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8 Reasons Women Should CrossFit

Denae Brown at the 2012 Australian CrossFit Regionals

Denae Brown at the 2012 Australian CrossFit Regionals

If you’re a female and do CrossFit, then good on you! You know the benefits and understand what high-intensity functional fitness means not only to the shape of your body but also your overall health.

However, if you’ve been peeking around at this “CrossFit thing” to see what it’s all about, and maybe are a little intimidated to try, I invite you to give it a go and see what you think. Don’t be scared off by the naysayers who think CrossFit is only for insane people, is too intense for the average Jane, or will cause you great physical harm. When done correctly, CrossFit is safe and effective…and even fun! Here are 8 reasons why women should CrossFit:

1. Cardio Queen Killer: I can’t tell you the numerous hours I’ve spent on stationary bikes, treadmills, and elliptical machines. You know what? They get you nowhere fast–quite literally. Actually, the end destination most times for me was ‘Frustration-ville’. It’s a horrible place to be when you’re trying to make healthy changes. I’m not saying that cardio workouts and machines are completely useless for women. However, I never saw the same level of effectiveness on a machine as I do with the cross-training ways of CrossFit.

2. Lift–and Still Look–Like a Girl: If you steer clear of weight lifting for fear of looking like a man, it’s time to come to the lifting light. Strength training–CrossFit or not–is not the only way bulk comes to be. In fact, to look like Ms. Olympia (or even half her mass), has almost more to do with super strict diet and dedication than the iron she’s pumping (although, that certainly helps). Weight lifting is awesome for your body–even when you’re not doing it. Cardio burns calories for the time that you’re doing it; strength training, on the other hand, keeps the caloric blaze a burning even while you’re at rest. The end result is a toned body–and only a bulky one if you decide to build it so.

3. Everyone Is Welcome: Can’t do a pull up, let alone a muscle up? Guess what, I can’t either–but I’m working on it, and you will too. True story: At my very first class, which was a beginner class, we had to do jump rope spins as part of the warm up. I was a mess, so much so, that my coach had me jump in place, and hold the rope ends in one hand and spin it to my side. Yeah…COULD NOT JUMP A ROPE. I may have felt like an ass for that moment, but now I can do double unders and all because the exercises were broken down into levels I could handle. As I became better, I was advanced to take on more skill. That’s called “scaling”, and it’s how CrossFit can turn even seniors into competitive athletes.

4. Friend Finder: Outside of work and friends of friends, it’s hard to meet new people. But you’ll soon find that if you dedicate even a little time a CrossFit box (a.k.a., gym), you’ll have lots of newbie friends in your future. This doesn’t mean that WOD time is social hour–NO! However, having a friend by your side to cheer you on and inspire you to do your best, can be the beginning to a beautiful friendship.

2013 CrossFit Games (Image Courtesy of CrossFit's Facebook Page).

2013 CrossFit Games (Image Courtesy of CrossFit’s Facebook Page).

5. Partner Up: Right in line with #4, many marriages/relationships, have been started with 3, 2, 1…Go. If you can ‘Fran’ together (a pretty tough workout), your wedded future could be bright. I’m not saying you should join CrossFit to meet your mate, but if you did, you wouldn’t be alone.

6. Miss Independent: I don’t know about you, but being able to open a jar of pickles on my own or move a cabinet without my spouse coming to my aid feels pretty awesome. CrossFit can make you strong, and strength can lead to independence–and cool bar tricks!

7. Be Challenged: Are you bored at your job? Do you feel like you could do more with your life but aren’t? Get ready to be challenged in ways you never imagined. CrossFit isn’t just physical; it’s mental. You’ll need mind and body strength to make it through some WODs. Tears might even come before the finish does. But in the end, I promise that while you’re cursing the CrossFit powers that be, once you scrape yourself off the floor, you’ll feel really proud of what you just accomplished. And knowing what you got through in the gym means you could probably conquer anything outside of it as well.

