If CrossFit was a high school student, she'd be Serena Van Der Woodson. Which is to say: the workout trend exists in a world of its own, has amassed a serious following, and has its own special lingo.
But while CrossFit may be the "it girl" of group fitness classes, it's not exclusive. The sport, which combines bodyweight exercises, Olympic weightlifting, gymnastics, and cardio, is not your typical trip to the gym. "CrossFit is not just about movement. It's about using community and coaching to make working out effective and fun," says certified CrossFit trainer, Ian Berger, CF-L1, founder of The Endure Podcast.
Moreover, the workouts are universally scalable, which means that people at all fitness levels, technical ability, and strength can come to a box and do the workout of the day (WOD), explains Berger. And yes, he says, if weight loss is your goal, CrossFit will help you get there. So drop whatever is holding you back and pick up a barbell instead. it's time for your CrossFit transformation.
Don’t Be Intimidated
“I was overweight, out of shape, and broke. I had tried literally every diet out there: cabbage soup diet, cayenne pepper lemonade diet, diet pills, straight-up fasting, low-carb diets… but as soon as I came off the diet, I would gain back everything I had lost.
"That's why I decided to try a six-week beginner CrossFit challenge that popped up on my Facebook newsfeed. Before this, I never liked working out, but once I found the right activity, I couldn't get enough. When the six-week program was over, I joined the box, and 14 months later, I was down 16 kilograms. Then I started working with a nutritionist and I lost another 16 kilograms. Now I've been the same weight for three months, which has never happened in my entire life.
"My advice for someone thinking about CrossFit would be: just try it! And don't be intimidated. Once I finally just bit the bullet and went, I loved it. There were people of all weights, sizes, and fitness abilities there. And I never felt judged for being new or less fit than most of the other members. Every workout is scalable, so we all finish around the same time no matter our levels.
"Working out with people is actually the best part of the sport because they hold you accountable. When you don't show up, everyone wonders where you are. And that’s exactly what CrossFit is: community. The sport and the people seriously changed my life.” — Nyna Gilpin, 33, lost 32 kilograms
“It was 2011. I was a Division 1 soccer player, but I was on the verge of losing my starting position due to weight gain and lack of motivation. Over winter break, my sister begged me to go to a class with her... and I never looked back.
"My original goal was to just lose weight and end my soccer career on a high note. But I lost over 9 kilograms and I not only felt good, I was actually having fun exercising. Three years later, I started to enter CrossFit competitions. Now, I’m the owner of CrossFit Speakeasy, a regional athlete, and I compete all over the world.
"My advice for anyone wanting to try CrossFit is to go to your first class and ask questions. Learn as much as you can about the movements. Ask when you're confused. Seek help if something doesn't feel good. And become part of the community. The atmosphere in a CrossFit gym is all about helping and making each other better. So don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it.
"I promise, you’ll soon look at a newbie in the gym and smile to yourself thinking 'that used to be me,' and you’ll want to help them feel the way you do now.” — Emmy Simpkins, 27, lost 20 kilograms
Only Compare You To You
"When I went in for my annual physical in the fall of 2015, the doctor told me I was pre-diabetic. My dad has been living with Type 2 diabetes for 15 years, so I knew I had to make a change. I ended up at a CrossFit gym only because it was the closest gym to my apartment at the time. Two and a half years later, and I still go to WillyB CrossFit in Brooklyn five times per week.
"The scale hasn’t changed that drastically (because muscle weighs more than fat), but I am in the best shape of my life and I have had two successful annual physicals and am out of the pre-diabetic range.
"If you’re looking for a gym to join, make it a CrossFit gym because the focus is progress in relation to you. For example, it's about how you did on a workout versus how you did on it six months ago when you first did it. It's never about you versus another member.
"If you stick with it, keep pushing yourself, and don’t give up, you’ll see the improvement! No only will your scale number go down, your lift numbers will go up, and your scores on metcons [metabolic conditioning workouts] will improve.” —Marissa Rosenblum, 34, lost 4.5 kilograms
Don't Worry About Getting Bulky
“I was a dancer growing up and all through college. But after graduating, I moved interstate, and gained about seven to 9 kilograms from a sedentary desk job, lots of client dinners, and a never-ending stream of happy hours. So, when my boyfriend opened a CrossFit gym a few blocks from my apartment, I decided to give it a try (even though I was terrified).
"If you’re just getting started with CrossFit, know this: It's 100 percent normal to get frustrated in the beginning. It's not easy to learn a new skill, but I promise it will get easier and more comfortable with practice. And the more you come, the more practice you'll get!
"And if you’ve been delaying joining a box or strength training because you’re scared you'll get 'bulky'... stop! It’s pretty impossible for most women unless you're training and eating like a CrossFit Games athlete.
"I've lost 15-plus pounds and have built muscle in places I never thought possible. But I'm not 'bulky!' I am the most confident I've ever been in my body and I am so proud of the strength I've built!" — Kate Citron, 26, lost seven kilograms
Try Out A Few Different Gyms
"My sister talked me into taking a CrossFit class with her. And I was so bad. Like, bad. But I’ve been doing the sport for a little over three years now.
