I could’ve done with a glossary when I started CrossFit. I still remember it clearly. Standing alone in the middle of the gym, buff blokes around me lifting twice my body weight, clutching my new workout programme – with absolutely no clue what to do for the simple reason that at the top of the sheet it said, in massive letters: ‘WOD‘. I had no idea what it meant, and I really didn’t want to embarrass myself by asking (what if it was a typo and didn’t mean anything?). After about ninety agonising seconds of dithering, I made a decision: I’d just ignore those three letters, and do the exercises in my programme regardless. No one would know. There’s probably some very British ‘Keep Calm and Pretend It Isn’t There, and Just Go and Do Some CrossFit Anyway’ message in there – but if there was then I missed it, because I didn’t really know what CrossFit was at the time.
You see, you avoid these problems if you join a proper CrossFit box. There are plenty of things where going off-piste produces great results and should be encouraged: but may I suggest that learning the basics of CrossFit isn’t one of them.
The next time I saw the author of my programme, I took a deep breath and asked the same question as many a shiny new CrossFitter: ‘what’s WOD?’. And so began my steep learning curve with Workout Of the Day (ohhhhhhh) and intimate relationship with Grace and Kelly, AMRAPs, KGB (the non-Russian variety) and, my current favourite, Barbara. Great name, Barbara. Not as easy as she sounds though.
You may, at this stage, be wondering what on earth I’m talking about.
The trouble is, a typical conversation between two CrossFitters will make little or no sense to a non-CrossFitter (a Straight-Up). Quite aside from the plethora of acronyms and women’s names, said Straight-Up will be flummoxed by the amount of time spent comparing hand callouses and shin grazes. On the injury front, a Straight-Up will neither realise nor appreciate the sheer volume of actual blood, sweat and tears that contribute to each callous or scar. The energy involved in creating them almost dictates we must flaunt them with pride, as we would a beautifully-decorated cake or a very cute puppy. CrossFitters are becoming easier to pick out, and I have included a useful Fashionista’s Guide to CrossFitter-Spotting for your reference (trust me, this will be more fun than trainspotting, largely as it involves zero trains and lots of people-watching, my favourite habit).
Said conversation will also undoubtedly include reference to one or more women of slightly unusual name, whom you don’t think you’ve met before – but then why are they being so mean about her? Is she a crazy ex you never knew about? There has to be some reason they’re calling her every expletive under the sun…
Take Fran, for example. To a Straight-Up she is just a girl’s name. To a CrossFitter, she is anything but. Fran goes a little something like this:
Thrusters (95lbs for men, 65lbs for women)
That’s it. Do 21 of each, then 15 of each, then 9 – that’s all there is to it. Try it – or even just YouTube it – and you’ll soon see why those CrossFitters were calling her names. She is the most feared and revered of all WODs, so if you’re starting out you may want to try your luck with one of her slightly less harsh sisters, like Kelly:
5 rounds of:
30 box jumps
30 wall ball
She’s still enough to make you want to lie down in a dark room for a while though, be warned!
What to wear
If you’re wondering what to wear for these WODs, I highly recommend KGB Clothing or Kit4Sports knee socks and Reebok Speed Nano Shorts which come in black and red. Under Armour compression sports bras are fantastic too, and they’re only £16 so you can get one in every colour!
Fashionista’s Guide to CrossFitter-Spotting
Fidgeting with hand callouses
Drinking copious amounts of water or coconut water
Prone to public displays of movements such as squats and possibly handstands.
Shorts, even in winter (not to be confused with socks-and-sandals, which no self-respecting CrossFitter would tolerate)
Gym clothing and sports bras (the women) when nowhere near a gym
Vest tops that show off fabulously toned shoulders
Knee socks – men and women – when one is long past school age. Yes, it can be done, and yes, it can look good.
WOD – Workout Of the Day
AMRAP – As Many Rounds or Reps As Possible
PB (or PR) – Personal Best (cause for celebration!)
Paleo – diet followed by many a CrossFitter, centred around caveman-style nutrition (lots of bacon but not much pizza)
Fran, Grace, Kelly, Angie etc – WOD names. Either that or your boyfriend has a bit on the side
Thrusters, pull ups, snatch, clean and jerk – functional movements that are part of daily life for a CrossFitter. As you can imagine with those types of names, much banter surrounds most CrossFit classes.
So there you have it: go forth and see how many CrossFitters you can spot today! And remember to order your Under Armour goodies while you’re at it. Any WOD is made significantly easier by wearing the right workout gear.
Lucy Denver is a freelance fitness and motivational copywriter with a keen interest in unique fashion, travel, CrossFit and making sushi. For more information or to get in touch, you can follow her on Twitter @denvertronix.