From Figure to Crossfit

A few months ago I decided to hang up my clear plastic heels for a pair of Inov-8s.  To be honest, competing lost its luster for me: I was bored and just tired of too much structure, to be honest.  I was also exhausted with how competing made me view food.  Food is fuel, but there are also times in life when cake and ice cream are a necessity.  Feeling guilty for eating “off plan” is never something anyone should face, and it just seemed so silly to me that I had to bring food with me everywhere.  A girl can only eat room temp chicken and sweet potatoes so many times before she’ll lose her marbles.

I’ve also been dating a guy who has made me view training in a completely different light.  Some may say I’m drinking his Kool-Aid, and that may be the case.  But, at the end of the day, I’m happier, healthier, and am feeling more athletic than I have since I played sports in college.   What I really have enjoyed lately is going into the gym and working out with him.  He pushes me; he makes me better.  I work harder when he’s around because I want to impress him and show him that his woman is capable of kicking someone’s butt in a bar fight.  It’s the little things, folks.

I know there are A LOT of people who are anti-CrossFit:  I used to be one of them.  From a personal training standpoint, the programming never made sense to me.  It just seemed like people were throwing really hard exercises together in a “WOD” and naming it after a woman just because they could.  It’s hard just for the sake of being hard.  And, like most of you, I’ve seen the horrible videos on YouTube – people who are 0.25 seconds away from a spinal injury while coaches in the background yell “C’mon, bro!  Get it up!”  While there are times that I still see WODs that make me scratch my head from a programming standpoint, I will say this: not all CrossFit boxes are created equal.  I’ve been to 4 in the Raleigh-Durham area within the last few months, and they ALL have impressed me.  Not once have I felt pressure to use a weight that is beyond my comfort zone, and form is ALWAYS the focus.  Additionally, all of the boxes I’ve been to have “Fundamentals” classes where they take about a month to walk you through all of the CrossFit lifts/skills that you’ll perform in a WOD.  As a result, by the time you join a regular class, you know what you’re doing, can perform the lifts and skills correctly, and can then work on building strength and speed.

I find that most people fear and slander what they do not fully comprehend.  So, what is CrossFit?  It’s constantly varied high-intensity functional movement.  The foundation for everything is nutrition, then metabolic conditioning, then gymnastics, followed by weightlifting/throwing, and topped off by sport.  They believe the essence of fitness is power and speed, which are achieved by neurological fitness (balance, coordination, agility, and accuracy) and physical skills (strength, stability, endurance, and stamina).  CrossFit uses a combination of weightlifting, gymnastics, running, and rowing, which are all scaled to suit different abilities.  By following the prescribed WODs, by developing skills, by eating properly, and by improving mobility, you increase your work capacity over time and through different physical modalities.  All of that means you can do more work in less time and achieve great results.  And, above all else, it is functional fitness.  What does that mean?  That means when I help my friends move, I can clean and press one of their heavy boxes over my head with no problem.  It means when the Zombie Apocalypse occurs, I’ll be one of the few to actually survive.  People get their panties in a bunch over the “proper form” of a kipping pullup, but when a zombie is chasing you, are you really going to care how you pull yourself up over a fence?  Me thinks not.

Lifting for bodybuilding/figure purposes seems different to me now.  It’s completely different when you lift to make your body LOOK a certain way versus lifting to make your body PERFORM a certain way.  I’m focused on strength, speed, power, and agility.  I’m cleaning, snatching, squatting, and deadlifting more than I ever have and it is FUN as hell.   I’m also sprinting, rowing, throwing around kettlebells, and jumping rope.  I’m lean, mean, fast, and strong.  And pressing your bodyweight over your head and then throwing it onto the floor is VERY gratifying after a crappy day at work, I assure you.

As I’ve stated, not all CrossFit boxes are created equal.  Are there some that don’t emphasize form and people get hurt?  Sure.  But I really think those are the minority.  As with everything, the junk rises to the surface and is the most visible, so this is always what we see videos of.  But every day, I see men and women at CrossFit Durham busting their butts, working hard, and encouraging each other.  I see people achieving personal records, performing in ways they never thought they would or could, and I see people thriving.   People call CrossFit a cult.  Is it?  Maybe.  But how is that any different from Zumba?  P90-X?  Figure competitions/bodybuilding?  It’s all cultish in the sense that it’s a community that is passionate about something.  So, maybe I’m drinking the Kool-Aid; it tastes damn good and makes me look sexy, so I’m gonna keep on drinking.

Beth is a former NPC and OCB Figure competitor who has recently decided to trade in her heels for a pair of Inov-8s. Beth is now actively pursuing CrossFit and loves feeling like a true athlete again. Beth spends most of her free time working on her Oly lifts at CrossFit Durham, playing with her dog, and cooking with her boyfriend, who thinks he could win every episode of Chopped.


  • Gina

    Yep I’ve drank the Kool-aid too! I like that I have a cult to support my HEALTHY ways like not drinking and eating healthy. I never feel strange when ordering water or wanting something semi healthy when all the gym peeps go out… It’s great! (Whereas with other friends they may try to guilt you into eating their crap and then getting sick as a result.)

  • Karen

    For me, one of the best things about joining Crossfit has been the people. They are wonderfully supportive – pushing me to be my best. I have gladly joined the cult and I think in the end, I am better for it.

    P.S. I think you would win the bar fight.

    • Beth P

      Couldn’t agree more. The community feel is what it’s all about!!