10 Powerful Ways to Up Your Gym Game, According to Women Who Do CrossFit

crossfit classCrossFit isn't JUST a workout. Women who become committed to this hardcore hybrid of interval training, weightlifting, gymnastics, calisthenics (and a bunch of other exercises we've never heard of) consider it a lifestyle -- or even a religion.


That's not to say you have to stop going to church if you start doing WODs ("Workout of the day," in CrossFit speak). But we can all benefit from the words of wisdom that come from burpees and box jumps.

1. Short and sweet is the way to go. According to one study, people who did short 12-minute CrossFit workouts burned an average of 115.8 calories. (That's about what you'd get from walking slowly for 45 minutes.)

2. Variety keeps you committed. Exercise boredom is real -- and a real big reason people lose interest with getting in shape. "I hate running on a treadmill," says Sara B., from Houston, Texas, "but I've been doing CrossFit for six weeks now and have yet to do the same workout twice. It completely keeps my body -- and brain -- engaged."

3. Leaving your comfort zone is a good thing. "There are things in CrossFit I NEVER thought I could do," says Evan C., of New York City. "Being able to push myself and succeed has gotten me into the best shape of my life. Even after I leave the box, that confidence sticks with me."

4. Working out is not a beauty contest. Jill F., of Colorado Springs, Colorado, used to belong to a gym where the focus was on how everyone looked in their workout gear -- and not so much actually getting in shape. "Part of me was caught up in that," she admits. Attending a CrossFit sesh with a friend changed that. "Everyone was sweaty and red-faced and pushing themselves as hard as they could," she explains. "It was the atmosphere I needed. When you work out, you have to be all in."

5. Everyone needs a support system. CrossFit is known for fostering tight-knit communities. And that's what you need to stick with a workout. Having an exercise buddy (or a whole group of 'em) makes you more likely to show up even if you don't feel like getting sweaty. They'll also put the kibosh on your negative self-talk and make time fly by.

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6. Amp it up every once in a while. Incorporating short bursts of speed into a workout improves your aerobic capacity so you can work out harder and longer. Adding this to ANY workout is a cinch. Whether you're walking, swimming, or playing tag with your kids, try pushing yourself harder and faster for just 30 seconds.

7. Watch your carbs. When Margaret B. of Porter, Texas, started CrossFit, she struggled at first. A pal suggested she make some changes to her diet. Out went high-glycemic carbs like cereal, white rice, and crackers. Instead, Margaret began powering up with healthier, low-glycemic choices like fresh fruit, beans, and whole grains. "I have more energy and feel I'm losing weight faster," she says.

8. Flexibility is key to getting in shape. "Crossfit's taught me to be more coordinated and have better balance," says Elle L. of Portland, Oregon. "I'm more flexible now than when I started." Stretching combined with weight lifting is a win-win. Not only do you increase muscle control, but you also lower your risk of injuries, improve your posture, AND have a better chance of staying limber as you age.

9. Get strong from the inside out. Remember the olden days when women were afraid of lifting weights because they didn't want to "bulk up"? Not anymore. Being strong boosts your outward confidence. (Not to mention strength training protects your bones from osteoporosis.)

10. If you're determined to do something, you CAN. So what if you don't LOOK like an athlete? All you need to lose weight and feel stronger is the will to do so. Remember Constance Tillet, the 77-year-old who completely transformed her life through CrossFit? If she can lose 50 pounds and stop taking 60 pills each day for various ailments, then what are YOU waiting for?


Image via iStock.com/kupicoo

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