I Tried Crossfit and Survived
Bedford Hill gym offers Crossfit with four-legged coach.
When my boss asked me if I wanted to try a Crossfit class for a story, I paused. I had never done Crossfit before.
I had heard of Crossfit — and was, to say the least, intimidated. CrossFit is a strength and conditioning workout made up of functional movements performed at a high-intensity level. The workouts can be adapted for people of all different physical athletic abilities and ages.
I had watched Crossfit competitions. And I had thought I’d seen the archetype of a “Crossfitter.” In my mind, they were the type of people who don’t sweat when they workout; they glisten. Whose abs have abs, who eat raw iron rods for breakfast and shotgun the blood of unicorns for lunch. My imagination painted Crossfitters as people who easily bench press a beluga whale and never have a problem opening a stubborn pickle jar. I am admittedly not that person.
But, in the name of journalism, I decided to attend a Crossfit class. So on a weekday afternoon, I headed to the recently opened Sunshine Crossfit and Athletics in Bedford Hills.
My class started better than I could have imagined. I was greeted by a handsome gent upon my entrance to the box (Crossfit parlance for gym).
Colby is Sunshine Fitness Co-founder and Coach Ana Montoya’s dog, resident good boy, and unofficial mascot.
After paying the entrance fee of two pats to Colby, I received a warm welcome from Montoya and her fellow co-founder, Catherine Brodsky. The pair opened Sunshine Crossfit in June with the aspiration to build a welcoming community for people from all walks of life. Besides CrossFit, Sunshine Crossfit offers pilates, TRX classes, barbell clubs, children’s classes, and more. On any given week, Sunshine CrossFit offers over 35 different classes for people of any activity level.
After Montoya gave me a quick introduction to the various pieces of equipment, the class began. On a whiteboard on the wall of the box was the WOD, better known as “Workout of the Day,” which Montoya reviewed with everyone as we were set to begin. She also told us, “Don’t worry about anyone around you. Focus on only you and what you’re doing.”
After a warm-up, we started with a skill and strength workout. We did five sets of 250-meter sprints on the rowing machine, with two minutes of rest between each set. Before we got to rowing, Montoya demonstrated the proper way to row and even cracked a joke while doing so.
“If you’re going to elbow someone in the face, you would do it this way,” Montoya told the class as she pulled her elbows directly behind her, exemplifying a proper row pull. Finally, laughs subsided, and we were rowing. Between the whirring of the row machines, Coach Brodsky would encourage others with loud cheers while she was on a rowing machine herself.
I was not only surviving each set but saw my motivation continue to rise. I wanted to push a little harder with each passing set. Set No. 5 was my fastest set.
Next, we moved on to the Metabolic Conditioning (MetCon) and the final portion of the workout. The Metcon we were about to do was timed for a total of ten minutes. In that ten minutes, the aim was to complete five rounds of the following set: five Man Makers, ten weighted sit-ups, and jump 20 double-unders with a jump rope. A Man Maker is a full-body dumbbell workout that combines a push-up, a row, and a squat clean thruster.
I was definitely intimidated at the prospect of completing the MetCon and remembering all the movements. Before we began, Coach Montoya walked around, giving modifications of the workout for those interested. I modified my workout to do push-ups on my knees. We all got into our ready position.
“What makes a man?” asked Coach Montoya.
“A woman!” the class enthusiastically answered.
Then we were off. I was pushing up and squatting, and sitting up, and sweating simultaneously. Before I took a Crossfit class, I was plagued with the thought of my classmates judging my less than perfect movements. But as I squatted, I looked around the gym and realized everyone was so enthralled in their workout that they didn’t notice me. The only competitor and critique with me on my workout was me. And that voice was telling me to squat faster – we only had a few minutes left!
With about 30 seconds to spare, I finished my five rounds and promptly collapsed on the floor. Instead of a victory lap, I took a victory lay, sweat dripping out of all my pores, and a feeling of fatigue washed over my body.
I left Sunshine with a pep on my step. I was not only in good spirits from the flow of endorphins, but my self-confidence was soaring.
Crossfit isn’t this group of elite athletes. It’s your neighbor, your cousin, that guy from your office, all setting aside time in their day to work to be the best that they think they can be.
Coaches Montoya and Brodsky were so fun, friendly, and engaging. My classmates also gave me a warm welcome. There was no one there to be intimidated by, only new friends I had yet to make.
Would I go again? Definitely. I’ve learned that there’s strength to be found in Sunshine.
Erin Maher is a freelance writer and journalist based in Westchester. For more of Erin Maher’s musings, visit www.erinmaherwrites.com, or follow her on Instagram @erinmaherwrites and Twitter @erinmaherwrites.