Can you do CrossFit at home? Yes.
Should you do it like I did? No.
I started doing CrossFit at the end of 2008. Since my town didn't have a CrossFit gym at the time, I was tasked with doing CrossFit at home.
Ten years later, with a whole lot of hindsight, here are some observations about my experience.
1. I had NO IDEA what I was doing.
When I first started doing CrossFit at home, I had a 2-part recipe for disaster.
- I jump into things like I'm killing snakes.
- I don't like reading a whole lot of directions.
If the WOD called for 135-lb power cleans, I would google "how to power clean," and then try to power clean 135 lbs. If I couldn't do that, I would scale back a bit and try it again. As soon as I could do the movement (with VERY ugly form), I'd plunge headlong into the workout.
There were no drills with PVC pipes, there were no warm-ups, there was no coaching...just daily wrestling matches with weights I had no business lifting.
Don't get me wrong here. I take full responsibility for being an idiot in the beginning. It's not CrossFit's fault I got stupid with a very sound training plan.
2. I didn't have the right equipment.
When I didn't have the right tools to do things like kettlebell swings, pull-ups, and wall-balls, I joined the local globo-gym. You know, the kind of gym with lots of mirrors on the walls, so you can look at your own butt while you do arm curls? Yeah...that gym.
I was still doing CrossFit at home most of the time, but occasionally I would head to the globo-gym and let people watch me fail miserably at movements they'd never seen, with equipment that wasn't ideal.
I tried to do box jumps, but the ceiling was so short I hit my head when I jumped back down off the box between reps. I tried kipping pull-ups, but the pull-up bar was so low I had to bend my knees to keep from dragging my feet. I tried to do double unders, but the gym only had 1 jump rope (which was missing a handle), so my first double unders were as ugly as they were miraculous.
Going to the globo-gym after doing CrossFit at home was like showing up to a racquetball tournament and trying to teach myself to play tennis in the corner with a ping-pong paddle and a basketball.
Let's just say I got some strange looks.
3. I couldn't see myself.
The more I realized that I needed coaching, the more I googled, YouTubed, and read articles.
I learned a TON about form and movement. I absorbed anything I could get my hands on about the CrossFit methodology, and I watched hours upon hours of high quality tutorials from really respected sources.
However, I still didn't know if I was doing any of these movements correctly because I could only imaginewhat my body was actuallydoing.
I couldn't coach myself into a good starting position for a snatch. I couldn't notice the early arm pull in my power clean. I couldn't see that my overhead squat was a couple inches shallow.
Instead, I spent time practicing bad habits. Occasionally I would take video of my workouts, and evaluate my form, but the feedback I should have had wasn't there during warm-ups and WODs when I needed it the most.
4. I was alone.
When you're doing CrossFit at home, it can be very discouraging. Everything just feels bad. You go from one movement to another while wanting to vomit, cry, or give up.
When you're doing CrossFit at a box, you'll still want to vomit, cry, or give up sometimes...You just do it next to other people.
Why is that a good thing?
Because those other people are cheering you on between their yawns, whimpers, and panting. Those other people notice when you're good at something, and mention it. Those other people help you see that everyone struggles with something, and everyone has their strengths.
Trust me. You're like the Michael Jordan of toes-to-bar (or something else), you just don't know it yet.
5. Somehow it worked.
Despite all the dumb decisions I made while doing CrossFit at home, I eventually got some actualtraining, and introduced CrossFit to enough people in our community that it took hold.
We now have two CrossFit gyms in a town of 15,000 people, and two high schools in our county offer CrossFit as part of their curriculum.
What would I do differently?
If you're thinking about doing CrossFit at home, I'd encourage you to get some training at a CrossFit gym first.
Be patient. Get some extra eyeballs on your form. Humble yourself enough to be teachable, and take the time to learn what CrossFit is all about from someone who actually knows what they're doing.
If you don't live near a CrossFit gym, I'd encourage you to sign up for a CrossFit Level 1 certificate course.
Whether you end up training other people or not, the skills you'll learn at an L1 certification are WELL worth the investment.
If you're no stranger to CrossFit, we absolutely think you should be doing CrossFit at home, or in fun new places from time to time. The bottom line is that you need to learn the movements before you go throwing weight around.
CrossFit is like a helicopter. If you get the proper training, it can take you to new heights, and places you've never dreamed you could go.
If you try to put the pieces together in your garage without any instructions, it's not going to go well.
Stay safe out there!
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P.S. Unlike the beat-up loaner rope at the globo-gym, our speed ropes come with TWO handles, and they're a great way to get some exercise in wherever you find yourself. Click below to design yours!
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