CrossFit Isn’t What You Think It Is

by Tammy Hoefer

Since starting CrossFit about 6 years ago I have heard a lot of myths and misinformation about CrossFit and I have remained relatively silent.  After all, what did it matter to me? I was doing it and I loved it! Who cares what others think, right?

Recently I had the opportunity to complete my CrossFit Level 1 training and many of these myths have resurfaced in conversation: “I have to be fit to join”, “I couldn’t possibly do the workouts”, “it’s intimidating”, “it will make be bulky”, “it’s too expensive”.  I realized that these things were actually holding people back from pursuing better health through fitness, so how can I stay silent?  CrossFit – it’s not what you think it is!


Let’s kill the first two myths – you don’t have to be fit to join, and you can do the workouts.

By definition CrossFit is constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity.  What’s important to note here is the intensity.  Intensity is relative to your physical and psychological tolerance, not mine and not the person working out next to you.  For example, one would never expect a first time runner to go out and complete a half marathon or a first time figure skater to go out and execute a double sow cow. Why would we think that someone new to CrossFit would be able to do pull-ups, push ups, or ring dips?  CrossFit is one of the most scalable sports around; literally every workout can be scaled relative to the person performing it. Here are some scaling examples for the movements mentioned above:

  • Pull-ups – jumping pull-ups, ring row, band assisted pull-ups
  • Push-ups – wall push ups, knee push ups, slow negatives
  • Ring dips – floor push up, ring support hold, ring push up, box dip, band assisted ring dip

Whether you are an experienced athlete, a new mom trying to regain her fitness, or someone’s grandparent, there are movements you can perform relative to your abilities.  And the best news is, you will only get stronger, fitter, faster.


Yes, CrossFit is intimidating, but are you letting it intimidate you for the right or wrong reasons?

If you are intimidated because you’ve watched those incredible CrossFit athletes perform at the Games and think that is what’s going to be expected of you, see above. My husband doesn’t watch Sidney Crosby play hockey and think this is how his team is expecting him to play on Wednesday nights.  These professional CrossFit athletes constitute less than .5% of the CrossFit population[1].  Did you know that out of the 153,243 women in the 2017 CrossFit Open, only 40 competed in the CrossFit Games?  This is what your average CrossFit athlete and gym looks like – not so intimidating is it!?

Friendly & encouraging

If you are intimidated because it will challenge you, good.  If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.

[1] Based on 2017 CrossFit Open RX Female registration


Granted I mostly hear this from females but perhaps there are a few men out there who worry about this.  Fact: fat makes you look bulky. If you want to lose body fat and gain muscle mass (or tone up), CrossFit can do this for you.  How much body fat you lose and muscle you gain is relative, relative to what you eat, how many times per week you train, and how you train. The elite athletes pictured below are at the peak of their conditioning; they train 6+ hours each day and eat to support maximum muscle growth. The average CrossFit athlete attends a 1-hour class 3-5 days per week.

CFPG community

Personally, women with muscles inspire me; it’s a testament to their dedication and strength. I would encourage you to challenge society’s (and potentially your own) perceptions about what women should look like and focus more on the health benefits of muscle mass.

Remember:  More muscle = more calories burned


 Yes, CrossFit memberships are typically more than a global gym, but here’s why: Let’s say you pay $140/month and you attend classes 4 days a week. That works out to be around $9 per session for programmed workouts (including scaling), wide variety, small group personal training with trained professional coaches, the use of the facility and equipment, and one of the most supportive communities you can imagine.  I’d say that’s worth it!

If you have been thinking about trying CrossFit but were put off by any of the above myths, my best advice is to just try it, what have you got to lose?