This personal essay has been in the works for about five months now and something I honestly had no idea I’d be writing. Alas, here I am and here you are reading it.
About five months ago I signed up for CrossFit. I know, why in the hell would I do such a thing? I guess I was just looking for something that I would find challenging—going to the gym just wasn’t cutting it. I didn’t feel motivated and to be frank, I was bored. I’m someone that really benefits from having someone around to give me a nudge every now and then. I’d been trying to get my health back on track for the last few months. I was tired of feeling like a stranger in my own body. A body that had changed after having a child, and it wasn’t just the additional weight. I was actually, wait for it…fine with the extra weight. My problem was that I just felt so out of sync. I was tired of being tired, and more importantly I wanted to get back to feeling like my active self, child and all.
Our son’s godparents are the biggest reason I decided to give CrossFit a go. They came by for a visit one Sunday. We hadn’t seen them in a couple of months. I remember this day so vividly because they looked great. Physically sure, but it was more than that. They were damn near glowing. I could feel the energy rolling off of them, it was that strong. I think they were both about seven months in or so by that time, but it was in that moment all the hard work they had been putting in, the changes they’d made to their eating habits, were on full display. That energy must have transferred to me because that same day my husband and I decided to sign up for a “no sweat” introduction. Our son’s godparents were really helpful with pointing us in the right direction and telling us what to expect. I’d been turned off by CrossFit in the past because of the horror stories I’d heard. If it hadn’t been for them, witnessing their journey, I would honestly still feel the same way.
As I think back on it, I weirdly feel like this was all meant to be at some point. The CrossFit Box we joined was one that I had frequently passed by. I’d scoffed at it all the time because, well, CrossFit. We met with the owner later that same week and were all signed up for our first session with a personal trainer. It was the first of a total of four visits in the “on ramp” program offered before taking a class open to all members. Our very first session was actually fun and took away a lot of the reservations both my husband and I had. Then came the baseline fitness WOD (workout of the day). It involved a 500 meter row, 40 air squats, 30 sit-ups, 20 push-ups, and 10 ring rows, all to be done within a 10 minute time cap. I didn’t finish within that time cap; in fact it took me 10:50 to finish. I felt like I was going to collapse. I remember thinking to myself, girl why in the hell did you think this was a good idea? However, to my surprise, I recall being as excited as I was sore afterwards, which was A LOT. I walked like a mummy for that entire first week. The next three sessions we learned most of the foundation moves of CrossFit, which included Olympic lifting and some gymnastic movements. Those 1-on-1 sessions were a huge confidence boost, especially since they allowed me to see that I could do this, I didn’t have to be in peak physical health to start CrossFit. The day of our last “on ramp” session, we were retested on our baseline fitness and I finished in under 10 minutes—finished in nine to be exact.
About two weeks later, I experienced my first CrossFit class and to my surprise, it was really enjoyable. Everyone was super welcoming. The class included folks of all levels of fitness and there were modifications to the WOD to accommodate all of those various fitness levels, including mine. I survived and if I wasn’t hooked by then, I was after that.
It’s been a little over five months since we joined. I just placed fourth in the novice division of my first CrossFit competition. The amount of fun I had that day would have made last place feel like first to be perfectly honest. Funny enough, it took place exactly five months from when we joined. I often tell people that one of the many things I’ve enjoyed about my CrossFit experience has been witnessing the work I’ve put in pay off. Feeling myself get stronger, my endurance increase, and the overall improvement of my mobility has been really surreal at times. I didn’t know what the hell a split jerk was, but now it’s one of my favorite weight lifting moves. Five months ago I couldn’t walk from the parking lot at work to the front door without feeling winded. I’ve come a long way since then and I’m excited about all things I’ve yet to do, like muscle-ups.
CrossFit has enhanced my life for the better, physically and mentally. My eating habits and relationship with food have changed dramatically. I quickly learned how vital it was to give my body what it needs to make it through the workouts. It wasn’t a fun lesson by the way. The sense of community I’ve experienced at my Box has been a game changer. As corny as this sounds, at my Box at least, these strangers have started to feel like family. Cheering each other on during intense workouts and getting to know one another outside of working out together has been a bonus to the experience.
I know CrossFit isn’t for everyone. I’m the very last person to tell someone to do something just because it’s working for me. I’ve been more than happy to answer any questions that people have when they learn that I CrossFit. I haven’t been shy about sharing my experiences through my Twitter account.
Are there times when I don’t want to go CrossFit? Of course, but I usually still go because I know I’ll feel better afterwards. The hour I spend there, four to five times a week, is MY hour. An hour filled with challenging myself, an hour of loving myself, and an hour dedicated to me and just me. Something that I appreciate more than ever as a working mom. Knowing I can now deadlift your run of the mill ‘comic mansplainer’ with ease, is an added bonus.
You can find Stephanie Humphrey hanging out as Misty Knight’s Twist Out on Twitter at @steph_i_will, and in your headphones on the The Lemonade podcast, which you can follow @LemonadeShow on Twitter.