This morning I attended a CrossFit Fundamentals class. Since it had been a few years since I attended a proper CrossFit class, I thought it would be helpful for me to review the basics of all the lifts. The last thing I wanted to do was start a new strength training program with bad habits I may have picked up along the way.

The session was one hour long. One other guy showed up for the Fundamentals class as well.

I had arrived a bit early so I got a chance to warm-up a little – a few dynamic stretches and then 5 minutes on the rower. I had not been on a rower for at least 2 years! I was happy that my wrists held up (I had been refraining from using the row machines because of my wrist injuries over the past 2 years).

Emma, the coach who taught the two previous classes I attended, was teaching the Fundamentals class. It worked out well for me because she had already gotten a chance to see me do a few lifts in class – so she could give me extra tips based on what she had already seen.

We covered several lifts – back squat, front squat, strict press, push press, push jerk, deadlift, and cleans. Of all the lifts, I knew that cleans would be my weakest point. I have been haunted by cleans since I last did CrossFit back in Kuwait — I remember my last attempt at cleans so clearly. I had struggled. I knew it had nothing to do with the amount of weight I was lifting — it was all about a mental block I had created for myself. I don’t know why I did it, but I do know that the apprehension stayed with me all these years.

Overall, my lifts were fine. I did struggle the most with the cleans. I’m trying really hard not to psych myself out. I just need to go with the flow – not overthink it; not stress about it. Just lift.

The coordination with the push jerk was also a bit tricky. Again, most of the problem comes when I hesitate and overthink the move. The times when I just went for it, the move was perfect. It’s something I need to keep in mind (but not obsess over).

The thing I found most interesting about the class was the little tweaks in my movement that Emma showed me that made such a big difference. Simple things such as having a steady and taut back posture before even beginning my lift made a big difference. Another tip involved turning out my thighs just a fraction before doing my squats. This ensured that I engaged my glutes and kept a firm and steady posture throughout the lift.

I find all these small modifications really fascinating. It connects to what I learn in jiu-jitsu really well. In jiu-jitsu, simply moving your body one inch one way or the other can have a major impact on the move you’re trying to execute. It reminds me that the details are really important. It’s easy to get caught up in rushing through moves. The real work, at least for me, is about slowing down and paying attention to the fundamentals of the move. Now that I’ve dusted off the cobwebs on these lifts — I’m ready to get to work!