even better, I’ve stopped being so freaking preoccupied with the way my body looks because I’m starting to focus my excitement on what my body can do. I’ll admit that I’ve noticed some evidence of lats, but I haven’t panicked because I know I’m that much closer to being able to do an unassisted pullup.

Oh, and did I mention that I actually enjoy going to my CrossFit box every day? Everyone is so positive and encouraging, and I’ve never once gotten that weird, smug vibe that was so pervasive at my Equinox. There’s also an awesome lack of lawyers there, which means I often find myself in conversations about real life and interesting things.

Of course, I’ve also discovered something else about CrossFit that the desperate single girl in me loves — guys that do CrossFit are ridiculously hot. After spending years inwardly gagging at poser meatheads grunting while doing cable crossovers, it’s amazing to be working out in an environment surrounded by guys who are attractive and who I would actually like to hang out with. This will sound weird to the uninitiated, but I’ve developed some serious crushes on guys wearing striped knee socks after watching them do burpee pullups.

So that’s that. I’m hooked on CrossFit (maybe even for life), so much so that I cancelled my Equinox membership, and I’m no longer contemplating an exit strategy based on irrational fears of bulkiness. It’s time to go public with it. Hopefully, my next announcement will be that I’ve had a few amazing first dates with a CrossFitter.

Post image via Shutterstock.

Law Firm 10 may lack the dazzling, magnetic charisma of a girl from the hottest sorority in school, but she (arguably) makes up for that with her wit, humor, and low-maintenance-ness. Read more from Law Firm 10.

14 Comments

  1. Bob

    November 14, 2012 at 11:32 am

    Translation: me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me

    • Louis

      November 14, 2012 at 2:35 pm

      You’re right. I don’t want anyone who’s so self centered. Isn’t there a decent broad that want’s to have me over for Thankgsgiving dinner? Where are those women when we need them?

  2. Mean Partner

    November 15, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    If the photo is real, she is now LF 12, and more than a match for Paula Broadwell.

  3. Bob

    November 16, 2012 at 8:39 am

    The photo is of a sinewy she-male. There’s no hip to waist ratio and the overly defined abs are a turn-off. She’s built like a JV wide receiver. The problem is rampant female obesity which in our society has elevated the value of any slender woman, even hard masculine ones like in the picture.

  4. Mean Partner

    November 16, 2012 at 11:51 am

    …er. yes, OK, but I think you’re just afraid of her, you big sissy. Her “hip to waist ratio” aside, better to be slim that wide in the hip area, since most women trend to a Piterbilt wideness.

  5. Lorne

    November 16, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    With many women lawyer’s being like wilderbeasts, can you blame this schnook for playing with himself?

  6. Chris

    November 16, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    Honestly, Crossfit is dumb and sort of dangerous. Olympic lifting isn’t meant to be done until failure. It’s stupid and dangerous and real athletes don’t train Crossfit. They don’t do this because it will result in injuries which will take time away from real training that they need to be doing. The only thing crossfit is good for is training for crossfit games. Frankly, I think it’s a fad that will be gone in a few years. If you want the results you seek, do some strength training, have at least one ‘power’ day where you train lifts that will shock your CNS and cut down on the stairmaster. HIIT training for 20 minutes or less will help.
    That said, good luck, and I hope you don’t get injured.

    • Pow!

      March 7, 2013 at 7:44 am

      The only thing that is dumb and dangerous is when uninformed people like you, Chris, make broad generalizations without setting foot in a CrossFit box, speaking to a coach, or learning about the philosophy and methodology. Get some facts and try a WOD with a good coach.

    • Mark

      April 7, 2014 at 12:22 pm

      I find it funny that you said Olympic lifting isn’t meant to be done until failure. Who says, just because you only see Olympic lifters training for a one lift max or for brute strength. You are more butt hurt about the fact that crossfit uses Olympic lifts, how dare they right. There are many types of strenghth just as there are many methods to achive that type of strength. You do realize that the only dangerous aspect of Olympic lifting until failure is the break in form that can happen and that can happen in virtually any lifting exercise even on machines in a gym you can still use crappy form, lifting weight that is too heavy and hurt yourself. Olympic lifting by definition didn’t invent their movements either. I bet you didn’t know that Olympic lifting mimics the exact same movements that children do when they bend down to pick something up. They usually squat down with their backs straight and they do it over and over without injury. Some even do it until failure. Is that a bad thing, no not if your using good form. Are these kids doing the form of Olympic lifts, sorry to burst your Olympic lifting bubble you find yourself in but yes they are. So the problem is not that cross fit does Olympic lifting until failure its when its done where form breaks down that you can actually get hurt. That can be controlled by proper coaching and lifting discipline And the fact that some people like you want to keep certain movements like Olympic lifts in a more comfortable place in their minds so they don’t feel threatened by something new that goes against the grain proves that your argument is purely based on your emotions and not factually based. Thanks for playing.

