Stepping foot into a CrossFit gym as a senior can be a little intimidating. You might feel as if CrossFit is meant more for the younger crowd and for people who are already in good shape. Plus, you might be afraid of getting hurt during a tough CrossFit workout!
Seniors can do CrossFit. That’s because CrossFit is about making personal fitness improvements, building up your strength at your own pace, and adding variety to your workouts. For seniors, CrossFit is a great way to find the motivation to exercise and work on improving functional movements.
You might be a little nervous about signing up for classes at the local CrossFit gym. So, let’s go over the ins and outs of CrossFit and why this is a great style of workout for seniors!
What a CrossFit Workout Is Like
Before you step foot into a CrossFit gym, you want to know exactly what you’re getting yourself into. After all, a CrossFit workout is likely nothing like the workouts you’ve done in the past.
CrossFit workouts take place in “the box,” which is the code name for your CrossFit gym. Your workouts will be known as a “WOD” or “Workout of the Day.”
Every time you step into the box, you’ll have a brand new WOD.
CrossFit exercises include just about any type of movement that can improve your fitness in some way. Some examples of CrossFit exercises include:
- Short-distance running (usually up to a mile)
- Bodyweight exercises (push-ups, burpees, pull-ups, etc.)
- Weightlifting & powerlifting (clean and jerk, deadlift, squat, etc.)
- Rope climbing, box jumps, etc.
There are also a few different types of workouts.
Some will require you to do as many repetitions as you can in a specific amount of time. Other workouts are meant to see how quickly you can complete a given workout.
The intensity of your workout is really up to you.
Building a Sense of Community
There’s nothing like having a workout buddy to motivate you to get into the gym.
But as a senior, it might be difficult to find somebody that’s even close to as motivated as you are. People your age just might not be interested in something as intense as CrossFit.
What makes CrossFit so great is the sense of community.
Once you join a CrossFit gym, you’re surrounded by people with the same interests as you – getting fit and staying healthy. And since CrossFit is more about personal improvement than setting world records, the people you’re surrounded by are looking out for your best interest.
You’ll have people right by your side, cheering you on as you find the energy to complete your workout. This can help to keep you motivated to finish your workout to the best of your ability.
But what’s even better is these relationships outside of the box.
CrossFit is a great way to expand your social relationships and meet new people. It’ll definitely be easier to drag yourself to the gym when you realize that you’re surrounded by friends. You might even plan meetups on your days off!
Focusing on Functional Movements
Resistance training is definitely an important focus when it comes to maintaining strength in muscles and joints. The problem with a regular strength training routine is that it doesn’t really transition over to your daily life.
For example, a bicep curl doesn’t really do much other than build bicep strength.
That’s why workouts in your senior years should focus on something called “functional movement.” These are different types of exercises that are similar to the tasks you do in your normal everyday life.
What’s great about CrossFit is that it’s loaded with these types of exercises.
Doing squats in your WOD is a great way to improve your lower body strength to help you get in and out of chairs. That’s just like how doing overhead presses at CrossFit can build your upper body strength so you can lift heavy items above your head to put them on a shelf.
Using Modified Exercises
Exercising in your senior years is definitely something you need to do to stay healthy.
At the same time, you might be losing up to 5% of your muscle mass each decade after you hit 30. Then there’s the chance that you have conditions like osteoporosis (brittle bones) or even arthritis (aching or stiff joints).
That means that some exercises can be painful or plain impossible for you right now.
But what’s great about CrossFit is that you can modify just about every exercise that you do to make them a little easier.
When it comes to weightlifting and powerlifting, you can choose a weight that you’re capable of lifting without hurting yourself. For exercises like push-ups, there are ways to modify the exercise (like on your knees or incline push-ups) to make them less intense.
After all, the purpose of CrossFit is to improve your strength so that you can make improvements at your own pace.
You don’t have to risk injury doing an exercise that you’re just not ready for.
Doing Something New Everyday
It can be hard to stick to a workout routine when you’re doing the same thing every single day. That’s especially the case if you’re not really motivated by lifting heavier weights or running faster than before.
You’ll love that CrossFit is all about variety.
Every time you walk into your CrossFit gym for a class, you’re doing a workout that you’ve probably never done before. The surprise of what your WOD might be is also a possible motivating factor to get to the gym in the first place.
One day might be heavy on running while another day might seem centered around weightlifting. Either way, it’s going to be interesting!
Going at Your Own Pace
Even if you’re a competitive person, CrossFit isn’t about being the best in your class. Your workouts will be about pushing yourself to your physical and mental limits to the best that you can possibly do.
That’s why CrossFit is laid out the way it is.
Unlike a group fitness class, not everybody is doing the same exact thing as you at the same time. Everybody is performing the workout at their own pace and progressing through the workout on their own.
That also means you don’t have to worry about skipping out on exercises or ending your workout early in fear that you’re holding everybody else back.
How to Stay Safe
While CrossFit is definitely a possibility for you as a senior, not everybody will enjoy a CrossFit-style workout. And to keep yourself safe during a CrossFit workout, here’s what you’ll need to do:
- Listen to your body. Don’t feel like you have to go to CrossFit every single day. If you’re still feeling achy or if you feel under the weather, it’s okay to skip your WOD and try again tomorrow. Likewise, tone down a workout if you don’t feel well.
- Consider your limits. You’re the only one that knows your personal limits. Think about any health conditions or previous injuries that you have. Make sure you’re not making either of these worse in your workout.
- Give yourself time to rest. The last thing you want to do is push yourself too hard where you pull a muscle or even overwork your heart. Start out with a few WODs a week at first, and, as you build up your fitness, begin going more.
Safety is the most important part of working out. And since the rates of injury in CrossFit are decently high, you’ll really want to consider your own limitations.
There’s no reason that seniors shouldn’t be able to do CrossFit. That’s because CrossFit is meant for anyone of any skill level, age, gender, and more. It’s more about improving your own fitness at your own pace.
With that said, there are some precautions you’ll want to take.
You want to make sure that you’re not overdoing it and that you’re consulting your doctor before getting involved at the CrossFit gym.