WOD Kills

Diaries and motivations of a CrossFit beginner

How CrossFit changed my life in 150 days

Life changing events are rare. Finding your soul mate, the birth of your child, the loss of a loved one. We believe that some thing just “happens”, but sometimes is very easy to make them happen.

When I started CrossFit I was really skeptical. I never found the right motivations to play a sport and I neither felt the need of doing so. But during a warm and sunny afternoon everything changed. CrossFit got me and is not planning to let me go. The show is just at the beginning: and here is how my life really changed in just 150 days.

I do things i never thought i could do.


Really now. Snatches? Handstand? “I’ll never do such things”. “Are just not for me”, a little voice inside my head was saying. But once again I was under evaluating the impact CrossFit was going to have on my life.

The baggage of knowledge, experiences and motivations that my trainers gave me in just five months is huge. I played many sports in my life, but it never happened to me to learn so many things – and improve so much in doing them – like in the last five months.

CrossFit ass-kicked me and brought me outside my comfort zone – sometimes really far – and I understood that just in this way we learn, improve, and grow.

Are you scared that you’re not the kind of person that can lift a barbell? Do you think you’re to heavy to lift yourself up on the rings? You’re sure you can’t run a half marathon? Just step in a CrossFit box and give your trainers time enough to prove you wrong.

I learned to find motivations.


It doesn’t take long to understand that CrossFit is more than just physical strength and power. Motivations and the ability of remaining focused on goals are an essential part of this great sport.

My personal experience said that once I started finding motivations for my workouts – and trust me when I say that I really needed them more than once – it became even easier to find motivations for my everyday tasks. Reading a boring business report? Going to the Post office? Fixing that shelf your wife is talking about since weeks? CrossFit really is a great training system for commitment and consistency.

I started eating well.

I never dieted in my life. I’m lucky and I’ve a metabolism that allowed me any kind of junk-food and carbo-horror-show without punishing me with a levitating belly or fluffy love-handles.

But I wasn’t expecting to find a direct correlation between the quality and the amount of food eaten and the quality of my workouts. Our bodies are great machines and they need high-quality fuel, in the right amount and at the right time to deliver the best. Nevertheless, starting eating only quality foods and cutting out the rest I started having a general healthy feeling all day long. Plus, my last blood exams were great!

I made friends and i learned to accept their help.


You probably heard a lot about CrossFit Community. And yes, everything you hear is true.

I’m an Italian expatriate living in Switzerland and one of the hardest things I experienced after my relocation was making new friends in the town where I now live with my wife and my daughter. Tight working schedule and general routines left us no time and opportunities to build a new social life.

Everything changed after I joined my CrossFit box. There I found motivated athletes – students, workers, housewives and businessmen of all ages – with whom I share goals, passions and values. I bonded with most of them and some of these people are becoming real and solid friends.

Furthermore, I learned to accept help in time of need – we all like that little push when we are fighting against our limits – and to appreciate the Spirit of Community. I’m generally a not sociable person, but the real deal of CrossFit is sharing our experiences with others who genuinely believe in what we believe. It might sound superficial. But when we are sweating at the box we’re not just training: we’re bonding with other human beings who are fighting for our same goals. Something that nowadays we rarely have the opportunity to do, and will make us better and more complete persons.

This article was originally published by BoxRox – We Are Europe.
You can read my articles on BoxRox following this link.


I joined a 100 Burpees Challenge. What about you?

100 Burpees Challenge (100burpees.rolandoalberti.ch)

100 Burpees Challenge (100burpees.rolandoalberti.ch)

Guess what? Burpees don’t like you either. Many times we read this sentence in Internet memes and, probably, is just the truth. Anyway, it happened last Monday, that we had to face one of those MetCon WODs packed of Burpees. And it literally knocked most of us down. And so my friend Rolando, one of the box managers, had one of his brilliant ideas: lets start a 100 Burpees Challenge!

We started the first of October with 1 Burpee, and we will add one everyday. This until the 100th day on which we will – hopefully – be able to do 100 unbroken Burpees, with 5050 Burpees done in 100 days.

