Tuesday, October 04, 2011

One Year at CrossFit

By Jenn Casey

(This post was originally posted at my blog, Rational Jenn, on September 28, 2011.)

One year ago today, I went to my first CrossFit class at CrossFit Kennesaw. Even though I have a friend who has done CrossFit for years and led an introductory class at our first MiniCon, I had no real idea what I was in for. I figured it was some kind of boot camp deal with kettlebells and weights. I HAD NO IDEA!

I was pretty nervous pulling into the parking lot. But I was excited, too. I almost chickened out, and I knew that if I didn't just walk in there and get going, I'd never get going. I was ready to do some kind of working out--I was feeling rocking awesome after almost a year of going full-on for-realsies paleo. I was ready to do something, so as I sat in my car in the parking lot I told myself that THIS was my something. And if I hated it, I could find another something, but right then at that moment, this CrossFit class was my something.

And I told myself that not going in was an absolute guarantee that I wouldn't improve and get stronger, but going in was a step toward that goal. So I went in.

Thank goodness Kelly was there. She was the one who found this particular gym, and it is a wonderful place. I have since learned that not every CrossFit gym is alike, and I definitely got one of the good ones. Kelly gets all the credit for finding it and I am forever appreciative that she went with me to the fundamentals class! I might have really chickened out otherwise.

That first night was HARD. Running? WTH? I was totally not expecting running, and huffed and puffed my way around a measly 200 meters and thought I would DIE. Then, squats and other body weight stuff, and maybe some basic lifts. And then . . . THEN the workout started! I can't truly express the level of dismay and surprise I felt. Maybe "shock and awe" cover it.

But I'd committed to finishing the fundamentals classes, six in all, and after doing that, I signed up for more. I told myself I'd stick with CrossFit through the end of the year and then re-evaluate. It wasn't that I disliked it--there were really some aspects of it that I enjoyed right away, partly because it reminded me of doing gymnastics as a kid.

No, it wasn't that I disliked it at all--it's that it was HARD. Really hard. Really really really hard.

But I continued out the rest of the year going about twice a week, and getting into the rhythm of the classes, integrating going to CrossFit into my weekly routine.

And suddenly, it didn't get easier, but I got better at it. It was still HARD, but I could DO IT!!! Me!!! Not all the time, I always had to scale, but suddenly I found I was looking forward to the difficult workouts. I fell in love with the post-WOD buzz. I both dreaded and eagerly anticipated the next WOD.

By the time 2011 rolled around, I was hooked. And not only was I enjoying it (well, not in the moment, you see, but you know what I mean), I was seeing real improvement in my life. And in the gym. But mostly, my life.

Because by then I'd noticed the most important thing of all--that improvements in the gym are great and all, and it's always fun to reach a new PR. But those gym-specific improvements are beside the point. It's the real life improvements that keep me going back to CrossFit.

It's being able to squat properly to lift my kids or five gallon water bottles. It's not running out of breath on the walk to or from the playground. It's entertaining my kids with cartwheels and handstands. It's learning to pay attention to my body and learning to understand the difference between soreness and "pushed it a bit too hard" pain. It's knowing that I can safely lift heavy things at home and not eff up my back again. It's not worrying that I'll hurt myself in some random way simply because I'm out of shape. It's telling the Perfectionism Monster inside my head to go suck it and put my "failures" into proper perspective.

CrossFit has improved my actual outside-the-gym life in very profound ways. So much more important than a PR (which is still important!).

So today I will go back again for my 100th WOD. I didn't actually contrive this, that the 100th WOD would be on the first anniversary; it just happened that way because of crazy random happenstance with my schedule this month. And really, I have more than a hundred workouts in my log--I don't count my travel WODs or 5Ks or anything like that toward the CrossFit Kennesaw WODs.

I'm excited. I have lots of specific fitness goals for myself, but I won't worry about that tonight. I'll celebrate the fact that I did this for A WHOLE YEAR and my life is so much better for it!

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