The Rookie Diaries: Roadtesting the Latest Fitness Craze: CrossFit!

If you’re like me, you’re not exactly fluent in fitness-speak. I just recently learned what interval training is (alternating intense bouts of exercise, like sprinting, with a less strenuous activity, like walking). The latest phrase being bandied about in the fitness world is “CrossFit” training. To find out what all the buzz was about, I consulted Larysa DiDio, a celebrity trainer (her clients include the amazing Nastia Luikin!) and personal fitness coach in New York City. She gave me a tutorial and then put me through the paces of a beginner’s CrossFit routine. Below, a basic FAQ and the routine Larysa developed for me (based on her NITRO workout, which is a more streamlined version of CrossFit but with maximum results), which you can try on your own at the gym or in your living room.

What is CrossFit?
“It’s a type of training that gives you cardio, strength, flexibility and stamina benefits, all in 10 to 20 minutes,” says Larysa. “You do a series of exercises back-to-back, with the goal of performing them as quickly as you can within a fixed amount of time. Another element of CrossFit is that it changes every day, so you never get bored. Your trainer gives you a new routine daily—known in CrossFit speak as WOD, or “workout of the day,” or you can sign up for emails at a CrossFit Web site, such as Crossfit.com, and have your workouts sent to you daily.”

What are the benefits of doing CrossFit as opposed to other types of exercise programs?
“If you’re strapped for time, it’s the way to go,” Larysa says. “It’s also ideal if you get bored easily, because you get a new routine each day. Plus, mixing it up is great for your muscles, because they never have the chance to adapt—they’re always learning to do something new, so you’ll never plateau and stop seeing results. And CrossFit training works your core, which is important for preventing injury.”

“Unlike interval training, CrossFit doesn’t build in downtime or recovery periods, which accounts for the brevity of the routine. But you can modify some of moves to be less strenuous to give your body a chance to recover if need be. Or you can take a break at any time, really. You’re basically in competition with yourself, so listen to your body,” she says.

Not to mention, the three circuits I did burned about 200 calories—not bad considering I made a time investment of only 15 minutes!

Who can do CrossFit?
“Anyone, although you should definitely visit a gym that offers CrossFit training and get professional instruction at least once before trying it on your own. Most of the exercises are basic—like squats, pushups or bicycles. And even though the goal is to go quickly and increase your speed, you can go at your own pace,” she says. “Many CrossFit programs do require gym equipment, however, which is why I developed the NITRO program—it’s a simpler, pared-down CrossFit anyone can do, anywhere.”

Larysa’s Basic CrossFit Workout
I did the below circuit three times and I can tell you two things: 1) It’s definitely a workout (I was sore—in a good way—the next day) and 2) It’s the speediest workout I’ve ever completed. In less than 15 minutes, I’d completed three circuits and worked my core, arms, legs and back and my heart rate was pumping. Check out the video below to watch Larysa demo the circuit so you can practice safe form.

She recommends you do it three days a week (every other day) in place of your regular strength training routine (but in addition to your normal cardio workouts), and do as many circuits as you can within 15 minutes. Drink water as needed to stay hydrated. Ready, set … begin!

• 20 jumping jacks

• 10 squat thrusts with jumps (I didn’t know what these were; now I do, and I hate them! For a detailed description of squat thrusts with jumps, also called burpees, check out Best Life fitness expert click here to check it out.)

• 10 bicycles

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