Early July, I was scared to death. I was beyond nervous, so much so, that an entire flock of butterflies were fluttering around in my tummy. My bowels rumbled and gurgled with anticipation and a near pre-diarrhea anxiety. I was about to embark on a new adventure and for a gal that is not easily ruffled, I was quoting Scar from "The Lion King” (minus the sarcasm) with, “I quiver with fear!”
I walked into the old plastic factory that had recently been converted to the latest trend of fitness enthusiasts’ idea of a playground. My mind had stereotypes running rampant and I instantly categorized each of the people then present in the gym. The rubber floor had chalk marks on it reminiscent of grade school scribbling, but in an alien-like gibberish. The room, despite being very large, had very little equipment in it and I found myself questioning what type of gym this could be. I stared at the ropes hanging from the ceiling and pondered what I had gotten myself into.
Uncomfortably so, I started foam rolling because that’s what everyone else was doing. Slowly, people starting saying “hi” and making me feel slightly less out of place. Let me remind you that every single person in the space in these early days was extremely fit and had definition of muscles on their muscles. I promised myself to keep an open mind, a very wide-open mind and to let myself experience the opportunity of something new. I also started tormenting myself, telling myself I did not belong here nor would I be able to keep up with these beautiful people.
Welcome to CrossFit.
Within a couple of workouts, I realized that the people are insanely nice, very welcoming and the team atmosphere that CrossFit encourages is awesome. Sure, you are working out with some incredibly strong folks and some amazingly fit athletes, but you are truly only competing against yourself. You are pushing yourself to your limits and you have an instant cheering squad alongside of you in your fellow CrossFit groupies. You are setting new personal records for YOURSELF!
People accuse CrossFit of being a cult. I say, why yes, it is a cult. A cult of people with similar fitness goals you share; an automatic support team to encourage you to meet those goals and obstacles, head on through both thick and thin.
I am ALL in!
I have been working out for a few years now, trying a vast multitude of training regimens and different gym environments to keep me interested and to namely keep me feeling strong and HEALTHY. The only sense of control I have over my health after a tough cancer battle is by engaging in a variety of workouts to push my body to the opposite limit. I have known the ultimate weakness in health and my mission is to now know the ultimate strength in my OWN health.
With a brain that still thinks it is a sixteen year old track star and a now nearly 40 year old body, the ability to mesh the two smoothly has become quite the challenge and often results in frustration. Learning how to run at my “happy” pace is akin to me wanting to conquer a roller coaster but instead sitting idly at a snail's pace on the red line from Leominster into Harvard Square.
In previous posts of mine, you have met “Spike”, my gremlin who gets into my head and you have learned of my insanely high expectations of myself. Many of you have offered sage advice, such as “You are WAY too hard on yourself!” or “You set your goals to unattainable limits!” or “You are doing it, cut yourself some slack!” Sorry, Charlie – these words do nothing to console me and I have come to terms that I am just different. (Okay, okay, I am insane!) I am a goal setter and I am overly ambitious, but I also have that ability to get what I want. Many of us have that ability but we fail to engage it, let alone use it on a regular basis in life.
Welcome to CrossFit.
In two months’ time, I have found a “home” when it comes to MY happy place; a location where I come out feeling great. Yes, you read that right. I have had my ass handed to me at the discreet Jytek Park location. I have sweated enough in one session to grossly wet the floor around me (yes, I clean it up for the next person behind me). I have made new friends and I have found quite a few former gym-rat friends who have shifted here to reconnect with. I have nearly puked. I have built a lot of muscle. I have improved my form. I have broken through those damn tight hip flexors and gotten my squat down, down, down. I am down fifteen pounds.
(That's NOT me, but damn, that WILL be me!)
The difference: every....single......workout I have come out of, I have a grin on my face. I thank my trainer for the workout that I just did! My body is buzzing and alive. I feel STRONG. I have learned an entirely new lingo and I still giggle like a thirteen year old boy every time the trainer says key words like: “snatch” “clean and jerk” “thrusters”. I have wet myself. (Yes, you read that right and apparently, it’s not because I have had kids!) I am building definition in my own muscles. Those fears of not fitting in or being able to do the workout have been replaced with fears of starting to look like a man. (Actually, when I see the super fit women at my CrossFit, I envy them and count down the workouts until I can mold my body into a similar physique - see picture above).
Actually, I am still afraid.....of rope climbs, of pull ups, of muscle ups, and of sharting myself.....but I have a newfound confidence that this body, my body, may be able to accomplish a lot more than I ever thought possible - cancer or no cancer, upcoming 40 years of age or not and limitations are still clearly meant to be surpassed.Inasmuch as CrossFit is not for everyone, I have realized it IS for me. I cannot afford the monthly payments, but yet, I have promised myself to do so for as long as I can financially. There is always a way and cuts can be made in other places. My health is critical. My workouts are so very important to my well-being both physically AND mentally. For the first time in a very, very long time, I feel strong, I feel powerful, I feel healthy and that is my happy place. I am now able to cross-train including my running, hiking, and CrossFit. I know any future bad runs I have will be coddled by a dose of slamming some weights around and running around the industrial park.
Thank you CrossFit 978.
Now tell me: Where is your happy place in the world of exercise? Are you open to trying new forms of exercise? What scares you about some forms of exercise? Do you exercise for health, for vanity, for peace of mind? Are you willing to surpass YOUR limitations?