Crossfit “New You” Review

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. 🥈

becca-matimba-284905-unsplashThe 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.

Photo by Becca Matimba on Unsplash

Gym Class Jitters

It’s almost 7pm. My first Crossfit class starts in 30 minutes and I’m still at home. I’ve got the jitters.

Suddenly I’m back in 4th grade gym class. Once or maybe twice a year they’d have us go the rounds through a national or state fitness test, things like sprints, endurance runs, sit-ups, burpees, and the chin-ups bar although girls only had to hang on the bar and not actually do chin-ups.

I HATED gym class as it was, but this fitness test was my annual nightmare. I wasn’t an overweight kid…I simply wasn’t very strong nor did I have any cardio capacity. I scored last or came close to failing every single test that was administered. My heart would pound out of my chest and I would gasp for air whenever I ran or exerted myself. It was downright frightening, not exhilarating like it seemed to be for every other kid.

I have a feeling the phys ed teachers were not taught to monitor whether a child’s heart rate was in the danger zone. I’m pretty sure that was no consideration whatsoever in the mid-70s. No wonder it was frightening for me.

And for a kid who otherwise got straight As in school, gym class was a weekly lesson in humiliation, and this physical test was the single most humiliating event of the year. I didn’t understand what athletic prowess had to do with learning and why we were graded on it. And what did dodge ball have to do with real life at any other time during the year?

I remember the internal battle in my head even then:

“It’s ok, not everybody is an athlete. Some of us prefer books instead. This world is full of all kinds of people. But even still, why am I THE WORST in gym class?”

My family didn’t value athletic pursuits. No one exercised. Our world revolved around food. We kids were not encouraged to be “play outside” kind of people. It shouldn’t be a surprise that I gravitated toward books. So when it came to fitness tests, I always fell short of whatever physical standard needed to be met.


What I’ve learned since then! Ha! Life is gym class. Life is sweat and exertion and movement and strength and balance. Your choice whether you engage in it gracefully.  Your choice whether you get to enjoy the best views, vistas from a mountaintop you made the effort to climb (or to ski down. 😉)

I have no idea what to expect today. Ok, that’s not entirely true. I’ve seen the videos….I’ve heard people talk about Crossfit for a few years now. How incredibly hard it is. How they are pushed beyond their self-imposed limits. The injuries. The transformations. The zealots. The totally ripped bodies of the participants. I want to join those ranks. I’m doing what I always thought I could not do.

Running, weight lifting, push ups, sit ups, burpees, jumps, squats, whatever else is thrown at me. I don’t care if I’m slow. I know I’ll be discouraged. Very discouraged. I just hope I will be able to see some progress. And I clearly need an accountability partner. It would be a bonus to make some friends in the process.

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My friend Amy told me it was ok to be selfish and take care of me. Why have I never heard that from anyone before?

Here’s to a new me, starting today. Let’s see where this gets me at the end of six weeks.

You Must Do the Thing You Cannot Do, v2

Some of you might remember my post last month about how I pressed myself to do a singing gig with my husband in early July. I love to sing, I like the sound of my singing voice, and I have no problem doing it. I am definitely a singer.

What I am not, however, is an entertainer. I didn’t make that distinction in the last post. There’s a huge difference when all eyes are on you – the audience is expecting you to guide them, cheer them up, or deliver a mood of some kind. It can be intimidating. I have way more experience and confidence as a singer but not as an entertainer, not for a whole show. Just wanted to share that. That’s not what this post is about, though…

Nevertheless I did it. I remembered the lines of the songs, no problem, and although I didn’t hit the right pitch with every single note, it was a decent performance. We had a high turnout in our town square for the event and I saw several friendly faces in the audience. Several friends heard me sing for the first time and were genuinely surprised.

I thoughtfully chose my outfit for the night…an off shoulder jumper in blue, not too casual and not too dressy. It was a good hair night…the weather wasn’t too humid so I didn’t dissolve into a sweaty puddle like I am often prone to do. I looked alright, at least as good as I can look lately.


