Friday, November 14, 2014

Starting CrossFit

I started CrossFit last week and I am amazed at how much I love it. The dynamic exercises in each class are fun and rewarding. I feel accomplished after every class and find myself smiling in the midst of brutal workouts. It barely bothers me that I'm the weakest person in the class because everyone, trainers and other people in the class, is so encouraging and supportive. The trainers are great at what they do. The owner of the CrossFit box, Rob, is passionate, but values form and safety first. I was afraid I'd be too weak to do it, but everything is scaled or modified to your abilities so you can learn safely and progress when you're able.

The stupidest thing that I love about it is I'm apparently flexible. I had no idea that I could be considered flexible. I'm used to flexible meaning yogis who can touch their head to their knees with legs straight. My whole life I've felt like everyone around me is naturally good at something, at least one thing, and I had nothing. I'm sure most people feel this way, but I've finally found something that's innate to my person that I get to be proud of. Like I said, it's stupid. What I work hardest at is what I should be most proud.

Funnily enough, the ~7 years of ballet training I have done throughout my life (from age ~5-10 and then 14-15) seems to have ingrained some default foot positions for me. Turning my feet out wide is actually not so good for some of the lifting movements :D. There are a lot of little reminders I make to myself during a class, to keep all the parts of my body going in the right ways, but a lot of it is "just doing it". As intimidating as it is to be shown a move, told about the important parts, and then told to do it, it's really the most effective way to learn something physical. You just have to do it (safely) and keep adjusting until you get it right. Every little adjustment that sticks feels like a reward, like learning that I should throw my left leg back for a Split Jerk (my right foot turns out too easily).

CrossFit pushes me outside of my safety zone, physically and mentally. I push my body to be better, to be stronger, to be faster. The soreness that sticks with me for days afterwards makes me feel happy. I fight anxiety on a daily basis, but when I'm in the middle of a workout, most of it fades away and I just invest myself in what my body can do. I worry about learning quickly enough, but every time I get something right and I can feel that it's right, I get such a thrill. It's still a struggle to get myself to each class and ride down the anxiety, but as soon as I start rolling out on a foam roller before class, I know I am there to stay for the hour. I even went to a morning class yesterday, at 6:30 AM. It was just 5 of us in the class, plus the trainer, and I felt so accomplished for the rest of the day.

I never thought I'd like this as much as I am so far. I have shied away from regular exercise my whole life. I never felt like my dance classes or soccer in middle school was a real work-out, I never felt like I got better at those. I think the problems were: not enough individualized attention from the instructor, not enough self-confidence, not enough praise or even critique/instruction in some cases (mostly soccer). I am still not very self-confident, but I feel like I get thorough instruction from the trainers at this box and I always feel comfortable asking for clarification. This is not the kind of box that will push you until you injure yourself, which is what scared me about CrossFit in the first place. I've read horror stories about people working so hard that they puke, and then keep going. Rob told me the first time that I met him that CrossFit Watch City is not that kind of place. Going to CrossFit makes me feel like I can learn to do anything. Fearing being bad at something is the biggest obstacle I've had in sticking with some form of exercise.

Will my enthusiasm falter? Maybe. I've promised myself a month of this, at least. I want to stay active over the winter. I would love to stick with this beyond the winter, as the idea of being fast and strong has been appealing to me for a long time. I think this might be a really great community with which to work towards those goals.

If you want to learn more about CrossFit, please check out the official CrossFit website.

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