My First Time Doing CrossFit After Years of Bro Workouts

The gym is my favorite place for some much-needed me time. I throw on my headphones with aggressive music blaring, pick up some heavy weights and focus on improving myself. So the community aspect of CrossFit never appealed to me. In fact, it has always turned me off.

That, however, changed Jan. 8 when I experienced my first CrossFit WOD. (For those not in the know, a WOD is the workout of the day.)

With the help of Reebok, I was granted access to the box (i.e. gym) on Fifth Avenue in New York City to engage in whatever the coach (no need to explain this) had planned for the group. (Coach Joell Bourdeau put the group through some serious leg and cardio work.) And the workout was far different from the all-too-common push/pull/legs routine (aka the “bro” workout) I regularly perform.

A row of squat racks inside the CrossFit box on Fifth Avenue in New York City.
CREDIT: Peter Verry

For those who have never given CrossFit a try, the first thing you’ll notice is how supportive everyone is. Literally, everyone is your cheerleader. You’re guaranteed to hear a “You’ve got this” or “Come on, you can do it” in a genuine tone. The people you’re working out with are willing to encourage you to do your best, which I found surprisingly motivating.

That community aspect allowed me to meet Brandon, a CrossFitter and powerlifter who dropped in while visiting from Georgia. He talked about how he was diagnosed with lupus and had other health complications not too long ago and how the cardio aspects of CrossFit, coupled with the lifting, have helped him stay alive. Such a compelling story. (I totally became the “You’ve got this” guy while working out with him.)

What I also liked about CrossFit is the lack of downtime. Working out alone, you can get lost in a mindless text message group chat with your friends or scroll Spotify for new songs to lift to, wasting a ton of time in the process. In the box, you’re timed, and that competitive instinct to complete the workout comes out in full force. You’re in there less time than the gym by yourself, and yet you’re likely working out more.

Another look inside the CrossFit box on Fifth Avenue in New York City.
CREDIT: Peter Verry

As for the footwear required in the box, something versatile is important. (Bourdeau had us doing wall balls, back squats, squat cleans and burpees.) I wouldn’t wear a running shoe, because plush cushioning isn’t good when doing heavy lifts. A well-constructed cross-training style would be best, but something built specifically for CrossFit is optimal (less durable cross-trainers will get abused quickly). Reebok has its Nano franchise, as well as other CrossFit co-branded looks, and other brands are now catering to athletes who participate in the sport.

I don’t think I’ll completely abandon the typical bro style of working out, but after this experience, I’ll absolutely be spending a lot more time in a CrossFit box.

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