Jess brought me as her +1 to a blogger class at CrossFit Coolidge Corner a few weeks ago. CrossFit Coolidge Corner is welcome addition to the Brookline fitness scene (which is already booming with Healthworks, Bodyscapes Fitness, several yoga studios, and now Pure Barre Brookline). Several friends, coworkers, and even students are huge fans of CrossFit, so I was eager to see if I too would catch the bug. Our class included four other attendees: Shelby from Paleo Princess RD, Shelby’s boyfriend Adam, Jen from Boston Bachelorette, and Jen’s friend Melissa.
After an introduction by coaches Brett and Yosh, we got started with the workout. I was surprised to recognize lots of elements from workouts that I’d done in personal training and at my friend Barbara’s boot camp. I was happy that the workout was motivating rather than scary!
We started with foam rolling our calves, quads, IT bands, adductors, and mid-back, followed by stretches to loosen up our muscles. CrossFit Coolidge Corner members are instructed to do these before every single class. I liked these exercises and will incorporate them more at home.
We did these in a line going back and forth across the gym floor (except for the sled push, which was done on turf) for about 50 meters. This reminded me of track practice and gym class.
– walking spider lunges + hamstring stretch
– high kicks
– high knees
– butt kicks
– high knees
– broad jumps
– shuttle sprint
– high knees
– sled push relay
The small class size was great for getting individualized attention and differentiated instruction from Coach Brett and Coach Yosh. Both Brett and Yosh have significant training experience (e.g., coaching weightlifting teams or CrossFit Fenway), and that experience was evident in their accurate corrections to form and ability to differentiate instruction. Because Shelby and Adam were experienced CrossFitters, they did strength and the Workout of the Day (WOD) with Yosh while Jess, Jen, Melissa, and I worked with Brett.
– Strict Press (5-5-5-5-5)
– Ring rows (10-10-10-10)
Jess and I partnered up for the strength portion. For the strict presses, we prepped using PVC pipe so that we could practice the motions with correct form (e.g., keeping elbows lifted and holding core in). However, I found it easier to maintain form when using the 15 pound bar with 5 pounds of weight added. We alternated the sets of ring rows and strict presses with each other at the same station. I tried to get as low to the ground as possible on the ring rows and ended up paying for this later (in the WOD and for three days of soreness).
– Every Minute on the Minute (EMOM)
— 3 burpees
— 200 m shuttle sprint with med ball (14 RX for women, 20 RX for men)
After Brett explained the WOD, I thought “thank goodness the medicine ball isn’t wall balls!” and thought it would be reasonable. I thought wrong. The WOD was much harder than attempting a two-mile time trial or doing a tough track workout. As humans, we tend to gravitate toward what we do best and avoid practicing what we’re not good at. Burpees and short sprints both have top spots on my “things to hide from” list, so I found this WOD extremely challenging mentally and physically.
I appreciated Brett’s motivating attitude and cues for countdowns, as well as his suggestions for differentiation. He recommended to try an easier medicine ball weight so that we wouldn’t tire ourselves out at first. I initially tried to carry the prescribed medicine ball weight of 14 pounds, thinking “Fourteen pounds is not that much.” Oh but it is! I have now learned that I could sprint 200 meters with three fourteen pound objects (bags? babies?) but after three reps, I had to drop to 10 pounds, 8 pounds, and finally no weight at all. I am glad that I took a risk and attempted the higher weight though…I normally tend to be conservative with weight or advanced modifications (like in Pure Barre).
For me, this was more like “lie on the floor and whimper.” I’m glad that the coaches made us stretch, because we would have been twice as sore if we had not.
I can see how CrossFit appeals to those who crave high-intensity, dynamic workouts, are motivated by competition, and like to bond with their fellow gym-goers. The workouts are constantly changing and will get you to improve at strength, speed, and endurance. However, I can also see how competition can be demotivating for others. I used to incorporate lots of team competitions in some math classes, but realized that some students hated those competitions out of fear of embarrassment or looking dumb in front of their peers. At CrossFit, I liked that we were working hard in solidarity, but I didn’t like feeling as if we were racing each other during the WOD. I think this is why I’ve grown to like indoor cycling classes…everyone in the room is working hard, but they’re all together rather than spread out according to speed and strength.
Though CrossFit is so difficult (and includes many of my most-feared exercises), I appreciated the chance to try it at CrossFit Coolidge Corner. Branching out of one’s comfort zone is important to do as a teacher and as a student. I would recommend CrossFit Coolidge Corner to both newbies and experienced CrossFitters based on the quality of instruction.