Crossfit training open to people of all skill levels
By Greg Ford
Suzy DeShields was looking for a workout that would compel her to come to the gym. After all, she had been athlete, specifically a gymnast, all the way through college, but the exercising DeShields had been doing since then didn’t really excite her.
Then, like many others, she entered into the world of box jumps, burpees, wall balls, running, rope jumping, weight lifting and other assorted strenuous activities. In other words, DeShields took up crossfit training.
“It’s fun. It’s one of those things where you see your gains from the hard work in the gym,” said DeShields, who trains at Crossfit BigRig in Wylie.
Crossfit has taken off across the nation, attracting people of all ages who are either looking to get fit, stay in shape, or both, and maybe eventually participate in local and national competitions.
It’s constantly varied, high-intensity training that’s designed to work on “functional fitness,” said Angelo Grimes, who runs WTF Crossfit in Wylie.
“Most people think they have to do something to get fit before they do crossfit … Anyone can do it. I have a 72-year-old lady in my class,” Grimes said.
Many of the exercises, while strenuous, have real-life applications, such as stepping on and off a box and combining upper body and leg movements, said Wes Linsley, who runs CrossFit Big Rig.
“I think it’s great for anybody and everybody,” he said. “If you want to be pushed, if you want to learn how to use your body correctly… We train for every day life, lifting up and putting something away, getting up on boxes. I think this is the perfect work out for anyone, whether you are overweight, have high cholesterol or if you are former athlete.”
DeShields is the latter, and even she had to slowly build up her strength and endurance, especially during the WODs (Workouts of the Day), which come at the end of a session and often combine multiple lifting tasks along with cardio. They are often timed, with participants having to workout for a set number of minutes or complete an assigned task for time. The former is called an AMRAP — As Many Rounds as Possible.
DeShields could see improvement in her WODs, eventually getting to the prescribed weight for an exercise. She eventually starting partaking in competitions, one of which she recently won.
“That is why crossfit is for everybody, because there is a weight that everyone can do,” she said.
Making sure a person uses the right weight or doesn’t overdo an exercise is something crossfit trainers must deal with often.
“It is really hard, especially for the alpha males who played sports,” Grimes said. “I’m 43 and I wrecked myself pretty good the first year and a half trying to keep up with the 25-year-olds. A lot of times it’s a lack of mobility or patience. Anyone can do it properly; some people it takes longer and some people aren’t very patient.”
He added, “They should be trying to move well for where they are at. When we say we’ll scale and modify (because) some people have injuries and there are things they just can’t do … So you have to free your mind about keeping up with everyone else, but it’s hard because we have that competitive environment.”
Linsley said he emphasizes two things at his gym; commitment and patience. People have to come in regularly and they must be willing to learn. If someone is not “coachable,” he said, then crossfit training likely is not for “them.”
“You have to let them know immediately when they first come in that (they) are going to hurt themselves,” Linsley said.
He added, “You have to have an open mind.”
One of those just getting started is Charles Daniel, 46, who’s spent the last couple of months at WTF Crossfit.
“I have more energy, a little stronger and able to do more things,” said Daniel, who exercises about three to four days a week. “It’s a mix every day, so that’s nice, mixing the workouts.”
Crossfit training is more hands-on and person-to-person than a regular gum workout, Linsley noted.
“It’s a really good way for any athlete to increase their endurance and their strength. I started doing that, liked it and started implementing it into my training … Everything we do is scalable. No matter what I put on the board for the day, if someone comes in very novice or very green, we lower the weight. We can even alter the movement.”