Rolando is covering the challenge on its own blog (100burpees.rolandoalberti.ch), posting some useful tips everyday.

The myth of Milone

Milone is the most famous fighter and an Olympic champion of the ancient Greece, lived in the second half of the VI century, before Christ. A legend says that he trained since his childhood lifting a calf. He did it everyday, and his strength grew together with the calf that was getting heavier, growing day by day. Milone won six ancient Olympic games.

Milone di Crotone, Pierre Puget (Paris, Le Louvre)

Milone di Crotone, Pierre Puget (Paris, Le Louvre)

And now: why don’t you join our challenge?

Probably, you don’t like Burpees. Why don’t you try to start fighting the daemon joining us in our 100 Burpees Challenge? Burpees can be done everywhere: at the box, at home or at office (for the joy of your colleagues) and are a great MetCon exercise which will help you getting better results during the WODs.
You can start today (6th of October) with 6 Burpees and stay with us for the next 94 days.

What I learned from CrossFit (until now)

Me and my friends after a really intense WOD

Me and my friends after a really intense WOD (crossfitlugano.com)

When I joined the CrossFit community, I never thought I could have learned something. I soon realized I was going to workout hard and I was going to give my best, but it took me a while to understand that the experience I’m living is actually more than just fitness. We’re not talking about skills and techniques. What I learned, and I’m learning day by day, WOD by WOD, is something that I think is making me a better, and more complete, person.

CrossFit is a lesson of humility

CrossFit boxes usually have a really heterogeneous customers base. Students, lawyers, traders, workers, sport professionals and more. What I learned, is that doesn’t matter who you are and what you do outside the box: in there you are just like all the other folks. You will give your best, you will sweat and you will suffer. And perhaps, you will find your name at the bottom of the times whiteboard. This way, I’m learning to never give up and to keep challenging myself. Leaving my ego at the door.

I can learn something from everybody

When I first moved my steps in the CrossFit world, there very little I knew about. Of course, my trainers are the first source of knowledge and information. But I’m trying to keep looking at all the people around me. In CrossFit no one is the best in class. And, with humility, I’m sure I can learn something from everybody in there.

I started eating well

I spend about 12 hours a day out of home, in car and at my office. And I’m sure most of you are in my same conditions. Eating well, eating healthy, is difficult. And, to be honest, was never my concern. But joining CrossFit is not just about sport and getting active. It’s more like lifestyles that will make you feel better and more conscious about your body. Soon I started being pickier on my lunches and dinners, trying to choose the best nutrients I could get. Such a change is quite difficult, and requires determination and patience. Most of the time, while eating at self-services or restaurants, is almost impossible to find what your body really need. Nevertheless, I quickly found out that my performances during the workouts and my general feelings during the day were much better while I managed to eat the right amount (and from the right sources) of carbs, proteins and fats.

Less is more!

All my life I looked for fancy fitness clubs with modern machines and cutting edge interior design. That stuff cost me a lot and, guess what? It never worked. We think that being member of a nice gym will give us better chances to go often, but at the end, this rarely works. The ugly truth is that most of us don’t need all that stuff. Less is more: CrossFit boxes are essentials and offers just what you need. You will learn to workout with floor exercises, jump boxes, PVC bars, ropes and few other (heavy) objects. Nevertheless, the rugged look of the box will give you other motivations to work you ass off. No women with fancy gym pants and make up, no guys with expensive watches. Everybody will be sweating and moaning, and you will not be embarrassed to do the same.

5 Great (explained) motivationals to make your day a better day

Welcome to the best day of your life

Welcome to the best day of your life (julianbialowas.com)

Welcome to the best day of your life.

How many of us, waking up this morning, had this sentence in mind? Probably very few (and lucky) ones. Success and happiness are mostly based on self-consciousness and attitude. Think about today: we all have deadlines and stressful stuff to do. Convince yourself that those things are just part of your life, and doing them with enthusiasm will make your life a better place to live in. We all wait for a big change. Just focus on your passions, and start being the change you wish.

