In July of 2011, I started my CrossFit journey. My girlfriend and colleague, Amy, wrote an amazing blog post on being a CrossFit Mom a few weeks back. She touched upon all the reasons that I too fell in love with CrossFit.
1. Movement is a requirement for life. Even at the most basic level of breathing, it requires us to move our rib cage in and out. The more we move, the more we reinforce our health and our life. It’s one of the reasons I teach Move by Design at our office, because every single person needs to work on movement.
2. Pushing one’s self at a new sport builds strength and capability. What I have gained from CrossFit, I never gained from my years in swimming, running, or working out at other big box gyms or community centres. I gained an inner and outer strength, my inner strength was just as important as the outer in that not only did I look better, but I functioned better.
3. Anyone can do it. What I used to think was impossible or unreachable – getting strong but not bulky, Olympic lifting, doing a pull up, etc. – has proven the opposite. I trained pregnant and did a dead lift of 120 pounds in my 8th month. I train with men and women of different sizes, different body shapes, different ages, different capabilities, and at different stages in their lives. To say “exercise isn’t for me” is a fallacy. It’s not only a complete contradiction to what your body requires, it’s an excuse. And it wasn’t until my eyes were opened at my local CrossFit gym, that I put aside all the years of excuses bottled up in me that kept me from being the best version of myself.
4. I needed a coach. For years, working out at a gym or running on my own was my way of training without having people pay attention to me at the same time. I could blend in at the gym on the machines or go unnoticed on the road as another runner slogging through her miles. But the years of not asking for help and “doing my own thing” ended up year after year with the same results – limited muscle tone, still overweight, and no real change in my basic health. I ran marathons and half marathons and still carried around extra weight! From the moment I had my first Foundations class at CrossFit, I spend my entire sessions with a certified coach. And six months later, I could not believe the difference in the level of my health – measured in strength, stamina, flexibility, mobility, lung capacity – because of that coaching.
5. The Community. Unlike anything I have ever experienced in another sport, the love for CrossFit by CrossFitters is almost cult-like in the best definition of the word. Just ask someone who is hooked, and you will discover the love/hate relationship we all have with it. The HATE is when you walk into the gym (the box) and see the WOD (Workout Of the Day) for the first time and a deep sense of dread takes over your body. A combination of Olympic lifts, burpees, push ups, sit ups, pull ups, wall balls, kettle bells, hand stands, sprinting, gymnastics, and more in a dizzying WOD that makes you wonder (EVERY SINGLE DAY) whether or not you’ll complete it without passing out. But the LOVE is that high, that sense of accomplishment, that overwhelming exhaustion that has you lying on the floor after you’re done. I live for that LOVE. CrossFitters are a different group in that we also support one another through the workout. Classes are small, no more than 10 people, and we are all there to cheer one another on and make sure we finish. Not one person leaves the gym until we are all finished. And as we finish, a round of applause and cheers breaks out to congratulate all of the finishers. And then we all come back within a day or two to do it again.
So, yesterday, I returned to my CrossFit Journey after taking six weeks off. Two weeks prior to baby M coming, I found that the training sessions were becoming too much for my body and I was more cranky in the workouts than I was happy. And it took me four weeks after having her (she was a gentle cesarean birth) that I felt comfortable getting back and committing once again to training. I spent a half hour in the gym working mainly on mobility and some basic strength movements – rowing, foam rolling, stretching, push ups, squats, lunges, and step-ups on a box jump. It was far from what I was used to doing in the gym (first time I was able to leave the gym without breathing heavily and getting my heart rate back to normal) but it was a first step back. I recognized my limitations after having a baby and respected them but also started pushing myself a bit.
This morning I’m feeling it. Sore legs, chest, and arms (hello lunges, squats, and push ups). It’s the Best. Feeling. Ever. I missed that soreness knowing I’m doing something awesome for my health. The goal? A WOD in two weeks.
And how did M feel about her first training session at CrossFit with her mom? Maybe not too impressed, but like Amy, I look forward to hearing “Wow, Mom!” in a few years. There is something incredibly empowering showing my kids that their mom, like their dad, can be strong and capable.