Tonight’s post, once again, comes courtesy of CF West trainer and co-owner Jocelyn Forest.
Most CrossFitters can vividly remember their first time. It was a bit clumsy. There was a lack of stamina and coordination. It was a little awkward. And for any of us who pushed it hard enough, it was definitely painful.
Hey, I’m talking about your first CrossFit workout.
But that first time did not come before a period of contemplation. I bet many of you peeked through the door a couple of times only to see a bunch of sweaty, fit, shirtless guys and gals tossing around heavy weights, and then collapsing on the floor, gasping for air.
“I don’t think I can do that,” you thought, terrified that if you even attempted you might totally embarrass yourself, or worse, die.
But then Sam probably spotted you as you were peeking, twisted your arm, and forced you to give it a shot. The people in class greeted you with open arms, excited about your courage to try it out. And, although during that first WOD, you did, in fact, almost die, you realized how great this thing called CrossFit is. You stuck around after class and listened to all of the testimonials from those fit, shirtless people tossing around heavy weights. About how they were once overweight, or smokers, or simply very timid and un-athletic; who, after starting CrossFit, experienced this tremendous healthy domino effect in all areas of their life. And you decided to come back.
This would have been extra scary if you joined CrossFit West before April 1, 2008. Back then, when we were so small that we were running out of the corner of a globo (yoga folks used to come over to ask us not to drop the weights because it was disrupting their chi) when you joined us, you jumped right in to those intense heavy clean Tabata workouts and Helen days, and just did your best to keep up.
But since we’ve opened the new box in April, we have had the luxury of offering Elements classes which have been instrumental in the development of our athletes. Elements are an essential part of the blossoming of a CrossFit career. Learning and mastering the elements of CrossFit can be the difference in being a good athlete and a great athlete. We all know that intensity is key. But it is also incredibly important to master the fundamentals of each movement in order keep them safe and most beneficial by moving your joints in a full range of motion, in order that we can push the intensity safely.
Elements classes are a great way to be sure that these skills are learned correctly from the very beginning. Muscle memory quickly becomes a key component in most physical skills and exercises which can make it difficult to UN-learn bad habits. As a pitching coach, I have seen hundreds of kids over the years, and it is always easier to teach good mechanics to the “first timer” than the experienced pitcher who has ingrained years of bad habits into her muscle memory. The same is true in CrossFit.
The Elements classes are also key in that they give the athlete the individual attention needed to build confidence in the movements that will be required in class. Every new athlete worries about things like not remembering the names of exercises, or not being able to do a “real” kipping pullup or the rx’d movement when it comes up in a workout. These one-on-one classes give coaches an opportunity to not only teach new trainees the fundamentals, but reiterate that workouts will be scaled based on their abilities as well as alleviate fears about what will come later.
As a CrossFit Elements coach, I take great pride in helping my athletes to achieve good mechanics. It’s like being a proud parent, sending your kid to class for the first day, knowing that you have helped teach them the solid fundamentals they will need to be successful in the future. And I always aim to be sure that these new blossoming athletes really enjoy their experience. As everyone knows, CrossFit changes people’s lives. This is what makes being a CrossFit coach the best job in the world. There’s something special about being there in the beginning, reeling in that shy, timid face. Getting them to do things with their body they never thought possible, and encouraging them to make lifestyle changes that turn them into healthier happier people. There’s nothing like getting that first email from an athlete, thanking you for your encouragement, and hearing their transformation story. It’s amazing the day that same shy person walks through the door radiating confidence, and jotting down their new Fran PR in their journal.
What’s best is seeing that same, once meek, athlete greet the new timid face in the door with a smile and a confident hand shake as they begin to tell them all about what they have in store for their future.
And so, as always in CrossFit, the story of the blossoming athlete comes full circle.
How do you think elements helped you prepare for classes? And, if you were a member of the “pre-Elements era,” how do you think that changed your adaptation period to CrossFit?
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7 sets of 3 where the last 3 sets are 3RM
3 Muscle Ups
6 Handstand Pushups
9 Hang Power Cleans 95/65#
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