I’m about to hit the 12-week mark of being a regular CrossFitter (at Clear Lake CrossFit, which I love). I’ve learned the difference between a power clean and a hang clean, have gotten down to two ab mats when doing a handstand pushup, and have learned exactly why rowing and wallballs are hated so much.
I’ve also learned why people get so addicted to CrossFit, and in the process, learned a few things that not only make me a better athlete (I still feel weird using that word to describe myself!) but a better person. So, in no particular order, here’s what’s coming out of my time at the box:
- You are competing against yourself, every day. It’s sometimes ego-crushing to see other peoples’ scores on the whiteboard. One WOD was purely lifting, and I left that morning wanting to cry, tail tucked between my legs. It’s not that I’m not strong for my size – it’s that I don’t have the same weight behind my lifts that my peers do. But if I can PR a lift? Look back on my notebook and realize I’ve done a timed workout faster? Who cares about the whiteboard then? I’ve got to bring my A-game and beat my last time, my last weight.
- You need your A-game. It applies in life, too, but especially in CrossFit. You’re there to better yourself, to push through your limits. “The limit does not exist,” to quote Cady Heron. But if you don’t give it your all, if you stumble through the WOD halfheartedly, you’re going to stay the same. You’re not going to see changes. And you’re not going to be in a sweaty puddle on the floor at the end, feeling completely exhilarated.
- Do what scares you. I admit that I am still a little afraid every time I push press, jerk, or otherwise heave a loaded barbell over my head. I still get a little nervous when I kick up to handstand on the wall. But the more I do it – the more I tell my fear to go sit in the corner with its little dunce cap – the easier it gets. Yesterday, I heaved a 50-pound barbell over my head in a push press. I wanted to do a happy dance, but I still had to get through the WOD…
I get that CrossFit isn’t for everyone, but in the three months I’ve been doing it, I’ve found more than just a challenging workout. I’ve found a place where, for an hour three times a week (sometimes four), I can just be. I can get all philosophical here and talk about taking out my outside-world stress and insecurity on the bar, and how empowering it is to lift heavy and do things I didn’t think I’d ever do… but I won’t.
Because the truth is, I also have fun. We do silly things like a WOD where we’re carrying a pumpkin the entire time. We play warm-up games and have a weekly yoga class where you’re likely to hear some of us laughing as we try to get into the poses. We cheer each other on and fist-bump and high-five. Yes, we work hard. But we enjoy it (or at least, I do, even though if you mention rowing or wallballs to me I’ll look like you just told me I can’t ever have coffee again.)