  7. Joe

    November 19, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    Echoing Chris, yeah, Crossfit’s exercise programming leaves a lot to be desired. I have two friends who were healthy, active athletic people who now have back injuries from Crossfit. They do some things right, like selecting big lifts and programming more intensity than most programs, but the big con, that their workouts will eventually injure you, far outweigh the pros. There are better workouts available.

    One of the silliest Crossfit workouts I have seen was supersetting sprints on an erg (rowing machine) with high rep power cleans, which for a decent rower, would exhaust the spinal erectors prior to the cleans (and then in between sets of cleans).

    I would even dispute that this type of training is good for the Crossfit Games. You don’t actually know how those people are training and, the last I heard, they didn’t drug test at all. You and I don’t know whether they are on a ten day structured workout plan and a stack of steroids and other performance enhancing drugs.

  8. Steven Kordisch

    November 22, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    So here’s the deal: love the post and I can understand the negative comments/observations … I’m over 50 and doing Crossfit for little over a year… Did I have some minor injuries? Absolutely – would it have been worse if I didn’t listen to my body? YES .. Do I know any other attorneys doing it ? Yes, only 2 , and they’re in my CF box in Long Beach NY …(in fact my NYSBar General Practice global email inquiry for any other CFers resulted in No admissions, but plenty critical comments) … But if you are someone with a positive attitude and a willingness to tap into your unexplored potential, CF is just about the most comprehensive opportunity to improve your overall fitness and diet awareness (translation = you will look better and feel better, have more energy, better sleep, and feel like a superhero when you finished a workout that plain scared the @&;} out of you when you first saw it on the board). Yes, doing a 6AM workout leaves me feeling “shot out of a cannon” sometimes … Not a terribly bad start to one’s day if your goal is to accomplish a few things!
    Does this translate well to my practice? Absolutely … I view challenges as opportunities in all the spheres of my life – because You Can Be Better Than Yesterday (just sayin)
    Have I stopped just talking to everybody about CF ? Pretty Much …
    Would I like to speak to other lawyers who do CF because there’s a lot of common ground, and potential to share thoughts on improving our practices and legal lifestyles ? You bet.
    One last thing : CF gyms foster a special type of “community” among its members … We encourage and support each other and slap each other on the back and fist punch and high five and laugh together (probably because we are engaging in a sort of “play” activity that leaves us wondering how did we just do that last thing? Six or more months ago, that “thing” was impossible … And now I just obliterated a limitation I held onto in my mind … Oh well, show us the next challenge … Wishing you all a Happy Thanksgiving Steve K

  9. Scan

    November 24, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    Full disclosure: I own a CF box and love what I do.

    Chris – You’re right. Olympic lifting isn’t meant to be done until failure and is dangerous. It is also the most efficient way to shock the CNS. When discussing olympic lifting to failure you might be talking about a workout like “Randy,” which is 75 reps of snatch at 75 lbs. Keep in mind, 75 lbs is the prescribed weight for more experienced and elite athletes. 75 lbs is somewhere around 30% of their 1 rep max. 75 repetitions at 30% of a 1 RM is far from olympic lifting to failure. Heavier oly lifting rep schemes look more like 3-3-2-2-1. You recommended programs that “have at least one ‘power’ day where you train lifts that will shock your CNS and cut down on the stairmaster. HIIT training for 20 minutes or less will help.” Good CF programs involve hormonal adaptations in all metabolic pathways including strength, power, shorter high intensity time domains and “chippers” (~20 min HIIT). These are deliberately programmed weekly and in quarterly cycles (in good gyms, that is)

    Joe – I’ve seen an athlete get a slap tear in his bicep from doing too many pull ups and too much weight and have had another athlete injure his elbow from doing more weight than recommended by his trainer. I’ve also had many, many more athletes come off of blood pressure medication, insulin, can pick up their kids, rehab previous knee injuries, put their marriage back together, remodel their house, start new careers later in life and have a general better outlook on life–to all of which they credited CrossFit.

    Superset row & power cleans is a ridiculous workout. This would never be programmed at my box. They do drug test at the CF games. Two teams were DQ’d this year.

    You’ve described the worst parts of the “sport.” NFL players have permanent brain damage due to head trauma. Should I take my son off the pee wee team? Good boxes, like good businesses, attempt to mitigate the worst parts of their industry. I can guarantee that there are far more success stories than ridiculous antics and injuries in the history of CrossFit.

    • Steve k

      November 26, 2012 at 9:33 pm

      Well said Scan, and glad to see your even tempered comment on CF. …good luck

  10. GURLS?

    April 9, 2014 at 7:29 pm

    Crossfit makes it ok for women to deadlift. I find it hilarious that womens equality has somehow been assisted by a man that suggests to her wife that she should just die when she got ill. Keep your affiliation with crossfit a secret, it’s not the only skeleton in that closet.

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