Thursday, December 18, 2014

Equality...or my CrossFit box

* Disclaimer: There are over 5,500 CrossFit affiliates in the world and growing daily. (Source: That being said, the variety of trainers, coaches, and "ways of doing business" are incredibly diverse. My experiences and thoughts here are of one single "box". Your experience can and will most likely be different than mine.

I have started and stopped this blog post three times before today. The general thoughts going around this are the level of equality upon stepping inside a CrossFit box. Let me explain:

I am an extreme novice at this point...about halfway through my 7th week. I have been very consistent and have only missed one weekday workout and only because I was racing a half marathon the next day. I even made it on Thanksgiving. So with that being said, take my thoughts with a grain of salt.

Working out in a mainstream gym like Gold's, Planet Fitness, etc. is very different than in a CrossFit affiliate. For one, the level of accountability is huge. From what I hear, if you say you're going to be there and you don't show, they'll be texting you about where you are at. I haven't had that issue yet so I can't verify. Anyway, the accountability spills into everything. From every movement being executed correctly, the amount of weight, the level of intensity...the trainers hold you to the line. What about that line, though? Where is it and how do you know?

Let's back up to walking in the door. It doesn't matter what your pedigree is when you show up. You could be a PhD teaching nuclear physics at the local college or a college student in economics or a high school student or a stay-at-home mom or whatever...fill in the blank. I'm 7+ weeks in and not a single person has asked what I do for a living. I don't care, either, because while some are clearly there for the workout+social activity, I am not. That doesn't mean I'm cold to others but I'm there for a reason and making new friends with similar goals is simply a fringe benefit that I like and makes it all a little more "fun" and less miserable. :) Miserable? Well sucks! Haven't I mentioned that before?! Heck, I just started a new book called "Embrace the Suck" so I know I'm not alone here. So there is equality across the board here...scrape off your pedigree and letters behind your name and just show up. First Name. Last Name. Present!

Then there is the "not all are created equal." That is very true, too. God has bestowed each of us with different abilities, talents, different types of muscle fibers, etc. There are some things that some of us will never be able to master like the person across the room. That's ok. Instead, I have to keep reminding myself to focus on learning, getting better/stronger every day, and NOT quitting. I won't lie: the idea to quit and not return visits me a few times a week at this point. That whole comparison trap is one reason and the other is the social "outcast" I have always been...for some 41 years now. I was that kid in high school picked last, played no sports, played in the band, and did very well in school. Not a "geek" but not popular, either. I still remember by name my #1 bully who still lives nearby. I couldn't pick him out of a crowd but some 20+ years later, I haven't forgotten how that feels. I never thought the feeling of inadequacy would leak into this new routine of mine but it has. Nope...I'm not being bullied but feeling like all eyes are on me because I SUCK at this certainly is there.

Show up, give your absolute best, do your best to keep a positive attitude about it, leave your pedigree and "life issues" at the door, listen to your trainer and leave with your head held high ready to attack the day. That's the best advice I could give and give to myself. The icing on the cake is having the coaches/trainers say "Nice job! Way to get down in that squat. Nice intensity. Keep up the great work! Keep going! Great form. Way to keep your back straight." Those little comments, even from across the room are gold. They are the measuring stick that success is measured by. They also hold the right to call you out when you need to be...or corrected when the movement isn't being executed correctly.

So equality...lots of it and still, not much...depending on your viewpoint. It's a unique environment where anyone can show up and choose to give it a whirl. It's easy to get intimidated, too, but with great coaches, forward progress can be made if you commit. I often wonder if I'd prefer a one-on-one coaching environment or a class environment like I'm in now. I'd appreciate the attention in a one-on-one session but I love the daily interactions with fellow athletes and pushing through a tough WOD together...and finishing. It's always a priceless sight to see so many collapsed on the ground post-WOD. The benefits of the class setting, in my opinion, outweigh the one-on-one. I'm happy right where I am and will keep pressing on...and posing in the mirror...looking for those little changes. :)

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