8. Knee Socks: You know all those cute, brightly colored knee socks that are trendy right now, but without boots, you don’t feel like you can pull them off? Well, CrossFit gives you multiple non-fashion reasons to don the calf coverers: rope climbs, dead lifts, and double unders. Leg protection is a must for many CF activities, and knee socks are the perfect performance pair. Men and women wear them often, so you’ll fit right in with your loud leg freak show.

Women in CrossFit knee socks

Remember, I was once in your place. And while being crazy may fit the bill for me–after all, my “reward” for running a complete 5K was getting to take a CrossFit class–sane people are completely welcome.

Like I always say about opinions, you be the judge. Most first classes are free, so what do you have to lose?

  • Absolutely agree, Carrie!!

    Especially about the feeling of being able to conquer things outside of the box. I think that is the biggest selling point I try to share with other women; the pure empowerment that Crossfit gives you and how your confidence can be boosted in so many ways!

  • Laura Schuster

    I agree whole-heartedly. Crossfit has helped me to be confident in myself and it has shown at work and how I carry myself around other people. My life would be very different if I didn’t join 6 months ago.

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  • Natalie Taaffe

    I agree, I am approx. 40 kilos overweight, 50 kilos when I started Crossfit in July. I have now worked myself up to 5 sessions a week. I have osteo arthritis in my knees , but keep going because I am feeling and seeing the benefits.

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  • totally agree!

  • Melinda farmer

    Can a 60 year old woman start this??? I’m so out of shape!!!

    • Teri

      Yes! All exercises are completely scalable to your fitness level. I’m a 38 year old female and weigh 230lbs and WOD (workout of the day) with the best of them–just know, you will have to learn a new vocabulary… lol

    • DianaT

      I am 63 and started crossfit last October. It was more what I couldn’t do rather than what I could. I was so out of shape. I have come a long way since then. So, yes you can start no matter your age. I have never felt better!

  • G

    Thank you for this article – very motivating and I can’t wait to go out and buy knee socks 🙂

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  • Andrea

    This is all true! I have some injuries from a car accident and I didnt start having good days until after I joined crossfit. Also, I feel safer because I have a coach checking on my form and telling me to keep my core tight. Mentally, it has reminded me that even though I have lost some things, I can still feel accomplished and confident. I can’t go back to a regular gym!

  • Shasonta

    All true!!!! SO TRUE.

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  • Cara

    A note to whoever runs this blog: I’m disappointed that you chose to censor my comment cautioning Melinda Farmer regarding starting CrossFit at the age of 60. My contrarian view is important, first because it’s based on experience and second because it balances some rather unrealistic assumptions about CrossFit that may not be apparent based on the performance of a minuscule cohort of exceptions.

    No one ever asks the important question: why are there so few people over the age of 60 (men or women) in CrossFit? Instead, CrossFitters like to hold up the one person who manages to stick it out and say “see, if he/she can do it, so can you.” In other words, CrossFit doesn’t want to change its approach. It prefers to imply that older folks are just a bunch of lazy chickens. But the fact is, older people are terrified of CrossFit, with good reason. We cannot afford another injury on top of the injuries, surgeries, illnesses and loss of function that we’ve already experienced. Particularly if we haven’t been very active in the past, everything is geometrically harder and more risky for us. We are deconditioned. Until CrossFit addresses this by modifying its programming, the demographics of the organization will never change.

    In my comment to Melinda Farmer I provided a link to Jim Baker’s article on training older athletes because it serves as confirmation of all that I am saying, and it comes from a long-time CrossFit competitor and trainer whose coach was Greg Glassman himself. It’s an article worth seeking out and reading.

    I loved doing CrossFit and I believe it has a lot to offer, but because of typical CrossFit coaching, I got injured there in a way that forced me to reassess everything. I’m an average, weak, unathletic 61 year old woman who wants to stay vertical as long as possible. To that end, I now do powerlifting with an experienced and savvy coach who’s certified in power lifting and Olympic lifting. He understands without a shadow of a doubt that I am not 25 years old. He created a program for me that has enabled me to slowly get stronger WITHOUT THE RISK OF INJURY. (Reread that bit a few times, because that’s the crux of the CrossFit problem with regard to older athletes.)

