Crossfit: Lessons, Progress, and "Jackie"

My journey into Crossfit isn’t much different than the average person. I came to Crossfit at the urging of a friend who spotted a Groupon deal and knew I would be game to try it with her.  At the time, I was doing my own routine of circuit/metabolic training and standard globo gym heavy (ish) weightlifting, with some cardio thrown into the mix. I was ready for a change to my routine and had been itching to try Crossfit for a few months. I eagerly clicked "buy” and schedule my first workout. IMG_9334

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[photography by Joshua Winn; property of Jason Struck/Crossfit Full Circle]

I walked in with my friend, filled out paperwork, learned some basics, and before I knew it, we were ready to do our free trail workout –a 15min AMRAP of push ups, KB swings, and rowing.  I was quickly humbled at my lack of strength (uh, hello majorly assisted push ups) and speed (hardest 250m row of my life). We both left a sweaty mess and intrigued. I was instantly hooked – I went through the fundamentals courses quickly, tested into Level 1, and was eager to get going. Here were people, and lots of women no less, picking up heavy things, swinging kettlebells, and doing enough pull ups to make my head spin – I felt right at home. Interestingly enough, my friend decided it wasn’t really her cup of tea, and bowed out. I kept on and signed up for a year membership before my Groupon deal even ran out.

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[photography by Joshua Winn; property of Jason Struck/Crossfit Full Circle]

I remember going into my first Level 1 workout, a few days after my test, with a stomach full of nerves. On the white board:

Deadlifts 6x4

WOD - 3 rounds for time:

Run 400m & 25 KB swings (16kg)

It was slightly terrified. I had rarely done deadlifts on my own but had managed to work up to 145# in my fundamentals class, so I used that and my coach’s advice, as my starting point. I ended up using 135# & 145# for my deadlifts and was thrilled. After our strength work, it was WOD time.  I was very nervous since I was, and continue to be, a terrible runner. The only comforting thing about that morning was the presence of familiar KB swings. I completed the WOD in 11:11 and was the last to finish.  Suffice it to say, I left with burning lungs and I was sore for days.

I dutifully came in the next day only to see "Jackie” on the white board. This is going to be bad, I thought to myself. Before I knew it, it was "3,2,1..GO" and I was just trying to survive. "Jackie" just about killed me – I used 120# worth of band assistance for the pull-ups (I did deadhangs) and finished in 18:03.  Despite being sore in ways I had never imagined, I kept going – 5 times a week, every week.

Fast forward six months later and a lot has changed.

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[photography by Joshua Winn; property of Jason Struck/Crossfit Full Circle]

I’ve learned that I’m much, much stronger than I think I am. I no longer avoid deadlifts – in fact, they are my favorite lift. I started out being able to deadlift 145# and can now deadlift 230#. I never dreamed I would be able to deadlift 1.5x my bodyweight or front squat nearly 150#. But I can and I did.  Throwing 100+ lbs overhead still freaks me out but instead of letting that cripple me, I try to use it to motivate me. If I’m not a little scared when I’m staring at that barbell – it’s not heavy enough. Learning to turn fear and nerves into power and motivation was a huge turning point for me. I owe a lot of that to my coaches and my fellow athletes for pushing me to be better.

I’ve learned that mental strength is just as important as physical strength. My head gets the way, a lot, but I’ve learned that if I just keep going for more rep, five more pounds, or a few more steps, the benefits far outweigh the discomfort. Plus, once you’ve done "Fran” at 7am, the rest of your day seems pretty easy.

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[photography by Joshua Winn; property of Jason Struck/Crossfit Full Circle]

I’ve learned that anything is achievable if you have a plan and work hard - or rather "if it bleeds, we can kill it” (which is stenciled up on the gym wall). There’s no doubt that getting your first kipping pull-up or setting a new PR feels good – that high is hard to beat. What makes it feel even better is knowing that you’ve worked hard, day in and day out, to get there. That feeling is what is so addictive. The struggle and the hard routine is what got me hooked – the PR high is just a bonus.

Oh, and I’ve met "Jackie” a few times since our first date and my best time has been 10:26 with 25# worth of pull up assistance. Next time, I hope to see an “Rx” next to my name. Until then, I will work hard, lift heavy, and love every second of it.