It’s Sunday night and things are winding down here at home. I’m thinking about this past week. What makes today different is that I actually took a serious step toward better health and fitness by attending my first Crossfit class last Monday, and I had the guts to return on Wednesday and again on Friday.
You have no idea how monumental this is for me.
I showed up at the appointed hour on Monday evening. The place has no air conditioning so I kind of expected to sweat like crazy, but thankfully it wasn’t blistering outside. I’m doing the “New You Challenge” which is a six-week course, three days a week. Four other people signed up with me, three other women, all of whom have various weight loss/fitness goals, and a young guy who wants to build muscle. Michelle is our coach and she is a spunky, strong brunette gushing with contagious, positive energy.
I’m totally guessing but suspect this New You Challenge is well-known in Crossfit circles as the classic entry-level regimen. Presumably if you display a certain level of fitness when the whole thing is done, you can graduate to other classes. In other words, it’s a bit like being a guppy in beginner swim class.
I’m cool with that.
So Day 1: some time was spent with intros, weigh-ins, and some nutrition talk. Every single one of us was pretty pumped up. I liked that our class was small, and I have a feeling we’ll really get to know each other well as the weeks progress.
We then learned some upper body stretching exercises with PVC pipe – those felt good, did a little walking/running – whatever you could handle, and then tried these things called air squats – which resemble the motion of sitting on a chair and getting back up – which were increasingly tough to do. I think Monday was also the night we did sit-ups with this cushion tucked behind our butt which made sit-ups infinitely easier to do. I could definitely tell a difference in that I used my abs versus my lower back to lift up off the ground. It was incredible! We did three reps of these exercises in succession and timed it, blaring some great music. When it was done, I definitely felt that I had worked out, which was a great feeling. One of the women in my class looked a little defeated but I tried to cheer her up and told her we’re in it together.
You see, I’ve gone to the gym and done the circuits but it isn’t fun. I’ve hired a coach even, but for various reasons that didn’t really have the best impact either. There was a time I did Bikram yoga and LOVED it – made pretty good progress in my stretches and positions over a few months – but we moved out-of-state and I haven’t found anything convenient quite like that since. I walk on my own and I keep it low-key because I don’t want to overdo it, but I’m not making progress. It’s discouraging.
As exhilarated as I was Monday evening, posting about it on Facebook, I could feel my muscles seize up. I mean, whoa.
Tuesday? My thighs were killing me. Walking up and down stairs was frightening…my friend asked if I felt like Bambi shortly after being born, and yep, that about sums it up! I felt I couldn’t even trust my legs to hold me. Even getting up and down out of a sitting position was excruciating, and apparently totally normal as my teammates reported the same thing when we reconvened for the next session.
Then it was Wednesday and my legs still felt the same. I wondered how in the world I would get through Day 2, a bit concerned that we were going to work those same muscles. I mean, what do I know? Maybe this kind of pain is what athletes feel all the time and they push through it. “No pain, no gain”, right? Or is that old school and stupid? I am clueless. I mean, I’m not trying to say that it felt like my muscles had torn in two or anything, but I can’t say it felt, um, normal.
Turns out I didn’t have to worry on Wednesday. We worked a different set of muscles that evening. Tried the famous “box jump” which wasn’t as frightening as it looks on YouTube. Sandeep, the one guy in our class, was able to completely hop up onto the box that night to wild cheers from the rest of us, but none of us women felt confident to give it a go. Fortunately for us, Michelle shows us modifications that appropriately push our respective limits.
We each tried jumping onto the weights you put on the end of a bar bell. Some of us jumped up on one, two or three of those stacked high. We learned kettle bell lifts that night, too, and took our hand on the rowing machine which really got my heart racing.
But it was good…it reminded me of the time I joined a rowing team in Pittsburgh and won the only athletic medal I’ve learned in my life, for coming in second in some race on the Allegheny River. I should get that thing framed, really I should. 🥈
The end of Day 2’s “workout of the day” or WOD, was a huge victory for me. I realized I can do this. It was tough even to challenge me and leave me feeling like I really pushed myself, yet I am not discouraged by the fact that I can’t do the workout exactly as prescribed. We’re timed for our efforts, and although I am the slowest by far, I don’t care. I’m there. I’m doing it. And I realized I am ready for Day 4 tomorrow all the way through to Week 6 and beyond.
I don’t expect miracles with these efforts. After all, it’s not like I’m this master athlete, case in point: Day 3 introduced burpees, which I despise. I’m encouraged that I was able to do them, but I can’t really keep pace during the workout itself, so once again, I chose to do a mod instead.
However, I came a little early on Friday and saw a more advanced class in action. Once again, there were various levels of fitness among the people, but they were doing it together. And the women looked strong. It was a beautiful sight, really it was. And they were having fun, pushing their physical limits without killing themselves.
What has surprised me is the number of people who have high-fived me in some way. I’ve “friended” the coach and two of my classmates online and they are amazing. One of the women, Jessica, has an amazing, kick-ass attitude that leaves me in awe. Her good vibe is contagious.
And then there are my other friends who’ve made a point to congratulate me for taking this step, or to tell me I’m inspiring them. This surprised me as I didn’t expect so many women from different parts of my life to pull me aside or message me to say that I’m motivating THEM. I mean, that’s kinda crazy. I’ve hardly done anything yet.
What is the most surprising is how good I already feel emotionally. I’m proud of myself for taking a radical step like joining Crossfit. I am the first to attest that it isn’t as scary as that may sound. It’s very doable…which is the best thing about it. I can actually DO THIS. And I feel strong doing it, which is an incredibly empowering feeling. The five of us and our coach are high-fiving and cheering one another on through all of the demos. This is the most supportive environment I’ve ever been in and I’ve tried a bunch of things.
It seems that people don’t have a hoot what they look like doing it, they just want to get fit and strong, and that’s a beautiful thing to be.
Here’s to Week 2 with Kelly, Jessica, Yelena, Sandeep, and Coach Michelle. We got this.