How a lazy brat can do (and love) CrossFit

CrossFit did not appeal to me before I tried it. I was one of those people who never aspired to include weight training, gymnastics, and burpees in my fitness routine.

My (slow) running, biking, and yoga were good enough for me, thank you very much. When I would sweat a little back then, I felt good about myself.

But sometimes in this world, we meet crazy friends who can make us do crazy things. (And in my life, a sense of adventure brought the most groundbreaking surprises.)

When CrossFit Makati first opened in 2013, my best friend Rhea and I said yes to our good friend Rovilson’s invitation for a free trial. We showed up with little clue about what we were up for, and marveled at a “gym” that looked bare: no machines and mirrors in sight, and an open black rubberized floor that was waiting for us.

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Coach Kirby Martin gave a beginner’s workout with an incredible energy (read: a voice to jolt you awake) which would make any first-timer and struggling CrossFitter almost involuntarily keep moving. He has what a lot of unforgettable coaches have: a sincerely selfless need to share a burning love for CrossFit to other people.

(Find a useful article for CrossFit beginners here.)

We did squats, burpees, wall balls, and box jumps all under a 7-minute workout. Seven minutes is shorter than the time I usually waste shopping for my cosmetics, but my heart rate had never before known such activity inside any gym or studio prior to CrossFit.

I reached a tipping point in my fitness life, and I didn’t know then what I know now: there is no turning back.

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Photo credits: The WOD Life

Yes, it was intense. My squats were slow, my wall balls barely hit the mark, and a 12-inch box jump seemed terrifying. And burpees: never mind what I first thought of them.

But surprise of surprises, they were doable!

Sore and barely walking straight, we found ourselves going back for more. A love for this “sport of fitness” started, and for once, I grew into CrossFit feeling like I thought I never would: an athlete.

CrossFit easily transforms the people who allow it to. It played into my head and revealed my self-imposed limitations and fears.

I clearly recall feeling nervous to show up many times because I knew my ass was going to be kicked so bad. It helped that I was going there with my best friend because we made each other go and share the suffering on the floor.

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Party girls as we once were, we found ourselves drawn to a seemingly bad-ass party vibe from the “box” where we just laughed or danced in the middle of a workout when it was getting too much. But we would finish all the workouts—if only because we were told that a CrossFit pain fest is normally just under 15 minutes.

The mantra “This Will Be Over Soon” became more like a prayer that I kept repeating under my breath.

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A palpable sense of community is what makes each CrossFit workout become bearable and fun. This is the CrossFit Makati community in 2013.

So how did an un-athletic and relatively lazy brat come to love CrossFit?

  1. It’s the smartest workout I’ve ever done. CrossFit efficiently gives a full body workout (that unknown parts of your body can feel for days) in under 10 or 15 minutes.

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    Photo credits: The WOD Chaser (shot at Central Ground CrossFit)
  2. The results defied expectations. I didn’t just look stronger, I felt stronger. My body adapted to the high-intensity, constantly-varied, and functional movements of CrossFit in a way that I never thought my body could. It is astounding how it proves that consistency always delivers. Even while I stayed with lifting only “baby weights,” I saw my body changing and doing things it has never done before.unnamed (3)
  3. CrossFit changed my perspective about beauty. When you realize how you can transform your body to be firmer and stronger, it changes you. I liked muscles on me and I didn’t care too much if other people thought otherwise. I saw myself lift more than my bodyweight and when I finally did, it was a magical moment in my life.  I’m grateful and proud that my husband has himself grown to love CrossFit.
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    The mister getting better and enjoying CrossFit with the help of Coach Sam Bengzon.

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    Photo credits: Fiona Ottiger
  4. I’m shameless enough to do what CrossFit allows anyone to do: scale everything. The beauty of CrossFit is its scalability, making it feasible for anyone’s fitness (or un-fitness) level to do the movements. To the disdain of some well-meaning coaches, I seldom push myself hard enough to lift heavier than I intend to. I stopped chasing personal records when I knew that what keeps me at CrossFit is not really about going heavier on weights.

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    Rhea and Chester at Primal Ape CrossFit make the sport look hot 🙂
  5. I’m not good enough at it. And that’s something that motivates rather than frustrates me. I can’t do Rx (or the recommended scale or weight) of a lot of the gymnastic movements and lifts yet, and funnily, I’m not in a rush to. I got burned out trying to progress too fast and it made me forget to enjoy each workout. I revel at still wearing a beginner’s hat whenever I step on the CrossFit floor. I don’t want to be a pro constantly looking at the leaderboard and reflecting on myself about it. Regardless of how long I’ve been doing the sport, I give myself no pressure to rank up there and be able to do it all. That works for me.