Do small things with great love.

Do small things with great love. (julianbialowas.com)

Do small things with great love. (Mother Teresa)

Most of our everyday actions are based on simple, repetitive things. Which are often the ones the bores us more. We may forget that there are two ways to do them: a good one and a bad one. Try to do your best even for the most simple gestures of your day. Pay attention to details. Only in this way you will be ready to face bigger challenges. 

No great achievement is possible without persistence.

No great achievement is possible without persistence. (julianbialowas.com)

No great achievement is possible without persistence. (Bertrand Russell)

When you have a dream, you have to pursue it. And you shall never give up. We tend to underestimate ourselves and to move back while in a tight spot. Modesty and temperance are precious values we have to safeguard, but this is not an excuse to not give out our best. Life is made of small and big obstacles: each one of them will be defeated with self-consciousness and perseverance.

Rethink everything.

Rethink everything. (julianbialowas.com)

Rethink everything.

Have you ever had the feeling that we all think in the same way? We are scared of being wrong and to be lonely. So we tend to conform our thoughts. Day by day, lets try to rethink everything, small and big things. Life is made of perceptions we can control. Why don’t we try to change the angle with which we see the stuff around us?

If you are not everyday conquering some fear, you have not learned the secret of life.

If you are not everyday conquering some fear, you have not learned the secret of life. (julianbialowas.com)

If you are not everyday conquering some fear, you have not learned the secret of life. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

We all have fears. Is just a human thing. Sometimes we feel trapped in our lives, like there is no way to really do what we would like to do. But we’re wrong. Some of our dreams will remain dreams (but we should never stop going after them). But some others are there: we just have to get up and catch them, even if something is stopping us. Day by day, we all have to try to defeat our small and big fears. To make our life happier.

How I started to run (even if I don’t like to)

I never liked to run. One of the things that connect my childhood to my recent past is the total aversion I had for running. The few times I tried, I couldn’t stand the sense of apparently useless fatigue, the breath becoming shorter and shorter and the t-shirt getting sweated without giving me back a tangible reward. Since I’ve always been skinny, burning fats was never my concern. I ended up asking myself: “Why to do this?”. I could never give myself a convincing answer.

Suddenly and unexpectedly, in a sunny Saturday morning, I found myself on an athletic track together with some of my mates from CrossFit Lugano. We were there for a 5Km training and benchmark test.

Since I joined CrossFit, after each one of the workouts I did, I felt the need of improving my cardio resistance. I never realised how out of shape I was and how much underperforming my body was until I kept finding out that my times were much higher than the ones of my On-Ramp mates. I don’t like to compete in sport and I don’t see CrossFit as a competition. What I had in front of my eyes was a simple benchmark. And I wanted to get better.

I soon learned that a very efficient way to improve the performance of our cardio-circulatory system is a simple run, even if once a week. Having a better performing heart does not mean only getting better in sport, but also getting better in life. Our daily routine – intended as job, alimentation, deadlines, and relations – often stresses us. I eventually found – without any prior expectation – that running helps me a lot in fighting my usual high level of stress. While running I can free my mind and finally start thinking about myself. And so I think that my Saturday morning run will become a strong tradition.

Me and some of my mates from CrossFit Lugano running our 5Km

Me (in grey t-shirt) and some of my mates from CrossFit Lugano running our 5Km

Give yourself motivating but realistic goals

Keep in mind your long-term goal: getting better in life and improving your well-being. That said, I found short term motivations in setting a realistic distance goal for my daily run. If you just get out of the place and start running, you will probably end up stopping at first signs of fatigue. And if you’re not trained, that will happen quite soon. My realistic goal was (and still is) running without stopping for 5Km (3.1 miles). Set your distance and do your best to reach the target.

Find a place you like, better if without cars

I never liked the idea of running on the streets. The traffic lights breaks your pace, you breathe bad stuff and traffic might be dangerous. We have the luck to have in our city a public athletic track where we can go to run free of charge. Is never crowded and I find that place motivating. A nice choice may be a public park or, if you’re lucky enough, some pedestrian area by lakes, rivers or sea.

