Most jobs in the Air Force involve many types of movements, sitting, lifting, climbing, pulling and moving equipment. While our physical fitness testing is in the back of our minds, we can’t depend on our daily movements to be enough to keep us fit and using running, push-ups and sit ups to prepare us can become monotonous. That’s why many Airman, including Senior Airman Alix Matuszak are taking up CrossFit to challenge themselves and increase their physical fitness.
“CrossFit is a great workout, basically its doing the exercises that mimic movement’s people do every day at work or at home, “said Matuszak. For example if someone was to move a box and hops underneath it, that’s the same as doing a clean, which is an Olympic lift.”
A fairly new exercise program created in 2000 by Greg Glassman, CrossFit is a strength and conditioning program with a goal to improve fitness and according to CrossFit Inc. does this by, “constantly varied functional movements executed at high intensity across broad modal and time domains.” The program is a combination of 3 components: weight lifting; Olympic lifts, power lifting and gymnastic type movements, body weight exercises; pull-ups, push-ups and dips, and cardiovascular; rowing, jump roping and running. These movements are put together, mixed up and then done at a high intensity.
“Before CrossFit I ran a lot but that was becoming very routine, said Matuszak, “So when my husband told me about it I watched some videos online to learn more and then found a gym to visit to give it a try.”
Walking into a CrossFit gym for the first time was intimidating for her, as she believes it is for most women who are unfamiliar with free weights, dumbbells, or using other equipment not traditionally used by women.
“The way the programs are set up helps alleviate intimidation, she said, if you are new, there are beginner classes where everyone is working out at the same level and the exercises are broken down and explained so you feel more confident having body awareness and knowing how to execute a move and how it’s benefiting your body.”
As a matter of fact, she got so comfortable at the gym, that after six months of taking classes she received her certification to be a coach.
“I love coaching, it’s rewarding to see CrossFit open new opportunities for people because of the increased strength, she said, “as a result a client recently climbed over 500 steps during a trip to Peru, that she would not have been able to complete before joining CrossFit.”
Matuszak has also benefited from the program by having increased energy and strength, she is now able to lift two times her body weight in a deadlift and execute complicated gymnastic movements.
“It’s empowering as a smaller women to know I can do these movements and lift such heavy weights,” she said.
CrossFit also has coaches who teach nutrition and the program heavily promotes the Paleo diet also known as the caveman diet, in which you eat the way a caveman would have. That is, if we could hunt or find the food, it is allowed, if a caveman couldn’t eat it, neither can you. For example, meats, fish, nuts, leafy greens, regional veggies and seeds are allowed but pasta, cereal, candy, sodas or anything processed is not.
“Nutrition is an important component of physical fitness and one’s health and can often be the piece that hold people back, said Matuszak, “CrossFit can help people at any level by teaching them about nutrition, just get them moving again or take their fitness to the next step, so I recommend to just try it.”