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    Photo credits: The WOD Chaser
  6. CrossFit’s intensity makes me truly shut off other things in my head. I used to have a difficult time slowing the wheels in my head. It would take me at least 3 miles of running or a much longer shavasana to turn off my thoughts and focus on the present. CrossFit’s short but highly intense working time forces you into easily pushing all else off your mind except the strategy of attacking the workout before you.

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    I love that CrossFit time is another one added to things we love to do as a couple. (Photo credits: Isabelle Wolfe of Central Ground CrossFit)
  7. CrossFit allowed me to meet some of the most impressive and inspiring people I have ever met. You can walk into a CrossFit box anywhere in the world, and it’s the same. The profiles of people inside the box are plush with stories and possibilities. You meet people from all ages and work backgrounds—with varying levels of fitness and with their own personal journeys at CrossFit—and you just relate to them. Regardless of levels of strength, speed, and endurance, they’re subjecting themselves to the same thing you are, and it’s easy to bond with these people. I will never forget Coach Anton who took pains (and a lot of humor) to teach proper form before anything else. And I will always love the box-mates who I grew into the sport with. CrossFit is where I cheered the loudest, and cheering for friends and strangers is something that made me stay in my CrossFit box for hours.

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    #CrossFitCares fund-raising event in CrossFit Makati got an overwhelming response from CrossFitters in various boxes.
  8. CrossFit is character-revealing. It gives you moments of glory and humility, many times in the same hour. You will not be good at everything, and it’s okay. Someone is faster, stronger, and bigger, and that is completely fine. You must still power through and do what you can for yourself. You get what you give. No excuses.

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    Central Ground CrossFit community with its cutest, Tiago and Miguel.
  9. CrossFit designs benchmark WODs (workout of the day) that honors fallen soldiers. This gives a deeper meaning to the pain you endure. I have rightfully (read: agonizingly) honored Kelly, Fran, Helen, Murph, and others, and I’m pretty sure thousands of CrossFitters worldwide have done the same (after not a little cursing and thinking of dying themselves). crossfit-image4 cg
  10. Lastly, CrossFit spoils you from regular workouts. I can’t help but get slightly agitated when I’m running for longer than an hour, staying still in a pose for longer than 10 seconds, and navigating typical gym machines that slowly work on isolated muscles instead of the total body. Right now, I’m patiently cross-training because my millennial boredom needs it. I stopped doing CrossFit when I moved to BGC and no box was within walking distance, but going back to it when Central Ground CrossFit opened near my work and new apartment, complete with superb programming, made me realize that I can’t really do away with CrossFit anymore.

I’ve taught CrossFit bootcamp-style to friends, peers and strangers at the office, and saw what it’s like to force yourself to leave your desk at 5:00 pm and bring yourself to work out.

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Gary, far left, is the most cheered bootcamper in the office.

I see people who struggle with building intent each time, and I’ve felt the importance for a coach’s style and a box culture to be created around encouragement, inclusivism, and positivity when self-motivation is not so strong.

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Being involved with CrossFit Kids has made me aware of consciously making the class enjoyable and effective for everyone joining you on the floor. I’ve grown personally passionate about making kids move more and working well within teams. Their energy is a joy to watch.

When one of my longest friends, Tracy, reported to me that son Tyler would do burpees everywhere (and beat his dad), my heart was close to bursting from an almost-irrational pride.

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CrossFit Kids with Coach Gio and Coach Lee at CrossFit Makati

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Our fitness journeys are personal. Some of us are well on our way into it. Some of us somehow lose our way. Some of us don’t really know how to start, or how to make it better.

What I know is this: each day is always an opportunity to begin. Be it CrossFit or something else, overrule your head and just bring yourself to move your body every single day.

When it gets frustrating, the rule of thumb is to try again. Our body can do extraordinary things and the process of getting there gives a magnificent feeling.

No matter who you are, I hope you find your fitness rhythm: one you look forward to doing every day!

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Photo credits: The WOD Chaser (Hands down, the best CrossFit photographer in the Philippines)

(Where to do CrossFit in Manila? These are the boxes I’ve tried and enjoyed going to: CFMNLPrimal Ape CrossFit and Central Ground CrossFit.)

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