Don’t run alone

If your motivations are low, go run with a friend. It will be harder to be caught by last-minute laziness and you’ll find together with your pal motivations to reach your goal. Plus, you might have time to talk and relax: precious things nowadays.

Wear running shoes

I learned pretty soon that is important to use proper shoes while running. If you are not well trained and you run with non-amortised soles your knees, your ankle and your hips may hurt. The Internet is packed with reviews about shoes and will not be hard to find a pair you like. My personal beginner’s suggestion is to go for lightness and avoid bulky shoes.

Track your performances and results

Keeping track of your performances is a huge source of motivations. Before considering buying expensive GPS watches for tri-athletes, download a simple running app on your smartphone. It will be satisfying seeing your paths and your times, especially when you will start comparing them and you will have big improvements in front of your eyes.

It does not matter how slowly you go, so long as you do not stop

It does not matter how slowly you go, so long as you do not stop (julianbialowas.com)

My 8 reasons to join CrossFit if you think you are not made for it.

Because you think you can’t do it (and you’re wrong)

If you’re wondering around the Internet trying to understand what CrossFit is, probably you already saw a lot of big guys and fit girls. CrossFit Boxes are usually packed with incredibly prepared athletes, but that does not mean you can’t be part of the game.  The CrossFit training system is scalable and easily accessible for every kind of person. Even for you. You will be surprised by the things you will do and the improvements you will achieve.

Because you will learn to not give up

How many times, following your daily program at your gym, you ended up cutting reps or exercises because you were feeling a bit tired or bored? Doing your CrossFit workouts you will be motivated by your trainers, your mates and your desire to achieve results, to finish up the full program once you started it. You will improve your determination and constancy: two basic skills in the Box and in your everyday life.

Because you need motivations to move your ass

Nowadays people tend to get lazy. The sedentary life deriving from office jobs and daily routines gives us a lot of excuses to not take care of ourselves, cutting down our motivations. The CrossFit community – once again: your trainer, your mates, and you – will be a very efficient driver that will push you to take an hour for your own well being. 

Because you don’t have enough time

Each one of our days is packed by deadlines and stressful tasks. And the daily routine often doesn’t allow us enough time for our social life and physical activity. “Ain’t nobody got time for that”, a popular Internet meme says. But without making big compromises you will find time for CrossFit. You can be sure everything will be done in an hour or less. And after that, you will be tired and satisfied as never before. Cutting down those boring (and time expensive) 30 minutes of warm-up on the treadmill.

Because you will feel healthier

You will feel healthier and fit. And this will happen very soon. Your body will be surprised by all the new things you will be doing, and you will end up with a strange, addicting sense of well being. This will motivate you to carry on a healthier lifestyle, taking care of your alimentation and your sleep quality. Simple actions like climbing stairs, or carrying shopping bags will become surprisingly easier.

Because you will make new friends

One of the distinctive signs of CrossFit is its community. People going to the same Box tend to become friends. During the daily workouts, athletes are driven to bond, helping and motivating each other out. You will socialize with your mates and, perhaps, you will build up new friendships.

Because you will feel more confident with your body

You will be trained to do things and movements that you thought were reserved to a small number of people. And you will be surprised by how powerful your body is and how more powerful it can become. This will turn up in a renewed confidence in your body and your physical possibilities.

Because you will never get bored

A daily/weekly workout program of a regular gym bores us all. And in a short time, we tend to loose our motivations. CrossFit WOD changes every day, and you will rarely end up doing the same thing two times. Plus, the intensity of the training will keep you excited about what you are doing.

May you always do what you are afraid to do

May you always do what you are afraid to do (julianbialowas.com)

Feelings of a beginner

And so it seems that I arrived at the end of my On-Ramp training.

When I decided to join the CrossFit community, pushed by a friend, I didn’t know what I was going to face exactly. Surely I knew that my physical condition wasn’t great, and I had to do something about.

