Nine rounds of nine deadlifts, nine push-ups. Seemed easy enough.
Lift a barbell off the ground, lift my body off the ground. Really,
what's so hard about that?
And yet four rounds and less than four minutes in, my push-ups failed.
On my knees, no less. I'd never failed at anything I'd tried to
lift, or push, or pull, or press. I never knew I could push myself to
fail at those things. I thought I was pretty fit at that point, and
yet here I was, failing.
That was 1 year, 7 months, and 30 days ago. 608 days total.
(I tried to hold off until two years to write this, I really did. But
I'm the first to admit that I never thought I'd be here now. I've
never stuck to any sort of exercise program for more than a year after
college. I've never joined anything that would require me to
willingly hang out with other people (well, I suppose happy hour is
the exception). Honestly, I don't much like other people -- they take
energy and usually annoy me.
And then 608 days ago, I failed at nine rounds of nine deadlifts, nine
push-ups. And suddenly everything changed. I wanted to fail more,
and I didn't care if it meant I had to do something completely outside
my usual M.O.
So here I am. I couldn't wait until my two-year anniversary to write
this because the journey after year one has been so … different. The
first year of CrossFit is magical: the meteoric strength gains, the
weekly PRs, the drastic changes in body composition – when I tried
talking to people about CrossFit during the first year it really did
sound like I'd joined a cult. I gather that's a common experience
among the newly converted.
And then year two came along, and things are … well, they're
different. Those meteoric strength gains? Incremental has become my
standard now. The weekly PRs? Some days ten pounds less or two
minutes slower is the best I can do for that day. No new changes in
body composition have shown themselves, instead I'm just trying to
maintain what's there, with the added realization that the things I
eat and drink absolutely make a difference in how I perform and feel
the next day. (And there really is such a thing as a beer belly.
And yet despite these reasons, or maybe because of them, year two is
the year CrossFit stuck.
Because this is the year I've started to master skills I never thought
I could do. Hell, some of them I'd never even heard of before.
Kipping pull-ups? Kipping? WTF is that? And yet 13 months in my
chin kipped itself over the bar a few times without a band.
Double-unders? Smacked myself so many times that finally getting the
hang of them around 16 months was a revelation in welt-free ankles.
Power cleans? Turns out there's more to that idea than just tidying
up the house before guests arrive.
Because this is the year I've been humbled. Rx? I still can't do it
most WODs, because dammit, Rx is heavy! DFL? Happens more times than
I can count -- the white board will back me up on this one. DNF? I
had my first one, and I'm guessing it won't be my last. Each of these
things bruises my ego a little, but there are days when the most I can
give puts me over the finish line last, or not over the finish line at
all. It's humbling. It hurts. But in the end it's okay.
Because this is also the year of understanding. A bruised ego heals a
lot faster than a physical injury, so letting my ego take the hit
first means I can still make it to the gym the next day. This is the
year of full range-of-motion, because flexibility and strength gains
leave no room for excuses as to why my chest didn't hit the deck on
that push-up or my thighs weren't below parallel on that squat. And
this is the year the concept of recovery has started to make sense,
which, against everything I thought I knew before, that more exercise
is better and days off are for wusses, I'm pretty sure has made me
stronger and helped keep me injury-free. Rest days are the icing on
the endorphin cake that CrossFit feeds me -- I eat them without guilt
knowing that the next time I hit the gym, I'm ready, I'm relaxed, and
I can do it without getting hurt.
And so why am I here 608 days later writing a paean to CrossFit, and
to Wildcat Crossfit specifically? Because quite simply, I've never
found anything that continues to be so fun, so effective, and have
such a big impact on my life.
I didn't know how fun it could be to meet new people and cheer them on
as they gain new strength, set new PRs, sweat their asses off, and
push themselves to do things they never thought possible. And I
certainly didn't know how fun it could be to do the same things beside
them and hear them cheering me on, too.
I didn't know how effective great programming and awesome coaching
could be, that changing up workouts every day and doing things I
dislike could keep my muscles guessing and my mind from getting bored,
ultimately making me stronger than I've ever been, but more
importantly keeping me sane, because for at least a small part of my
day, my only goal is to finish that last burpee or kip that last
pull-up or jerk that last clean. All of my worries and annoyances and
tedium are gone at that moment and nothing else matters.
And so after 608 days, I want to thank you again, Wildcat CrossFit,
for the amazing community you've generated. The coaches, the
athletes, the gym, family-friendly barbecues, the dogs (Lucy!), full
moon workouts, superheros, Yoda -- it's the perfect cocktail that's
kept me motivated for 1 year, 7 months, and 30 days, against every
force of habit I've used as an excuse in the past. The space you give
me to sweat and curse and laugh and embarrass myself (sometimes all in
one workout) isn't something I ever expected to find by joining
something, let alone by joining a gym. You inspire me, you strengthen
me, you encourage me, you make me a better human being. Each of you
continues to change my life in unexpected ways, and I can't thank you
enough for the differences that you've made, and continue to make.