I know what you’re thinking, CrossFit is for those crazy muscle heads. It’s for athletes, and people that are already fit. CrossFit people only want to talk about CrossFit, and don’t know what a shirt is. I know you’re thinking it, because I was thinking it before I joined this community. And yes, I said community, not gym because that’s what it is.
In my Self Love post, I talk about my journey to loving myself and how CrossFit contributed to that process. Today I’d like to dive in a little more. Talking about how I started, and why I continue. I’ll also talk about what this has done for my mental health and self-confidence.
The beginning. My first experience with CrossFit, actually wasn’t a positive one. I had recently moved and was looking for a gym in my neighborhood, but there weren’t many options. The closest gym was a CrossFit gym, so I was like ‘why not’. They had an introduction class for all levels, so I took a shot and signed up. At this point I had not been active in some time, so I was starting my fitness from scratch and I was super nervous about doing so. That Saturday I showed up, which was half the battle. The workout was an AMRAP (as many rounds as possible in a set time) of running, weighted sit-ups, and I think squats. Honestly, all I remembered was the running, and the sit-ups. I remember the class moved fast, and I was having a hard time completing what was asked of me. Everyone else was lapping me, and I didn’t feel good about the whole experience. I felt out of place, I felt out of shape, and I felt just not comfortable in this setting. In this moment I decided, CrossFit was just not for me.
What I know now, that I didn’t know then, is although there are a lot of CrossFit gyms, they aren’t all created equal. Just because that gym didn’t work for me, it didn’t mean another wouldn’t be a fit.
I moved on and didn’t think about it any further. With little options near home, I focused my search around work. I started trying different Barre classes, and although I enjoyed it, it started to feel monotonous. I started to investigate other options to add to my fitness routine. My searches landed me on CrossFit One Nation. They were about to start a program they called New You, which was aimed at people new to CrossFit. I wrote an email inquiring and then scheduled a time to check out the gym, and talk about the program.
Taking a tour of the gym, I remember seeing a lot of “regular people” coming and going. What I mean by that, is people that looked like me. I liked seeing a variety of ages, gender, all different shapes and sizes, and from what I saw different abilities. This gym didn’t give off an intimidating vibe, like I feared I’d encounter. This gave me the confidence to say, okay, let’s give this a try. The only downfall to signing up, was the class time. The only available time slot was 6AM and I live 45 mins away AND I’m not a morning person. Doing anything at this time in the morning is a HUGE commitment by me. But I signed up, and told myself every morning, you can do anything for 6 weeks.
Classes were 3 days a week, and I struggled every single morning to wake up. Not to mention the anxiety I was having about going to each class; scared of all the different movements that were all new to me. I don’t know where the commitment came from, but I was determined to finish this out. With each class, I was building relationships with coaches and with the other people in class. I think those relationships helped me want to continue, there was a sense of reliability and being there for each other. I also trusted the coaches, and I trusted they’d push me enough, but not beyond what I was capable of at the time.
Funny side note here: I had the same coach just about every single class, Lachlan. I missed his name the first class with him, and instead of asking, I just went along. 3 weeks went by and I still had no idea what his name was! When you are coached by someone 3x a week for 3 weeks, too much time has gone by to ask for a name, so I let more and more time pass. Finally, I resorted to internet stalking with what little information I had, in search of a name. Finally, I found it! And that’s how I learned Lachlan’s name, probably 4 weeks in. Awkwardddd.
By the end of New You, I really felt connected to this CrossFit gym. The people, the coaches, the workouts. I wanted to continue the journey, and so I signed up. Now in New You, you are with all people that were new, so attending my first “real” class was also nerve-wracking! It shouldn’t be, but it was. I jumped in and was welcomed by the 4:30 crew. Kate was someone I met early on, and she welcomed me into the fold. I can’t remember how, but we started chatting every class, and we grew close quick. She was someone I could confide in when I was frustrated with class or with a workout or even with myself. She was a big support early on, and for me having a support system was helping me continue to show up. Building relationships feels like part of the experience with CrossFit. It’s not just about the workouts, it’s about building these friendships with the people that are suffering and growing along with you.
I started CrossFit June 20, 2016. Since then, I’ve done 2 Opens, CrossFit’s worldwide competition. This is the competition that brings athletes to The Games, but for the average box, it’s a fun way to compete with your friends, and get a taste of that competition atmosphere in a fun way. I’ve also competed in an individual competition, the MarshVegas ThrowDown, ranking 8th in the scaled division. I also started to drop-in to other boxes, including 2 while in Italy. The reason I bring these things up, is prior to CrossFit, I hated doing things alone. I was always nervous and scared and too anxious to just go after something. And although I still get nerves doing these things, my confidence is high enough that I just do them anyways.