A local photographer came out and took photos of the event. She knows my husband well and likes us both, so she took over 300 photos of the event and posted them on Facebook.

It crushed me.

Several of my friends near and far liked the photos of course, and as that number grew, I grew too…more and more despondent. No hiding anymore that I’m 80 pounds overweight. It’s not like people don’t know….everybody knows I’m obese, but I am careful about the photos that are posted on Facebook. There was no getting around it this time.

And I just sobbed for days on end.

In contrast, my husband was flying high after the event, very happy about how it transpired. He complimented my work over and over, to the point of it feeling insincere. Don’t get me wrong: he doesn’t spew fake flattery toward anyone, but for whatever reason his compliments rang hollow with me. It felt like he was going overboard with the compliments so I would be sure to sing again…and yet this whole time, he was oblivous to how I was upset.

Funny how two people can view the same thing totally different ways, but that’s a truism about life, isn’t it?

I finally explained that I was very unhappy about being captured accurately in the pictures – which are lovely pictures and I should thank the photographer for taking her time to shoot and post so many photos – because I was portrayed exactly as the middle-aged, obese woman I am today, over and over again, from several different angles. The pictures do not lie. And yet I can’t be unhappy because the photographer was just capturing what was otherwise a lovely evening in her very talented way.

He and our kids pleaded with me that I looked fine – beautiful, even. I mean, sure…I was more dressed up than normal and it was “nice” relative to what they see from me daily.

But that’s not what I saw. All I saw were huge hips, a giant belly, short, lumpy arms, and a double chin. I mean, you may as well slap a couple of strings on me and pull me along the Macy’s parade…I’d fit right in!

And then for my husband to realize that I was upset that certain friends of mine had “liked” my photo…it just spiraled down from there. He became hurt that my feelings about what my friends thought was more important than what he thought about me. Then I got angry that he couldn’t just support me at one of the lowest points in my life, not that I haven’t been down in the dumps about my physical appearance before. I’ve been down in the dumps about it for 20 years. Ok, longer than that: how about always. But it got way worse in the second half of my life. Apparently I don’t handle stress all that well and it shows, in ways I cannot hide.

We slept apart for a few weeks. I was so angry at him and disappointed with myself I couldn’t even talk about it. I didn’t want anything to do with him. I figured I was on my own to figure it out, because ultimately I am, so I kept myself literally, physically on my own.

The bottom line is you either accept yourself as-is (which obviously isn’t happening here) or do something about it. I mean, there’s no point in praying about this because God doesn’t answer prayers to solve problems you can and must solve for yourself.

The fact is, when I look in the mirror, I don’t know who that woman is. And I could not hate who and what I see in the mirror more than I do right now. It’s a tough thing to admit but it’s the 100% truth.


Needless to say, July was a rough month.

So I am doing the thing I cannot do. I signed up for Crossfit and it starts tomorrow. I don’t usually announce stuff like this because truth be told, I try various things to get fit and none of them stick….walking, yoga, running, whatever…

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You have no idea….I am not an athlete. Never was. I am not strong, not limber, not coordinated. I get winded so easily and I sweat profusely with very little effort or stress – I always have. The Crossfit facility has no air conditioning. I’m walking around with plantar fasciitis…I have no idea how this will work but I decided that I MUST do this. It was the most radical solution I could devise.

This isn’t even real Crossfit. I’ve enrolled in a six-week “baby” Crossfit program, three days a week. If I can demonstrate an ability to get through that, I can graduate to a real Crossfit program. This approach sounds about right for my fitness level.

I must do something about how I feel versus just sit and cry about it. Here’s to Michelle Obama arms, a perky tush, squares on my belly, and sculpted legs. Wish me luck. Wish me strength and perseverance.

What’s the thing you cannot do? Will you dare to give it a go?

Photo by Justyn Warner on Unsplash