In part 2 of this interview with Aaron Hewitt, PA-C, the CrossFit competitor talks about preventing injuries, listening to your body and the benefits to cyclists.
About.com: What tips can you give people who want to try CrossFit?
Hewitt: CrossFit isn’t the same every day. In fact it’s rarely the same. You’ll do some of the same exercises but in all kinds of different combinations and versions. You will work a variety of weights from kettlebells to dumbbells to weight bars, punching bags and more.
I would advise the following:
Scalability. Athletes work at different levels and abilities. A good program will offer scalability options.
Find a gym with quality trainers and coaches. A coach should be willing to work with you one-on-one. Many gyms offer a first free class so it’s okay to try a few out if you don’t like the first one.
Ease into it. Start easy, work through any initial soreness, and gradually push yourself. It takes a while to get used to CrossFit or any new exercise program.
Listen to your body. Anything done in excess has an inherent risk of injury, but stop if something hurts or bothers you. RICE treatment (rest, ice, compression, elevation) is the best way to treat small aches and pains, but seek medical treatment such as a sports medicine provider if it hasn’t improved in two days.
About.com: If not already answered, how can people prevent injuries while maximizing the fun and athletic benefits of CrossFit?
Hewitt: People tend to try to do too much too fast, especially at the beginning of a new year. Relatively inactive people who decide to try this type of workout can overdo it. They key is to start slow. Progress slowly and work with someone that scales the workout to your abilities. Any quality class or CrossFit box (gym) will offer scalability options and coaches who help you ease into it. Look for classes that are not too big and that will give you individual attention. People also need to be realistic about their abilities. CrossFit offers a huge window for self-improvement but it won’t happen at once. Like the tortoise and the hare, slow and steady is the way to go.
About.com: How might practicing CrossFit safely benefit cyclists?
Hewitt: Functional movements are one of the most important components of CrossFit. Functional movements sound complicated but they’re just natural, compound body movements that use multiple joints in your body. Think about when you have to squat to pick up a large box, carry something heavy up several flights of stairs, sprint on your bike or climb a hill. On your bike you’re working with physical movements like load, distance and speed. CrossFit training is designed to help develop skills to improve the human body’s capacity to perform when those high-intensity movements are required. Also, CrossFit affects your proprioception, or your own awareness of your body in space, its strength and all its components in relation to your movements. CrossFit training exercises focus on balance and agility, which strengthens your proprioception, which lead to a strong athletic baseline.
About.com: Please feel free to include anything else.
Hewitt: What people see on ESPN and in the CrossFit games is a very select elite few. At my gym, one of my friends is a 50-year old woman living with multiple sclerosis. And yet another is a former football player at Clemson. They may not do the workout on the same scale, but we all do the workout together and it all benefits us in the same way.
Read Part 1 of this interview here.