The MarshVegas competition, I was actually supposed to do with a friend, and at the last minute she was unable to attend. Richard was away, and no one was available that day, so I didn’t even have anyone to come with me. But I made a commitment and so I went alone. Now this is how amazing the CrossFit community is. I didn’t know anyone, and I was just sitting there waiting for my heat to start, when a group of girls from CrossFit Kells adopted me into their group. They kept me company and cheered for me just as loud as they were cheering for the people they knew. Richard and his mom eventually made it to also cheer me on, but the Kells girls didn’t abandon me. They had just met me and instantly became a huge wave of support for me. It meant a great deal to me, because I was SO nervous that day. If you girls ever read this, thank you! You helped me so much that day. The community support, not just among your gym, but among Crossfitters in general is something you feel and will experience.
“Dropping-in”, this is what we call when we attend a gym that isn’t our own. After about a year, I started feeling like I could do this. I don’t travel often, but I’ve now dropped in a few times and so far, all have been positive experiences. HYTE CrossFit down in Fort Myers, where my grandparents live, welcomed me with open arms. I almost died when I saw the workout that day, and how much running was involved, but I was there, and I was going to get it done. The coaches were supportive and helpful, and I just gave it everything I had until the time cap. Me and running are not best friends, so seeing that workout at my own gym would had been a lot. Doing it not in the comfort of home, brought a wave of “OMG I can’t do this” nerves. But when a gym creates an atmosphere that supports you, you feel confident enough to try. And when you finish, it’s such a sense of accomplishment.
An even bigger drop-in was on our honeymoon. You see, Richard doesn’t do CrossFit, and we were in Italy and I don’t speak Italian, so I was so nervous of going alone and not understanding. Both gyms I went to, welcomed me with open arms: CrossFit Villa Albani in Rome, and CrossFit Gallo Nero in Florence I would recommend 100x over. They explained the workout to me in English, taught in Italian, but always made sure to check in with me to make sure I was okay. They made me feel comfortable and supported, even being so far from home. I also gained a huge sense of confidence in this trip. This was a big moment when I realized, hey I know what I’m doing, and I can do it. Even alone. Little things, like attending a gym out of country showed me that the work I put in at home translates across the world. You don’t realize how strong you are sometimes, until you venture off and do something you wouldn’t have done before.
2016 was all about learning. 2017 was about building confidence and experiencing the community. Enter 2018 I really started to see major improvements, which only boosted how I felt about myself and how I felt about CrossFit. We all improve at our own pace, and it was hard in the beginning to stop comparing myself to other members. I started tracking all workouts and weights, so I had something to compare myself to. So, I could compare myself to myself. We live in a world that puts so much pressure on looking a certain way and I fell victim to hating myself for not looking that way for many years. Over the past year, my goals have only been about being strong, and believing in myself. I want to lift heavier weight. I want to gain a more challenging skill. I want to get faster. I want to push myself further and believe in myself. I can’t remember the last time I thought, I just want to be skinny. As someone that has battled with weight, I can’t tell you how uplifting that is. And mentally it’s like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. It’s hard to put in words, but I can tell you 5 years ago I didn’t love who I was. Today I can say without a doubt, I love myself, inside and out. It didn’t happen overnight, and it didn’t happen alone. I don’t think I’d be the person I am today without CrossFit and without some key friends and coaches to help me along the way.
Some of those key people . . . .
Kate, Barb, Carla, and Jackie: There are many ladies at CrossFit that are truly amazing, but these are the women that I’d like to shout out. They support/supported me every class. I trust them, I support them back, and I’m just generally proud to have them in my life. They are each truly amazing women. I’m so glad that I’ve gotten to meet and be friends with each of them.
Erika: Erika is such an amazing coach, and an amazing woman. She helps me build my confidence, by simply forcing me trust myself. She also offers me a perspective that I don’t always see. Suddenly something that didn’t make sense, or something that was frustrating to me, just clicks. She knows when to push me, and when to let me just have a “fitness” day. I feel the care and support she gives us. If I’m being honest, a coach like Erika is why I continue to stay with this particular gym. The coaching she provides, not just for the body, but also for my mind is everything.
Now, do I still have days where I don’t feel great about myself? Of course, I’m human. Do I still have workouts that make me want to run and hide? Yes, I’m looking at you running WOD. And do I still need to work on confidence? Yup, it’s a work in progress. But am I better today than I was yesterday and the day before that, and the month and year before that? Yes, yes I am. Both mentally and physically. Will I continue to push myself to try new things? Yes.
Earlier I said, I didn’t think I’d be the person I am without CrossFit. Well, I take that back. I know I wouldn’t be this person without it. CrossFit has 100% helped me be a stronger version of myself. I’m so grateful to myself that I gave it second try.
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