Why do women CrossFit: It’s that time of year, between the 2013 CrossFit Games and the 2014 CrossFit Games Open, a sort of calm between storms but you feel something is brewing, so I thought this would be an interesting article to write, noting how the women from our box were just as excited about the competitors and the results as the men, and are already training hard for their chance in the Open.

In my 24 months of CrossFitting, I have heard many different answers to this question. Some are obvious, while others aren’t so much. When you read them, you may recognize a little bit of a few of them in yourself. The interesting thing is so many of these answers also were given by men (even if they won’t admit it in public!).

Let’s start with the top answer:

  1. To lose weight. That’s always one of the standard answers as to why anyone begins any type of exercise and it’s a great answer! Everyone has their weight loss goals and exercise is a must for achieving them.
  2. To look better in a swimsuit or in a certain outfit for an important upcoming event. High school reunion, college reunion, wedding, etc. Everyone has had a special event where they wanted to look absolutely stunning and sometimes that goal is what motivates a person to think outside the box and step inside a box and get fit! Everybody has a little vanity in them and that’s not a bad thing. We all want to look better and CrossFit is a vehicle to achieve that quickly.
  3. Boredom. This was mine. I was bored, was online shopping, and saw a Groupon. I was instantly interested after reading the description of CrossFit and totally bored with La Globo Gym, so I bought it! Now it took me a few months to get the courage to actually USE the Groupon, but I did. After the first class which was more difficult than I thought, I wasn’t sure I’d go back but then something happened that was unexpected. Another CrossFitter in my class stopped his run to walk with me, (Thank you Scott!) and told me I was doing great. I laughed and said “But I can’t even finish the runs!” and his reply was “You’re here, that’s more than most people can say. Now just keep going!” And I was hooked. That camaraderie and support was so surprising and so different that I wanted to be a part of it. 22 months later I have finished 2 back to back half marathons and just did another a few weeks ago. I couldn’t have done that had I not found CrossFit and stuck with it.
  4. Endurance. I need to follow up on the half marathons comment. I did one in DC at the end of April and did the Pittsburgh Half the following Sunday. That was the last long mileage I have run…May 5th!!! I have run a mile whenever we had to in a WOD but that was it. On November 3rd, I ran a 10 miler and then immediately ran a 5k. In total, it was 13.1 miles. I took 31 seconds off my mile pace WITHOUT RUNNING ANY TRAINING RUNS!!! How is this possible, you ask? Well, I went from CrossFitting 3 days a week to 5 days a week. Without logging any training miles running, CrossFit built my endurance so that I was able to shave off time from my pace without the pounding mileage that non-CrossFitting runners endure. Hmmm…think runners should maybe give CrossFit a try if they want to cut their times and up their endurance ?!?!!
  5. To feel better about themselves. Exercise produces endorphins, endorphins elevate one’s mood. (I almost hit the full Legally Blonde reference there) That’s a fact. People who exercise regularly have lower stress, lower rate of depression and are generally much more positive people. There’s nothing like the feeling of nailing your first kipping pull-up or hitting a 243# deadlift when you used to just robotically go through the circuit machines at the local Globo Gym just to hurry and finish so as to delude yourself that you had actually “worked out”. That amazing feeling makes you want to chase it to feel it again. That makes you work harder to see more results. Every little goal set and accomplished is one more piece of personal armor to draw strength from when just life’s daily events test your patience, resolve and confidence.
  6. To push their physical limits. Who says women can’t train like men? I submit that a lot of the women I know train HARDER than the average man. Training to reach your peak fitness level is a commitment that needs to be taken seriously. Once hit, you find that there’s more to accomplish so the bar is raised again. That drive and determination exists as strongly in women as in men, proven this past summer by Samantha Briggs and Lindsey Valenzuela who came in 1st and 2nd as the two fittest women on earth. Hearing their interviews on training and pushing themselves made me want to work harder to hit goals that I have.
  7. Friendships. This isn’t usually a reason women start CrossFitting unless they come to a box with a friend to check it out, but I believe it is definitely a reason they continue. When you don’t think you can hit one more rep or last 22 more seconds during an AMRAP, having your friends cheer you on like you’re winning the Olympics is powerful stuff and makes you finish hard and strong. This is what is unique about the CrossFit Community. The people in your class know how hard it is to do what we do and recognize when someone needs a little encouragement to keep going. This is why CrossFit tends to weed people out naturally. Not everyone will like it or can physically take the demands it places on you and that’s okay. It’s not for everyone…but for those who it IS for, you develop friendships born of making sweat angels and chalk patterns as you struggle through a difficult WOD. You’ve battled through it together and that is a bond that unites strangers to become friends. The friendships I have made through CrossFit I count as some of my most dear and rewarding friendships I have ever made.
  8. Something to do with a loved one. It’s not uncommon to see CrossFit couples or CrossFit families. When you love something you share it with those you love, right? If they love it too, you have now found an activity that can be done together that will never get monotonous. The couple that CrossFits together, stays together!
  9. To prove it to yourself. This, I think, is one that may not be forefront in your mind but may be a by-product of actually becoming a CrossFitter. I wanted to prove it to myself and to those who told me I was crazy for trying some of the stuff we do, that I could do it! It was the adult version of sticking out my tongue and saying “I told you so, told you I could do it!” See, I don’t like being told that I can’t do something. All that does is make me want to do whatever it is I’m told that I can’t. CrossFit is one of those things people told me I couldn’t do, shouldn’t do, shouldn’t do as a female, blah, blah, blah. Just like I told that guy to not wear skinny jeans in public, but he did anyway…I did it anyway. I needed to quiet the nay-sayers along with the negative voice in my own head that told me I couldn’t do the stuff a CrossFitter does. Can I do it all? Heck no, but guess what? SO WHAT! I’m trying, every day, to get better. I can do things now that I couldn’t do when I first started, or even 3 months ago! Sometimes a little resistance from others or even from yourself is all that separates you from a breakthrough in realizing just how powerful and strong you are both mentally and physically.
  10. More shoes. Ha ha, not really, but face it…we get to buy more shoes! You have to get the proper CrossFit sneaker and then you have to get more than one pair. Then you need Oly Lifters. And then you need new running sneakers for WODs with long runs, and maybe the newly released very first CrossFit Running shoe! (yes I ordered them)  but on a side note…you can just as easily find me in my Nanos as you can in my Jimmy Choos. And I love them both. I hate it when women tell me I’m crazy for wearing heels all day long at work, just as much as I don’t like it when men tell me they can’t picture me in Oly lifters. Why can’t a woman have her shoes and wear them too?!? I saw a CrossFit friend one day at a gas station and I laughed when she opened her trunk to show me her shoes for her road trip: just as many pairs of heels as sneakers. I loved it!! So don’t tell us we don’t need another pair because it will only make us buy two!

So why do women CrossFit? For the same and not so same reasons as men. Mainly? Because we can.

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