    I don’t expect you to publish this (although you can if you want to). But it would be nice if younger CrossFit trainers started to think about this and take it seriously.

    Thank you.

    Cara Beckenstein
    Brooklyn, NY

    • Hi Cara, we never censored your post. The commenting system withholds any comments that have urls to prevent spam. You placed a url to a CrossFit Santa Cruz Central article so it was withheld by default and not by us. I have since approved it. Sounds like you found a coach that works for you so congrats on that. That said, I think there are some amazing CrossFit trainers that make an utmost effort to cater to all their clients needs. Although it’s just like anything else you have to spend the time to find the right trainer for you and it sounds like you have done that. Just because a person has had one bad personal trainer should not mean fitness itself is bad. As should the same be said of CrossFit. Just because someone might have come across one bad CrossFit box/trainer or class does not mean CrossFit itself is all bad. In any event best of luck with your training.

      • Tony Renner

        Cara, are you the Cara of Tee and Cara?

    • Sally

      There are several women and some men in their 60s at the Cross fit I go to. The trainer is wonderful and monitors everyone’s form and capabilities. There are substitute excercises if something is above your level. Your comments do not apply to cross fit only to an ignorant group who pretends to know what they’re doing. My advice to everyone is spend some one on one with the trainer and use common sense.

  • Paula Chávez Cortés

    Muchas gracias por este lindo artículo!!! He encontrado el el Crossfit una forma de reconciliarme con mi cuerpo, pues tengo muchos problemas de salud, pero él me ha ayudado a sentir que con mi cuerpo nada es imposible aunque pareszca todo adverso. Un abrazo desde la Patagonia Chilena! (espero puedan entenderme, porque de inglés no sé nada jajaja)

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  • JudTud

    I am a 63 year old woman and started Crossfit 1 year ago. It’s the best and most fun workout experience I’ve ever had. I go to a full service gym that has Crossfit classes and the trainers there are incredible. One more hardcore than the other, so you can choose which one suit you the best and go to their class. I’ve had one minor injury but that was me having poor technique. These coaches work on technique every class so this was totaling my own fault. I am by far the oldest crossfitter there but am encouraged daily by the 20-30 yr olds. Never gonna have the fastest time and never gonna lift the heaviest weight but I will finish every time. Everyone can try it, the key is to know your body and ability and workout accordingly.

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  • Jessie Wollard

    Great article Carrie – you’re spot on with what you say!

  • Great write up!

  • kait1

    Really?? Make friend finder, knee socks. Of 8 reasons, those are the 2 of them? All of these reasons are also true at any gym.

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  • janet

    I started crossfit in my mid fifties. I absolutely love it. Only one injury, a broken wrist while running, which could have happened anywhere while running. The coaches were great helping me scale and substitute movements as soon as I was in a cast. After the cast came off, more work with scaling and substitutions. I’m now 61 and wod 4-5 days a week. My coaches help everyone scale or substitute movements. I recently was able to deadlift 200lbs. There are some things I can do, that the 20-30 somethings haven’t achieved yet. So what if you aren’t the fastest or lift the heaviest, go, get fit and have fun!

    • Desiree

      Question for anyone…I am 46 and have exercised for years..well we all know how age makes things drop and such..
      Is crossfit a good thing gs to get lean and tone with proper diet as well

  • Andrew

    I just happened to come across site. Great article above. I am actually male 71 years old but most of what I see in the comments applies to either gender. I have been Crossfitting for 9 months. What really blew me away was the somewhat unexpected patience of the instructors. To this day I look at the WOD and immediately they scale it to suit me if necessary. Not just light weights but sometimes a completely different exercise that targets the same muscle groups. I cannot to toe to bar, but once I managed sit ups I can do V ups. I do the whole WOD with all the young people. They support me and I them. A funny experience was getting a rash on my butt from too many sits ups, my wife calls it diaper rash! I call it a battle scar! Yes some people think I am crazy for doing Crossfit, nobody that does crossfit thinks I am crazy, they encourage me. And to close yes, we do have an over 60 lady that can grunt and sweat like everyone else.

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