As I often say talking with my new friends at the Box, I’m usually the best customer for regular fitness centres. I pay a full year subscription, driven by an irrational enthusiasm, and I never go. That happened more than once in my life: I could never stand staying closed in a gym, lifting heavy stuff and running like a hamster in its wheel.

I was scared this time I was going to have the same feelings. Especially because my expectations about the CrossFit training philosophy and its community where not great. Or better: I was sure I couldn’t fit in there with ultra-fit people lifting barbells, hanging on bars, running, rowing and shit. I’m a tall and skinny guy, 185cm tall (6’1” fts) for 69Kg (149.6 lbs) and I never liked any kind of strength training. All the time I felt embarrassed in gyms, next to huge guys growling and panting while fighting with bench presses or huge dumbbells. And I think, this may be a common feeling for people like me. For these reasons, before applying for my On-Ramp training, I decided to attend a Free Trial offered by my local Box, trying to understand what was really happening during a CrossFit WOD. And that warm Saturday, everything changed.

Every accomplishment begins with the decision to try

Every accomplishment begins with the decision to try.

What I will remember for a long time is the deep sense of fatigue after the 15-20 minutes of the trial workout. I realised that I never had such intensity of physical activity before. While resting on the floor, trying to slow down my heart, getting my breath back, and control a strange nausea, the only thing in my mind thinking was: “I’m not made for this stuff”.

Once back home, after a refreshing shower, something started to change in my mind. And that little voice saying: “Hey, be reasonable, you’re not made for working out…” shut up. And suddenly I was attracted by that intensity, that sense of fatigue, those sore muscles. I started considering the chance to apply for the On-Ramp training.

I wasn’t convinced until the Monday after. That morning I woke up early as usual. Checking my emails while having breakfast, something caught my attention. An email from Rolando, the Box manager, saying that there was a free place for the On-Ramp training starting that same day. In that moment a bell rang. I took my phone and I made the call: my adventure started that evening.

A lot has been written in blogs and fitness related websites about CrossFit and the On-Ramp program. What really impressed me is the level of attention and preparation of the trainers I found. I immediately felt comfortable with the situation as I never felt in any of the gyms I went (or at least tried to go). I started learning movements and skills that I thought I could never perform and get. And, for the first time, I started being confident about my potentialities.

I read a lot about the “CrossFit Community” and I thought was just a bunch of nice motivational words, part of a clever marketing operation. Well, I had to change my mind. What really helped me was being with other people, each one of them giving its best to learn something that was new for all of us, with our ego out of the Box. That sense of embarrassment I had in other gyms totally disappeared: I was for the first time happy to be working out with a group of people I barely knew.

And yes, I started seeing (or better: feeling) results. Of course each person starting a new physical activity does it for two main reasons: feeling better and looking better.

The “looking better” part is hard to achieve and requires a long, long (longer) time. The “feeling better” part is almost sudden and really satisfying. And yesterday during our last On-Ramp lesson, I had a clear confirmation of this. We repeated the same WOD we had during our first On-Ramp lesson.

400m run
Jumping Pull-up

400m run

And these, are my registered times:

19/08/2013: 14’11”
11/09/2013: 9’14”

The improvement, for all of us, was great. And at least for me, unexpected.

The bottom line: no matter how fit you are CrossFit will change your life. You will improve your weaknesses, and will teach you keep motivations high. Your pals and your trainers will help you to not give up. And this last thing is the one I feel the most important. Learning the feeling to have all the instruments to achieve ambitious results. During your workouts, and especially, in your life out there.

My special thanks:

My friend Gianandrea, for having pushed me in this adventure.

My wife Adriana, for the patience she paid for my late dinners.

My trainers Niccolò, Filippo and Rolando for the motivations they gave me, their professionalism and capacity to transmit skills and concepts.

My On-Ramp classmates, for the time spent together sweating and learning.

All the other CrossFit Lugano members I had the chance to talk with, for their advices and moral support.

CrossFit Lugano on-Ramp 001

CrossFit Lugano on-Ramp 001. I’m the guy with the yellow t-shirt. Picture courtesy of CrossFit Lugano