Two months ago, I made a public commitment to getting into shape, so that I’m stronger at 40 (10 May 2011) than I was at 20. One month ago, I joined CrossFit New England. After a month, it seems like a good time for a bit of reflection on this journey.
First things first: I have blisters and callouses on my hands! A lot of people might view this as a bad thing, something to be avoided. I view it as a return to a different time in my life, a time in my life when I played on monkey bars and jungle gyms, when I could climb trees and not feel it the next day. This, perhaps more than anything, tells me that what I’m doing is good.
Next: I have run a mile two times now. For those of you who know me in person, you will understand the significance of this. My motto for years has been: I will run when someone chases me. Well, the person who is chasing me happens to be (with apologies to Dickens) the Ghost of Megan Future and I’m gaining on her, slowly.
Also: I am close to being able to do a real pullup. My goal for the month is to be able to do one, although I’d be even happier if I could do 2 or 3 in a row. When I watch all the other folks at the gym doing pullups I get a little bit jealous, but that jealousy motivates me to keep on trying, keep on trying.
More: I had no idea I could push myself this hard. Turns out that despite what I believed for years about how I “do” fitness (i.e. solo, self-directed), I was wrong. The way I took to hockey should have clued me in, and if that didn’t, the fact that I started playing indoor soccer last winter should have. But apparently neither of those things registered, and the other day I had this moment of thinking, “Holy crap! I LIKE to work out in a group, to cheer for other people, and to have them cheer me on, push me, tell me I do just one more.” Go figure.
And: I couldn’t have done any of this in a non-CrossFit setting. I’ve worked out before and know that when I do, I get into certain routines. With a routine, it’s easy to remember what to do, to not have to think about it. Of course, routine is a real buzzkill and what’s more, it is boring (thus decreasing the likelihood that I’ll keep it up). What I like about CrossFit is that I don’t have to decide what my workout is. I show up, the workout is on the whiteboard. Some of them look killer (and are), while some look easy (lies and deception, every time I think that). But the fact is, it’s easy for me to remember what to do at CrossFit without a routine, simply because someone else is thinking about what we’re going to do each day on everyone else’s behalf. The prescribed workouts may seem limiting, but for me, they’re totally freeing.
Finally: CrossFit really is a supportive community. I’ve met a lot of new people, the sorts of people I don’t see in my everyday life. First off, there are a lot of guys who work out there. I don’t spend a lot of time with men, working at a women’s college with well over half the employees in my division being women. Second off, I suspect that a large number of the people who work out there don’t share my educational level, sexuality, political leanings, and/or worldview. And you know what? It doesn’t matter, because what we’re all doing there is getting stronger, faster, and fitter. That’s the thing that unites us. And in the meantime, I just might expand my horizons a bit.
So you may be wondering: Has Megan drunk the CrossFit Kool-Aid? Well, I have, but not all of it quite yet. I’m a skeptic by nature, and there are parts of the CF philosophy that I’m still struggling with, particularly those parts around fuel for the body. I feel a need to do more research, to find evidence and data that the way many CrossFitters eat is rational when some of it is counter to what I’ve learned in the past. And really, I can only make so many changes in my life at once. Adding in 4-5 trips to the gym each week (from ZERO) is a lot to get used to. Try me in another couple of months and maybe I’ll have found my evidence and data, changed some more things about my life. And maybe not. But in a couple of months, I can tell you, I will still be going to CFNE and loving the way I feel.