Updated: Apr 1, 2019
Dr. Lisa Goodman, DC, CCSP
Gotta back up a bit here...I skipped ahead in both my blogs and my Crossfit progression. Ideally an athlete new to Crossfit should do the “fundamentals” class either before attending a workout or shortly after attending your first workout. I attended about 6 WODs (Workout of the Day) prior to attending the 2 hour fundamentals class at Crossfit Wash Park. Although you can learn most of the lifts in an as-you-go fashion, it turns out the fundamentals class covered a lot more than just the lifts.
Learning to Crossfit seemed extremely daunting to me. Partly because most of what I have seen friends post on social media is a short clip of them achieving a PR (personal record). So after years of watching short video clips of friends back squatting 200lbs or snatching 100lbs or doing 10 chest to bar pullups in a row or their first muscle-up, it seemed more than a little unrealistic that I’d ever be the one posting the videos. For the record, three weeks into Crossfit, I have not posted a video (yet). Prior to making any attempt at a PR, you have to walk into a Crossfit gym. Crossfit gyms are notoriously welcoming, but that doesn’t make it any less nerve wracking to step foot inside one. So a few hints on attending your first WOD...
Contact the gym owner first and give a heads up that you are new. The gym owner will likely have recommendations on which class to attend and/or whether you should do a fundamentals class first
Go to a ‘free’ class. Many times these will be on the weekend and are intended to welcome prospective members.
Go with a friend. Either a friend who is already a gym member or someone who is new just like you.
Just go - within seconds someone in the gym will notice that you’re new and will show you the way.
Ok, so back to learning to Crossfit. What I found in my first 6 WODs is that there is always something in the workout that I could already do (rowing, box jumps, kettlebell swings, burpees, planks, biking, etc) and there were definitely parts of the WODs that I had certainly never done before (pullups, front squat, double unders, hollow rocks, toes to bar, pretty much all of the olympic lifts, etc.). What I discovered is that a good amount of time is spent going over the WOD and practicing each move before it starts. At that point I was able to decide with the help of the coach if I should participate in the WOD as written, or if I should edit it until I was more proficient. I’ll be honest, I haven’t edited many workouts, but I have scaled the weight or technique. Some other newcomers who started Crossfit around the same time I did, have edited some of their workouts. What is scaling? Scaling means finding a way to complete the maneuver in a way that will eventually help you do the maneuver. So rather than replace a pull up because you don’t have the technique or strength to do one, you can scale it by adding some bands to support your body weight. Another example is rather than doing a power squat clean with a barbell you can do it with a medicine ball, again, you are learning the same technique and eventually when confidence is improved, you’ll be under the bar! My advice, it is much better to scale and attempt the workout as written, because it was written that way for a reason. There are always reasons to edit a move out of a workout if there is an injury or technique issue of course.
So what about the Fundamentals? Anytime you are making an important decision, starting a new routine, new eating habits or a new workout, most of us want to understand why it makes sense. It is extremely important with fitness and nutrition. During the fundamentals class at Crossfit Wash Park the WHY is covered in detail. If you have questions about some of the misconceptions of Crossfit, they are all addressed in fundamentals. I don’t want to give anything away, because Ethan does such a phenomenal job of tying everything together, but I’ll some of my favorite parts of fundamentals included nutrition, olympic lift tutorials (starting with a PVC bar), a mini WOD in the middle (5 minutes EMOM 10 kettlebell swings + burpees) and establishing your starting point. For example we all tried pullups and figured out how many bands we’d need to help us get chin over the bar, we all tried back squats and Ethan helped us choose a good weight, we did a 500 meter row to document our starting time (1:55 in case you were wondering). By the way, if you don’t know what an EMOM workout is, neither did I. There are countless acronyms in Crossfit that I’m learning as I go. EMOM is Every minute on the minute...it makes more sense when you are actually doing it!!
My Office Manager at Wash Park Chiropractic, Kelsey Schwab is joining the Crossfit experiment with me and she had some great input regarding her experience thus far and the fundamentals. Kelsey enjoys the structure and simplicity of the Crossfit workouts. She’s the first to admit that her squat needed work at her first workout...but two weeks in and it is remarkable the difference. It is fair to say that she, like me, has bought in. The idea of simple, challenging, movements is very appealing to Kelsey. Sore abs, sore legs and the desire to come back for more - that is what I hear from her the day after a workout. Kelsey wanted me to mention the balance between Technique and Intensity at Crossfit Wash Park. I’ll be honest, watching the fittest athletes throwing around tons of weight is awesome. But we are not there yet. So as Ethan explains in Fundamentals, there has to be a balance. The first and most important thing for a new crossfitter is technique. Which he is a stickler for, as are the other coaches. Kelsey and I spend a few workouts using kettlebells or balls prior to moving to bars to ensure that we had good technique. However, I’ve mentioned this previously, but it is important to say, that if you don’t ever get out of your comfort zone and start pushing some weight, your success at Crossfit may be limited. Thus, the balance.
I’ll leave you with this today, gains happen quickly. Many fellow crossfitters have suggested that we keep track of our weights starting now. Before you know it, they say, you will be adding 10s and 10s and 10s to your bar. It is great to see where you started from. This brings be back to one of my favorite things about crossfit so far - it is reproducible and measurable. So for this goal-oriented, type-A, so far, so good.
Next Up... My next blog was going to be about equipment, because I am loving my new shoes, and I have a funny story about them! But, a few questions and comments have come up about the downside of Crossfit...so I want to talk about that sooner than later. So next up: “Why the Negatives are the Positives”. If you want a sneak peek at my embarrassing shoe story, read my twitter feed @lisakgoodman
Washington Park Chiropractic is the only practice in Denver, Colorado specializing in Sports Chiropractic, Prenatal Chiropractic and Pediatric Chiropractic. Our Wash Park Doctors are expert certified and trained in Sports, Pediatrics and Prenatal Care including massage, acupuncture, Webster Technique, Graston Technique, Laser, K-Laser, Kinesiology Tape, RockTape and Normatec.
Lisa Goodman, DC, CCSP, CACCP is a Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician (CCSP) and Certified Prenatal and Pediatric Chiropractor (CACCP). She is a CrossFit L1 and CrossFit Kids Certified Trainer. Dr. Goodman founded Washington Park Chiropractic in 2006 in Denver, Colorado. Dr. Goodman incorporates sports chiropractic techniques with prenatal and pediatric patients, she teaches mobility and taping classes locally, and is a contributor to POPSUGAR, Urban Life Wash Park and DC Aligned. She is a committee member on the boards of the ACA Pediatrics Council and the ACA Sports Council. Areas of special interest include prenatal care, ankle and wrist injuries, instrument assisted soft tissue techniques, strength training, and pediatric fitness. Stay connected with Dr. Goodman on Instagram @washparkchiro or @lisakgoodman