Crossfit terrifies me. Every time I go into the building to start a work out, my adrenaline rushes and I have to extricate myself from my vehicle and force myself to go in. It is not easy to enter a class full of people who are athletic when you are 100 pounds overweight. It is embarrassing to have the instructor shout out a modified plan for you during class, (or worse, write it on the white board) because there is no earthly way you could even attempt what everyone else is doing. It’s frustrating when serious gym members are disappointed with their scores after a workout, and yet they did more than double what you have done.
Crossfit is not for the faint of heart.
Nevertheless, I go back. I go back repeatedly, and I do not intend to stop in the near future. Let me tell you what gets me out of my car when I can find every excuse under the moon to stay in it.
I get out of my car because of Royal. Royal is a crossfitter who gives pats on the back and big grins but will still scream at you that you CAN do that pull up if you really want to. You can’t quit with Royal there, because… damn it he SAID you couldn’t.
I get out of my car because of Rob. Rob is a man of few words, but he doesn’t hesitate to come and stand next to you and do burpees with you, to keep you going. You can’t quit while he’s doing them. How can you? He already did his own assignment and now he’s pushing you through your own. Quitting now would just be rude.
I get out of my car because of Sarah. Sarah is a woman who squeezes a workout in after an 8-hour workday but before going back to work to teach an evening class. Her commitment makes you feel about an inch tall when you say you can’t go because…well, you are just too tired.
I get out of my car because of Kelly and Jake and everyone else who is there encouraging me to get my butt in there, and keep pushing towards my goal.
Crossfit has a different dynamic than any gym or recreational activity I have ever tried. I lost 40 pounds in 4 months largely due to the Crossfit experience, but it isn’t just about weight loss. It’s about fitness, it’s about health and in a weird way, it’s about community.
I tried to quit Crossfit. I joined up with a personal trainer who specializes in women like me, (over 40 with over 40 pounds to lose.) I was excited because I wanted to be around other women like myself. I didn’t want to panic in the parking lot before every class, as I did at Crossfit. I was looking forward to not being the only person around who had a body fat percentage over 2%. I wanted to fit in, and in many ways, I did.
However, I discovered something amazing. After a few weeks, the boot camp had many of the same negatives that I’ve found at Crossfit. The women complained after every AMRAP (where you do as many rounds as possible in a set amount of time), that they could have done more, but they also complained during the workouts, a lot. I didn’t want to get out of my car and go in because I dreaded the workout, there was something weird about the warm ups that hurt my knees.
Yet, the boot camp lacked the positives of Crossfit. No one was going to cheer me on to finish my workout. When I tried cheering on others, they looked at me as if I were crazy. No one was going to jump in and do burpees with me, or stand with me and shout encouragement. That team building was lacking and maybe if I had stayed longer (I only stayed one month) I would have witnessed it, but at my local Crossfit box, I witness it every single night.
I’m sure that there are boot camps out there that are not like this, this was just my very limited experience.
I found that I wasn’t pushed to improve, and when I complained about pain – I got the feeling that the trainer suspected I was lying or exaggerating. He specializes in the obese, and I guess we maybe have a tendency to do that. Unfortunately, I wasn’t and if he had taken the time to know me, to challenge me he would recognize that. My Crossfit trainers can testify that I am the last to complain. Many times they have given me a way out of a challenge, a way to finish earlier or easier and I always push through and finish because… I don’t WANT the shortcut. The short cut helped me put on an extra 100 pounds; the short cut is not what I need.
Don’t get me wrong, the boot camp trainer was an awesome person. His workout program is one that I would recommend to many people. It just wasn’t the right place for me to stay.
I walked a half marathon a few years ago and I noticed something interesting while doing it. I was slow. I was one of the last of the walkers. Dozens of people passed me towards the end of the race, some were walkers in the half-marathon like me and they bristled past me without comment, some even seemed to be angry that I was on the path with them. However, the first through 20th place finishers of the full marathon all passed me while I dragged my sorry body through those last miles. Every single one of those runners took the breath and the time and the energy to say to me, “ Keep going.” Or “ Great job.” Or some other word of encouragement. Here I was, coming in dead last, 100 pounds overweight, almost crawling down the highway and they said I was doing great, when truly – they were the athletes doing the amazing thing here.
This is how I view my journey towards fitness. Just like that marathon and just like in the marathon, I get a great push from the elite athletes who take the time to tell me, “ Good job.”
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