I’m A CrossFit Newby: My Thoughts So Far


Because Max Shippee will be blogging more here now, we’ll be announcing at the beginning of each post who the author is. Thusly, this post was written by Neely Quinn, nutrition slinger.

A lot of you probably know that I’m a rock climber. I have been since 1998. I really love it, but this year I got bored with it in about October. I decided to quit until the new year to give my body and mind a break. That’s about the time Coach Brian Pachtman (pictured below) opened Ruya CrossFit in Boulder about a block away from my house.



I’ve been wanting to try CrossFit for years really, to see what all you people have been fiending about. But I thought it’d get in the way of my climbing (didn’t want to be sore for my gym climbing, after all…). And it’s ridiculously expensive (sorry, Brian). And I kind of got turned off because I’d call or email other CrossFit gyms in town and they never got back to me. It’s also really confusing to start, or maybe that’s just me. There’s a “free intro class” and then there’s an “introductory class” – one of which is around $200 and one of which is free – huh?

It’s Kind of Expensive
So after annoying Brian with a lot of questions, I took the plunge and signed up for the $150 Elements Class, which consisted of 8 mandatory 1-hour sessions spread out over 2 weeks to learn how not to be a complete idiot in the gym and to learn what a snatch, jerk, clean, and many of the other movements are (or as my mocking husband likes to call them, flim flams, up dives, whiggidy whams, and upper slams). After that ended in the middle of December, I was officially dubbed “not an idiot” and purchased a regular 3x-a-week membership, which costs me $140 per month.

To put this in perspective, my climbing gym memberships have never been over $58 per month, so my CrossFit membership is almost 3x that. Which means I could be a member at all three climbing gyms in Boulder for a little more than the price of one CrossFit membership. However, I don’t have a badass and supportive coach standing over me at the climbing gym telling me to stick my butt out and chest up when I commence a dead lift (yep, I now know what a dead lift is).

That’s me getting psyched for a dead lift

So there’s that.

It’s Worth It
If you have the money to spend, and even if you don’t and you have to rearrange your budget to do it, I suggest doing CrossFit.

Here’s Why
Even after only doing this kind of work for a short time I feel really strong – like stronger than I’ve ever felt overall. My legs and ass are firmer and perkier, and the most telling thing of all happened the other day for the first time: I squatted to pee in the public bathroom and my legs didn’t burn at all! It was a long pee, too. I just sat there like an unflinching Shaolin monk in horse stance, amazed by my own sanitary prowess.


Helped My Climbing
I will admit that doing CrossFit made me hungry for climbing. While lifting weights is incredibly difficult, and it takes some mental effort, there’s nothing quite as engaging as the physical/emotional/mental challenge of dangling off the side of a rock wall and doing everything in your power to not fall off.

I started climbing again two weeks ago after three weeks at Ruya CrossFit and a month before that at a different badass CrossFit-like gym (Alpine Training Center). After three sessions in the climbing gym I’m pretty much where I was two months ago when I stopped climbing. In fact, I didn’t feel too out-of-shape with climbing at all, except my finger and forearm strength had decreased. I still felt powerful, and I still had the same  amount of endurance that I had 2 months ago if I wasn’t using the small muscles in my fingers too much.

For comparison’s sake, last year I took 2 months off of climbing because of an injury. In those 2 months my only form of exercise was riding horses and walking. When I came back to climbing, I was having trouble getting up 5.10s, when I normally on-sight 5.12- and send 5.12+ in the gym. This time I did 2 sets of 2 5.11’s back-to-back on my first trip back to the climbing gym.

I’m not trying to toot my own horn here, by the way, and I hope it’s not coming off that way…

The point is that my own little experiment with CrossFit makes me believe that it “crosses” over to climbing and other sports, and I intend to do this for as long as I can afford it. I think it will make me a better climber.

It’s fun.
It’s fun to lift heavy weights above your head and feel like a freaking beast. Then it’s fun to add more weight and see if you can do it again. And it’s sickening and thrilling all at the same time to lie on the floor on the brink of throwing up after a whopping 10-minute workout. It makes me feel.. well, alive.

Quick and Dirty
It’s not as time-consuming as climbing. I know that when I go to CrossFit, I start at 5pm and I’m done at 6pm. Then I go home and resume life, whereas climbing can take an entire day, or at least a couple hours to really get thrashed.

It’s So Expensive That You’ll Actually Go
Unless you have loads of cash and $140 a month (and that’s actually cheap for CrossFit) is nothing to you, you’ll likely actually make it to your CrossFit classes. I know I do.

In Conclusion
So the verdict is that CrossFit is difficult, it makes you use your brain because there’s so much technique involved in the lifts, and it’s exciting. The workouts are exciting and the prospect of improvement is exciting. It’s changed my body in two months so much that my husband regularly comments on it, but most of all, I feel strong.

How does CrossFit make YOU feel?