Hey Ardith –
It was great to have you in the Lab! Come back anytime!
One year ago today, I committed to CrossFit. Over the summer, I tried two different boxes, tried two different WODs, got miserably sick for a few weeks, and during my absence, I got an email from one of the coaches.
That particular coach happened to be the head coach of CrossFit HEL in Portland, OR. That little prod was enough for me to give CrossFit another try, and on September 19th, 2012, I went back, stuck it out through The Chief, and just kept showing up after that.
I will not say it was easy to come back. It wasn’t easy those first couple of WODs, taking the warm-up lap and falling severely behind each teammate every time. It wasn’t easy learning new motions, new language, and new philosophies. But what also wasn’t easy was looking in the mirror and seeing just how out-of-shape I had become; I felt more uncomfortable in my own skin than I ever had as an adult, and it was not okay.
I decided that what seemed the most difficult was going to be the most beneficial, and I could not afford to let my second-guessing keep me from making a positive change in my life.
There is a shirt floating around the CrossFit realm that starts:
Walk in terrified…”
And that’s exactly how I felt walking in last September. And often, I still feel anxious, perhaps a bit intimidated by skills I haven’t mastered (and likely won’t for awhile).
But I’ve been going back to the box with butterflies in my stomach for a year now.
There is something to be said about facing your challenges head-on. And there is something else to be said about having a team that supports you through your weaknesses and accomplishments.
And there is something even greater to be said about the coaches that don’t give up on you.
It had been several years since someone had taken a close look at my deficiencies and followed up with feedback to help me out. Whenever I tackled a new challenge, he was there to say, “Awesome.” When things were overwhelming, he talked me through them. He welcomed me to a team that further provided support and community, and that group of athletes anchored me into a positive, healthy, life-changing routine.*
For me, CrossFit hasn’t been about competition with others or achieving top-tier ability within the CrossFit world. It has been about continually improving myself holistically: physically, mentally, spiritually, and communally.
Physically, I’ve pushed myself, completing workouts that look impossible on the computer screen. Even though I am a notorious “WODSCALA“, I am still doing more than I thought possible for a chronically-injured, uncoordinated ex-dancer/cheerleader.
We talked a lot about mental fortitude at CFHEL. It would be impossible for me to get through even my scaled WODs without the proper mental attitude. Yes, I allow myself to be nervous–but I have allowed myself to be nervous before piano performances, dance recitals, cheer try-outs, and job interviews, and that is all perfectly fine.
What I do not allow myself to do is to be defeated before a workout begins. On particularly challenging days, I will take a few breathes and maybe even say, “See you on the other side,” and then quiet my mind. It is the same technique that I used in dance. When I am in performance mode, I am focused on putting my best self out there. I don’t care that I have a resistance band for ring dips; I don’t care that I’m 30lbs. lighter on the bar for a Hero WOD. Am I on the floor? Am I facing the challenge head-on? If the answer to those questions (and some others) is, “Yes,” I am doing it right.**
In terms of the spirit, I am learning to trust in the idea of being exactly where I need to be at any given time. Those of you who know me know that I believe in something bigger than myself, bigger than this world. I cannot define it, but the Universe and its energy–as much as I complain about it–present opportunities for me to take. I can choose to take them, and in this case, I was given the choice to either continue with my old routine of thinking, “Well, at least I walked 15 minutes today, but why can’t I fit in my pants?” or to take on a challenge.
Because I took on that challenge, I was rewarded with more than a few inches off my waist; I came into a community that has been more important than I could have ever imagined. Teammates at my gym turned into close friends. Close friends at other gyms turned into teammates, as we shared our progress (and our misery) across the state lines. And sure, maybe we all seem a bit cult-like and more than a bit crazy, but we have all found something in common that motivates us and brings us together.
Tonight, on September 19th, 2013, I walked into SEAtown CrossFit because I have said “yes” to the challenge of a new job in a new city, and even though I’m not allowed to run or jump for the next several days (long story), I found some skills on which to work. I attempted my first sets of strict handstand push-ups tonight. I worked on strict pull-ups. And while everyone worked on double-unders, I rowed and busted out several sets of back squats. While being restricted on what I can do wasn’t how I envisioned spending my CrossFit-versary, I am happy that I was able to get back out on the floor, set some new milestones, and meet some new people.***
One year in, and this journey is far from over.
*which is based on giving the middle finger to routine, in terms of workouts
** “It’s okay, as long as you’re not crying while you’re jerking…”
*** And the best part is, I am now part of multiple teams. CFHEL, you got me to where I am today, and we are on this journey together. Excuse me for being forward, but I love you all.