I Tried CrossFit...Here's What I Thought

By Takia McClendon

I've been going back-and-forth about signing up for CrossFit for a few months. Like many others, I heard a lot of rumors about about the workout. Not to mention that I follow a few amazing CrossFit athletes on Instagram who make me feel like I'm not fit enough to step into a box (CrossFit gym).

Despite my fears, I knew that I should at least try CrossFit. After all, I knew that I could benefit from a functional and focused cross-training program. I also knew that in order to stay injury free, I would have to take cross-training more seriously. Plus, I know women (and a few guys) who have had success with the program so I went against my gut feeling and signed up for CrossFit Elements (basically Intro to CrossFit) at CrossFit -Center City in Philadelphia, PA. Here's how it went....

What is CrossFit Elements? The Elements program was a 2-week course (I was in an accelerated program - it's usually 3 weeks) that covered many of the movements/concepts that CrossFitters use in their daily workouts or workouts of the day (WOD). The class met Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7AM for one hour.

My class had a total of 6 participants with different fitness backgrounds. We all had different goals, body types and needs. For example, there was someone who had suffered from a serious knee injury but our coach made sure there were modifications for her to complete the workouts.

How was each workout structured? At first glance, CrossFit appears to be all weight-lifting but there's a lot more to it. In fact, we barely lifted any heavy barbells during the program. Instead, each class included Movement Prep (think warm up), a Movement Screen ( to help us measure our progress along the way), Strengthening Skills and finally, Conditioning.

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Strength-Training: Over the course of 2 weeks we covered front/back/overhead squats, the deadlift, the press/push press, box jumps, The Clean, The Snatch, and the Thruster (the last 3 were all barbell warm-ups that are used in regular CrossFit classes) and more.

Conditioning: Probably the most challenging part of the program; each class ended with a short (8 minutes or less) workout that combined movement and strengthening concepts we learned at the start of each class -- Think as many reps as possible (AMRAP) of pull ups, push ups, squats, burpees, etc.

So, what did I think? With the help of our coach, Morgan, I learned a lot in two short weeks. I started the class with very little confidence and ended with a positive attitude about cross-training and CrossFit in general.  I improved my squat form, learned to lift properly,  and was able to increase the amount of burpees I can do in 3 minutes. Yay!

Key Takeaways: I still have a lot of learning to do. The great thing about CrossFit is that all athletes are constantly working to be better than they were during their previous workout. I also realized that CrossFit (at least CrossFit - Center City) places a strong focus on educating athletes and not pushing members to go beyond their physical limits when they aren't ready. This is something that I really appreciated throughout the program.

Would I recommend CrossFit? Absolutely. I know you may think CrossFit is expensive but the cost reflects  focused personal (or small group) training by coaches who really care about your progress. Despite what you think, you ARE strong enough. CrossFit will NOT make you bulky (unless you want to be) and the environment (loud music) is not as intimidating as it seems at first glance - in fact, you appreciate it during your conditioning workout. If you are hesitant about dropping in on a class, I recommend trying out the Intro program at your local box.

Overall: I had a great experience at CrossFit - Center City. The coaches, especially Morgan, made each workout enjoyable and fulfilling. I learned a lot and would recommend CrossFit to anyone looking to build strength.

Have you ever tried CrossFit? We'd love to hear how it went in the comments below.