"I weighed about 95 kilograms when I started, and now I currently sit between 75 to 79 kilograms. CrossFit saved my life. I was an overweight, unhappy recent university grad who didn’t know who she was. Focusing on my health and my goals as a regional CrossFit athlete has opened so many doors for me athletically, professionally, mentally, and emotionally. And I think that these goals are just as (if not more) important than the number of pounds I've lost.
"If you haven’t tried CrossFit, I absolutely suggest going to a free intro class at a few different gyms. See if you like the vibe, the people, and the coaching because every box has its own personality.
"You want to pick a box you mesh with it because it will make sticking with it so much easier once you get started. And if you don't like the vibe of the first box you try out, that's okay! I promise a gym you will like exists.” —Kels Kiel, 26, lost 18-plus kilograms
Stick It Out For At Least A Week
"When I originally signed up for CrossFit, my initial goal was to lose some weight, a hopeful five to seven kilograms. However, I ended up gaining so much muscle that my weight actually didn't change much.
"I've only lost two kilograms in the two years since joining, but my body has completely changed: I lost inches around my waist and the belly fat that I had almost given up hope on losing has actually shrunk! I also get compliments on my arms now (don't hate that!).
"If you are thinking about joining CrossFit to lose weight, just do it. Everyone has to start somewhere, which means everyone has had a first class. No one will judge you for being new or not knowing certain movements, because everyone was the new kid at one time!
"Plus, you'll be surprised how many people in class have only been doing it for a month or two. And by the end of the week you won't feel like the new kid anymore, so make sure you stick it out!” —Jana Ford, 35, lost two kilograms
Commit To Four Workouts Per Week
“After two years of working a desk job, I had gained weight and my joints were really hurting me. I went on Groupon and found a great deal on a three-week intro course at a CrossFit box. Somehow I made it through the three weeks and graduated into the regular classes...and I got hooked.
"For the first time in my life, I looked forward to working out. In four months, I lost 9 kilograms. I got faster and stronger. And I felt happier.
"If you're using CrossFit to lose weight, it works. But you have to commit to going at least four times per week! Because as with any weight-loss effort, consistency is key. If you stick with it and eat right, you will definitely lose fat. But the best part is that once you get into the sport, your goals will start being less about losing weight and more about improving on workouts." —Srabone Monir, 30, lost 13 kilograms
"My husband and I both got into it by chance when a box opened around the corner from us. What can I say? It was January and we were in the New Year’s resolution phase! After a few classes, I was enjoying it so much that I realised I had to make the time. I felt so empowered, like I was finally doing something for myself. I lost seven kilograms within the first six months.
"I promise that anyone can CrossFit! It may be intimidating at first. But the community aspect of it is great and nobody cares how heavy you lift or how fast you go. They only care that you work as hard as you possibly can. It’s about the effort you put in, and if you work hard, you WILL see results.
"So start now! Once you go and see results, you’ll wish you had started earlier. Thanks to CrossFit, I’m 40 and in the best shape of my life!” —Vivian Tong, 40, lost seven kilograms
Be Open To Failing
“Once I got to university, I gained 9 kilograms in six months. I knew I needed to get back in control of my life. I've been doing CrossFit for five years now.
"I initially lost 9 kilograms but have gained about four of those back in muscle (and I have worked hard for every single one of those kilos!). CrossFit has made me feel more empowered and I love my body now. Now, as a CrossFit coach, I try to help others feel the same way about themselves!
"When you first start CrossFit, my advice is to just go to class with a positive mind and be open to learning and failing. It is 100 percent okay to not get something right the first thousand times you try it. Just keep showing up for yourself and it'll come faster than you think.
"Whether you're trying to lose weight or learn the movements, remember that it's a journey. It won't happen overnight. It will happen with consistency and showing up." —Stephanie Bolivar, 26, lost 9 kilograms
Look At More Than Just The Scale
"I made the switch to CrossFit after years of spin classes and some light weight lifting. There just wasn’t enough variety in the spin classes to keep me mentally stimulated. CrossFit had been highly recommended to me by friends and it looked to be that ideal formula—'Do this, work hard, stay dedicated, see results.'
"And after five years of CrossFit, I certainly have. Losing weight wasn’t necessarily the reason I joined, but seeing my body change to be something leaner and stronger has been the biggest reward for every day of hard work I do in the gym.
"If you’re coming to CrossFit to lose weight, make sure you’re not just looking at the scale. Look in the mirror, measure your body fat composition, and see how your clothes are fitting. Find a way to measure your goals that doesn't involve counting pounds! Because the healthiest thing I’ve found about CrossFit is that it’s not about a number on a scale, it’s about how you look and feel, and—most importantly—the confidence you have in yourself."— Kimberly Sweeney, 32, lost seven kilograms
This article originally appeared on Women's Health US