When I ask my female friends to join a CrossFit class with me, they often roll their eyes. Oh, no, they say. I'm intimidated, it seems scary, I don't want to get big, I only like cardio, I don't like to lift heavy weights, I have a bad back... the excuses go on and on. It doesn't help that we CrossFit women publicly lament our inability to find pants that fit our massive quads or cover our scabby shins or that we can't squeeze our biceps into those cute little cap-sleeved shirts. We're not exactly selling it.
Here's what I wish they knew about CrossFit:
1. You'll get strong and that's a good thing. If you had to pull your 50-pound son back over the edge of a cliff or run with him 5 blocks to the nearest clinic after he wipes out on his skateboard, could you do it? You won't get strong lifting 2-pound dumbbells so get serious about building the body you need for yourself and your family - just in case.
2. CrossFit is incredibly supportive for women. My CrossFit gym is cattiness-free. Sure, we have good-natured rivalries to top the leaderboard, but we women cheer for each other, we push each other, we hug each other. We inspire each other.
3. You'll gain independence. You don't need a man to open that damn peanut butter jar. Get strong so you can move your own furniture. Get flexible so you can zip up the back of the dress yourself. Get fast so you can sprint to the front of the Black Friday line on your own. Don't depend on anyone else. Be your own strength.
4. We're not what you see on ESPN. There are some very amazing athletes at my gym. But for every athlete who can rep out muscle-ups and deadlift 3 times her bodyweight, there are 10 of us still struggling to get pull-ups. We're not the ones you see in the CrossFit Games. No need to be intimidated. Come in, work hard.
5. We represent all ages and stages of life. CrossFit classes are filled with middle-aged dads, suburban stay-at-home moms, 20-year-old college students, grandmothers, bikini models, not-so-much bikini models... you get the idea. We don't all look like Julie Foucher (sadly).
6. Working out with men is good for you. Maybe you're more comfortable exercising in ladies-only gyms or all-female barre classes. But working out alongside men - performing the same movements, racing against the same clock, running the same track - is healthy for you. Women compete against men all the time whether we know it or not, particularly at work, and the last thing you want is to be good for a woman. You want to best everyone. CrossFit gives you a safe space to test your mettle against the boys - and often times, we beat 'em.
7. You can wear a shirt. Forget the pictures you've seen of gorgeous CrossFit women prancing around in their athletic bras with rock-hard abs. We wear shirts. It's fine.
8. We do cardio. If you can't give up your "cardio," don't worry. We do cardio. Only we call it conditioning and I can assure you it's 10 times harder than whatever you're doing in Zumba.
9. We wear cute workout clothes. Do you know why you're now sporting funky tall socks and Lululemon short-shorts at your turbokickboxing class? Because of CrossFit. We CrossFitters catapulted this look to the mainstream, mostly so we could keep our aforementioned scabby shins from getting worse. In any event, you're welcome.
10. CrossFit was made for busy women. If you're juggling a job and family life, or school and career, CrossFit is the perfect program for you. Some of our workouts are 7 minutes long. SEVEN MINUTES. And more, those 7 minutes will do you more good than the 45 minutes you're spending on the elliptical. So why waste all that time? It's as if CrossFit was invented by multi-tasking moms who needed to figure out a way to lift heavy weights, get their heart rates up, and be back in their work clothes before the lunch hour was over.
11. Do it for your kids. Or if you don't have kids, other people's kids. Your nieces and nephews, your cousin's kids, the neighbor's kids. Demonstrate what it's like to be a strong, independent woman for the next generation and inspire them to keep up.