It's that time of year when the gyms are packed with new members working on that New Year's resolution to finally get in shape, lose a few pounds or just be healthier.
I'm not big on making resolutions, but late last year I found myself growing bored with my fitness routine. I was hitting a plateau, getting bored easily and losing motivation. I needed to shake things up. I resolved to find something new, and soon.
Ryan Shupe, owner and instructor at CrossFit Seven in Fort Worth, felt the same way just a few years ago. A former college and professional tennis player, Shupe dabbled in several fitness routines before his quest for something new prompted him to do a Google search. "I think I literally searched 'insane workout' and found a video of people doing CrossFit," he said.
An insane workout - not exactly what first came to my mind when I thought about changing my routine. I first heard about CrossFit more than a year ago. I was sitting on the patio at Winslow's, enjoying a glass of wine outdoors before the unbearable annual heat wave came in. A woman who I guessed to be her early 40s walked outside, and I couldn't help but notice what great shape she was in. I felt compelled to tell her that, and ask her how she did it. Her answer: CrossFit. More specifically, CrossFit Seven. Three times a week for less than 30 minutes at a time, and that's it.
I thought about that conversation a lot over the next several months, though it took me until just recently to do any research. CrossFit was developed over several decades by a man named Greg Glassman. With the main goal of creating peak fitness, CrossFit is a mixture of several sports and physical activities. As Ryan explained, "Who are the fastest runners? The 400 to 800 meter sprinters. Who are the strongest people? Weight lifters. Who are the best at building strength with their own body weight? Gymnasts. CrossFit takes the best parts of many activities and puts them together for one, effective workout." CrossFit does not focus on any one thing. In fact, what's special about it is that it does not specialize.
Once I did my research, I knew I wanted to try CrossFit. I was also terrified. It looked really hard. I wasn't sure I was ready to find out that I was actually out of shape when I'd worked so hard to get to where I was. The people in the videos were extremely muscular acrobats, as far as I was concerned. But it was time to suck it up. I decided to attend a class on Christmas Eve at CrossFit Seven.
I bundled up and headed over to the warehouse area just north of the West Seventh district for my first class. When I walked into the gym, I saw about 15 to 20 people, some standing around waiting to be given instruction, others warming up on the row machines. Many looked really fit, others just looked like "normal" people. The gym itself was pretty chilly (the weather had finally decided to cool off), and it didn't have the warm, friendly vibe that I'm used to at my gym. There were mats covering much of the concrete floor. Kettlebells, bars and barbell plates lined the perimeter of the room, along with rowing machines, different sizes of wooden boxes, and ropes hanging from the ceiling. Looking around, I did my best to suppress the sense of intimidation I could feel creeping in.
Shupe was teaching the class, and right at 9 a.m. he moved to the whiteboard near the door and went over the Workout of the Day, or WOD. He explained that you could choose one of two workouts - an easier one for those newer to CrossFit, and a more advanced one for experienced participants.
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