One year in: Here’s what I’ve learned about CrossFit

I am very qualified to be writing this as I have made it to the gym once this week, but if CrossFit has taught me anything it’s that life sometimes gets in the way – and that’s okay. As a dear friend and coach said to me today, “The gym will always be there.”

I passed my one-year CrossFit mark last week, and looking back, I’ve learned a lot.

CrossFit will lift you up and yank you right back down

There are so many different movements in CrossFit. From gymnastics to Olympic lifting to cardio endurance, there’s bound to be something you’re good at… and inevitably something that gets your goat. I was pleased to find I had no fear of box jumps and no qualms with flipping upside-down against a wall.

Turns out deadlifts had my number. I’d load a bar I was more than capable of lifting, walk up, put my shins against it and stare.

And stare.

Bend to pick it up… then stare. I have no idea why. It’s literally just picking something up and putting it down. WHY was this so difficult?! I knew this was a fundamental movement I had to get better at, so I got over it through immersion: I put a big deadlift number on my year-end goals, never missed a deadlift day on purpose and pushed myself a little more each time. My hesitation time shortened each session, and I think I can finally say I’m cured of deadlift paralysis.

I’ve learned to adapt

When I started, our box was what HGTV experts might call “cozy” – perfect for our tight-knit community, but not expansive by any means. On days when more people are in class than equipment is available, we adjust. We share bars, scale up farmer’s carries or modify movements to make it work.

Speaking of modifying movements, I’ve found that good coaches will strip you of every excuse you have for why you can’t do a workout. When my hands were torn to shreds from Murph or a wicked rowing session, we found ways to modify gymnastics work. As they love to say in CrossFit, workouts are “infinitely scalable.”


Hell, I even WODded in socks when I grabbed the wrong right shoe in the dark at 5:15 a.m. Just like in life – you do the best you can with what you’ve got and make it work.

This is bigger than my body

I’ve said before I started CrossFit because I wanted to find a tribe, not necessarily because I wanted to lose weight or even to get so much stronger. I didn’t even notice my body changes until probably six or seven months in. I was caught up in the process – the excitement of learning new movements, the thrill of hitting PRs and the joy of feeling part of a community again. When I first saw photos of myself doing an Open workout I was astounded at the muscle mass I’d gained in such a short time. Icing on the GAINZ cake!

If I just aim for the ceiling, over my head is easy, right?

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Things I never thought I’d do in a year’s time, but did

  • Rx handstand push-ups – multiple reps!
Look ma, no abmat!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kipping pull-ups 


Pistol squats

37.5” box jump

Ring dips – though one or two at most

Climb a rope

Clean over my bodyweight

Snatch over 100 pounds

Murph (no weight vest, but movements Rx)

Sub-3:00 Grace (30 clean & jerks for time)

 

Things I thought I’d get done in a year’s time, but didn’t

Double unders

F*&$ these things and the section of hell those sadistic cables come from. No, I get it – these are something I need to practice consistently, and I haven’t, and it shows. A coach told me when I started last September, “I want you to get these, because I don’t want a stupid rope stopping you from going Rx in an Open workout.” Well, March rolled around and so did 17.5 and, just as he foreshadowed, the stupid rope stopped me from going Rx in an Open workout. I learned the hard way. But don’t worry – every time I do pick up the rope, I scourge myself in punishment for my lack of practice. It’s a self-punishing movement.

 

When I first started I wish I’d had a list like this to pore over – I hope this helps someone out there who has only just begun a foray into CrossFit.

4 comments

  1. 8 years in, and 4 of them as a coach – those are some seriously impressive 1 year numbers! Well done! What was your athletic bkgrd before CF?

    1. Hi, thanks so much! I played travel volleyball in high school. Kept up in general shape during college and after. Got into free weights and some powerlifting at a globo-gym for a year or two before I had my two kids. CrossFit has been my perfect storm of competition, lifting heavy and intensity. Can’t wait to see where the next year takes me – and I’d love to coach eventually, too!

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