As anyone who’s read earlier posts on this blog already knows, I’m a very lucky fat girl. I’ve got a great husband who is also my CrossFit coach, and we already had a garage gym ready to go. So my investment in CrossFit equipment was minimal.
If you want to start with CrossFit, the best option is to go to a CrossFit affiliate. I preach what I’m not practicing, though; I find the idea of going to a gym with all those fitties way too intimidating. I imagine that those guys think like Glee’s Sue Sylvester:
So if you live in fear of the Sue Sylvesters of the world, you can see if you can find a CrossFit coach who is willing to come to you and bring at least some of the necessary equipment; s/he shouldn’t have any problem lifting the necessary items — it’d just be a matter of whether s/he has a car roomy enough to carry it all. But I strongly urge you, especially if you are overweight and/or out-of-shape, get a certified coach.
And, as a trained paranoid because I’ve gotten to see the worst of humanity through my former life as a litigator, get someone you trust to come along as an observer if you are having someone you do not know coming to your home. I don’t think they do background checks on CrossFit coaches, and you need to feel safe and be safe in all respects. It’s also a safety net for the coach. I still remember being told as a 21-year-old teacher-in-training to always keep the door open when having a one-on-one discussion with a kid to limit the possibilities of false accusations. (Yes, it’s a sucky world view, and the chances of something bad happening are fairly slim, but do you really want to be the one in however many thousand that loses the bet?)
If the coach can’t bring you the items you need, you can slowly start building your own garage gym. The CrossFit Journal has lots of articles on building a home gym and Again Faster will help you out as well. If you’re doing it in the garage, the mats that are used for horse stables are cheap flooring, as well as flexible and durable. You can get them at feed supply stores. And get a mat for situps and pushups.
No matter where you get the weights et al for exercising, you’re still going to have to find something to wear. I look like crap when I exercise because finding clothes for plus size women to exercise in is depressing. I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on clothes I only was going to sweat in (and, to be perfectly honest, I’m laboring under the delusion that I will lose enough weight not to need them all that long), and once you’re wearing something snug enough for your coach to be able to see the mechanics of what you’re doing, you aren’t going to be able to hide anything anyway.
Shoes are the easiest to find; feet may be a little wider with obesity, but you generally can find shoes that will fit you in regular places. Because I wanted my husband/coach to see I really wasn’t on my toes, I found regular running shoes problematic for doing squats, one of the foundational exercises for CrossFit. So I went with Vibrams; I love mine, the Vibram KSO (although I don’t know where they expect this to be camoflauge; maybe the world where Avatar was set?). They’re a little weird at first because your toes will want to stay in their tight little group; separating them is a pain at first. But I’ve never really liked shoes anyway, and Vibrams are the next best thing to barefoot. There are other brands available, but I can only vouch for the Vibrams.
As for bras, most of us “full-figured” gals are wearing underwires anyway, so your regular bra will probably give you more support than any athletic bra would, if you can even find one (I’ve been looking for a while now, and am not comfortable with the thought of one that comes in generic 1X, 2X, 3X, etc like at Old Navy’s online store for plus size women and I don’t want to spend $74.95 at Junonia for one that fits right like my half-the-price regular bra. The main reason I want one is to get a racing back; my bra straps refuse to stay up because I have no discernible shoulders. My husband promises I’ll have some one day after I’ve been at CrossFit long enough).
You’ll want shorts because you’ll overheat otherwise, and you want something Spandex because otherwise you’ll get the infamous between-the-legs shorts ride up and start chafing. You’ll be fighting enough boogie men; don’t add skin-burned thighs to the list. I wear men’s XXXL spandex shorts my husband bought for me at a local sporting goods chain, Academy; why men in our shape don’t seem to have a problem wearing them is a mystery, but God bless them, or I’d have never found anything I could stretch into submission. Again, you can get spandex or wicking shorts for plus-size women, but they’re pricey; leggings, capris and yoga pants are easier to come by. I’m guessing it’s because there aren’t enough of us fatties exercising for them to get a deal for massive orders.
Big ol’ t-shirts are de rigueur for me, but to analyze and fix my form problem on a push-up, my husband made me take off my shirt so he could figure out what I was doing, not something I’d do for any other coach. So I’m shopping around a little now and will get back to you on whether what I find works. Gary’s talking about getting me some UnderArmor, but the women’s sizes end before getting to my size.
If you’ve found a place with plus size workout wear that you like, please, for the love of God, let me know.