I’ve seen a lot of people asking recently what are good ways to cross train with or for pole – and some asking about CrossFit in particular.
I’ve been going to CrossFit on-and-off for about 5 months now, and have a good idea of how it’s helped or affected my training.
My CrossFit journey started as I just didn’t have enough time to go to the gym, figure out a workout plan, and get it done while fighting for equipment. I also wanted something I could commit to, and have someone who could push me in a way that I just can’t do on my own.
Before I go any further, I will say that I really enjoy going to CrossFit. Those who go, do tend to love it, and it can take over. I know some of you reading this will love it, and others will have tried and found it’s not for you. Here are my thoughts…
I went into CrossFit with an open mind – I did a lot of research before I went as well. I had a few intro sessions to get me used to the movements and exercises before I really got into the workouts. I’ve not done any Olympic lifting before coming to CrossFit, but was used to the bodyweight movements and Powerlifting movements like deadlifts, squats and bench press etc.
My partner and I are both in the fitness industry and have a good idea of how far we can push our bodies. I do think that CrossFit could be difficult for those who come from a place of having no fitness experience at all.
In CrossFit, as with all coached sports you have to trust your coach to get it right!
We are lucky to have some great coaches who really know what they’re doing and give constant feedback. However, they can’t feel what you can, so you might be doing everything right but still feel a niggle here and there that becomes something bigger.
I had a session about 2 months ago, and was doing everything right and felt great. The next day I couldn’t move. I’d done something to my back and it wasn’t right for a couple of weeks – and I thought I was doing everything right in the session. My feedback was good on the day too. I’m super-wary of doing that lift now.
Some of our classes are quite quiet (as we usually go during the normal working day) so it’s good to get more feedback and help – it’s harder in bigger classes, of course.
Go At Your Own Pace
I think it’s hard in any class to look around and see people around you steaming ahead. Whether they’re piling on the weights or flying around the pole, it’s hard not to compare yourself or push yourself, sometimes too far.
I’m happily stubborn when it comes to going at my own pace. I know I can’t lift as much as, well, any one in my CrossFit box, but I’m fine with that. I go at my own pace and only add weight on when I know I’m ready.
This way of thinking has made me much happier, and I’ve got a lot more out of the sessions too 😀
I do have to address injuries, and by now you know that I’ve had a bad one already. I’ve also twinged my arm trying a kipping movement – I tried to see what this kipping is all about and it’s not for me, my shoulders do not enjoy it!
I’ve come to the conclusion that for me, the Olympic lifts are too risky, at the moment. It’s too much for my body to handle, especially when I pole as well. I find that these are the exercises where I tend to get the most injuries. I can’t give them enough focused time to nail them as I really need time to focus on pole first.
In our box, only 2 workouts per week solely focus on these lifts – sometimes it’s a deadlift or bench and that’s fine for me, otherwise, I just won’t go if it’s cleans or snatches. That said, I’m still able to go to the box and workout whenever I like.
Why I Love CrossFit
So I know I’ve put a few negative things about CrossFit but I just want to make sure that I’m honest with you.
I do go to CrossFit and really enjoy it – I just do it my way.
I’ll look and see what the workouts are in advance and book whichever ones I can do / try. I love the intensity of the workouts as I know I can’t get the same intensity of workout at home. I really enjoy the mix of exercises – once you get past the Olympic lifts, the exercises are pretty straight forward and are easy to bang out.
Don’t get me wrong – every session is intense. I’ve never been able to get as intense a session in when I’ve been to the gym. It tests me in new ways, and really pushes my limits. We also have partner or team workouts which make me work even harder too!
I try to use pole as my strength work and get my cardio and intense sessions in from CrossFit. We have a squat rack in the pole studio so I get my resistance sessions in there. When I feel stronger in the basic movements, I’ll perhaps go back to the Olympic lifts. I’m sure a lot of you who go will love that element of it – I’m sure I will too, but I just need to get stronger first.
Put Pole First
So to answer that main question of cross training…
I used to do 9.30am sessions at CrossFit and then train pole in the evenings. Not a good idea! CrossFit destroys me. I feel done-for-the-day. Of course I still have the energy to teach but training pole… not a chance!
It’s taken me a while but now I’ve realised that pole just has to come first. I’ll either do CrossFit on days when I’m not training pole, or I’ll do pole in the mornings – it just won’t happen otherwise.
Doing CrossFit also makes me feel like I need to stretch more, and that I need a rest day – both of which are good things.
So would I recommend cross training with CrossFit? Yes and no.
I love it, and the intensity works for me – which is just something I don’t quite get from pole. I’m avoiding the Olympic lifts for now, but happily do the other sessions.
Of course there might be a lift in the workouts, so I just keep it on light weights. I love the partner workouts and honestly, the brutal nature of the sessions! I love the bodyweight and gymnastic sessions too. So usually there are 2 sessions a week I’ll miss. We used to go at least 3 times a week but now we’ll go at least once a week. I train pole and workout in our mini gym too so I still get really good workouts in throughout the week.
The main downside is potential injury, so just look after yourself. If something doesn’t feel right, stop. Don’t feel the pressure to try to lift the most in the room – unless you know you can! 😉
I know I’ll never be fully into CrossFit because I love pole, and that has to come first. But I love the idea of seeing where CrossFit will take me.
Have you tried CrossFit, or are you thinking about it? Let me know your thoughts 😀