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  • Writer's pictureSpencer Smith

Fear of the Unknown

“Isn’t that dangerous?"

“I want to try it, but it’s so intimidating.”

“I can’t do what those people are doing."

“I need to get in shape before I can do it.”

Sound familiar? It certainly does to me. The #1 concern people volunteer to me when I tell them I coach CrossFit is FEAR. And I get it. Between what you see on social media, what you read on the internet from fitness “experts” and what you heard from your co-worker about their cousin’s bad experience at that one gym, it’s understandable to be apprehensive about trying this particular exercise trend. But it shouldn’t be for one very important reason: good coaching. Coaching is what separates CrossFit from many other fitness trends. Yes, there are bad trainers out there, and yes, you CAN get hurt lifting weights or doing pull-ups… but you can also get hurt playing tennis or going for a walk with an overzealous dog. If you don’t think so, feel free to take my four-legged beast for a jaunt sometime ;-)

The reason this type of training can be scary is the same reason that it can be so effective! It’s like a potent medicine - if not taken in the proper dose and according to your doctor's instructions, those pills can cause unwanted side effects. In the same way, ANY type of exercise can be harmful if done recklessly. However, if you “leave your ego at the door” and heed the instruction of a good coach, functional movements such as squats, deadlifts, push-ups, and pull-ups are POWERFUL in increasing both your longevity and capacity. And who doesn’t want more energy to play a pick-up game of basketball with your friends, chase your dog around the park, or keep up with your kids (or grandkids) at the pool?

At CrossFit Donelson, we pride ourselves on being the gym that cares about your well-being. And because we care, we strictly adhere to the motto of “mechanics, consistency, and THEN intensity.” What this essentially means is that we want you to focus first on moving WELL. After you’ve ingrained good form into your muscle memory on a consistent basis, then we can discuss going a little faster or adding a bit more weight. We understand that giving your best effort will yield the best results, but HOW you move is just as important as WHAT you do. As I tell my athletes, “Focus on moving with intention, and the intensity will take care of itself."

Also, if you’re worried about not being able to do the workout that the coach has written for the day, that’s okay!! A term we use to describe workouts as they are written is “prescribed” or “Rx" (you’re probably wondering what pharmaceuticals have to do with CrossFit - ha!), but another term we use often is “scaling” which refers to MODIFYING those reps, weights, and movements to acclimate the workout to our own experience and ability level. This is important, as no two people are exactly the same, so everyone has different strengths and weaknesses. Just because you scaled the workout while someone else does it as “prescribed” doesn’t make them better than you - it simply means you adjusted the workout to fit you best. And as a coach, it’s my job to get to know your ability level so that each day I can help you decide what is the best way to modify the workout so that you get the best results. We don’t want you tired or hurting when you leave our gym - we want you healthy and happy!

Lastly, you’ve also probably heard ridiculous sayings, such as “I don’t need to rest” or “You can sleep when you’re dead.” What foolishness!! Challenging our bodies in the gym is one piece of the puzzle, but eating well and getting enough quality rest - both physically and mentally - is where the real magic happens. This is a topic that is vital enough to carry its own separate article (or multiple, if I’m being honest), so we’ll save that for another time. But suffice to say, we value balancing exercise with recovery to give you the best results and keep you healthy month after month, year after year.

In summary, I’ll tell you what I tell everyone who is apprehensive about trying this out: “CrossFit may not be for everyone, but it is for anyone.” What this means is that some people try it and don’t enjoy it - and that’s totally FINE - but I firmly believe that this type of training can be adapted to help make ANYONE fitter. I’m not going to lie and say it will be easy (valuable things rarely are), but if you come ready to learn and give your best effort, I will be here to help ease you into the uncharted territory of CrossFit. That’s a promise.

If you just want to sit down and chat about your fitness goals, you can schedule a FREE No-Sweat intro at

Spencer Smith

Owner & Head Coach

CrossFit Donelson

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