. . .and why you should try it too!
A guest post from Alise Knickerbocker
Growing up, the majority of my free time was consumed by sports. I started swimming competitively when I was five years old. I played softball for eight years. I attempted basketball for a season, which was a wash unless I was shooting from the foul line. Track in eighth grade, followed by field hockey for four years in high school. I even picked up tennis my junior year of college and played for my school’s division 3 team for two years. At some point during college I decided to start running, and I decided to try some 5k races, which eventually led to a triathlon. When it comes down to it, I was always active–as if athletics was a part of my DNA. However, I was never really excellent at anything.
This morning at CrossFit, I completed my first workout as prescribed, which means that I did the workout exactly as the CrossFit Gods deemed necessary without scaling anything down. With this milestone came an interesting revelation: for the first time in my life, I am competing against myself. All of those years of sports, I measured my success based on others. Whether I was comparing myself to my teammates or my opponents, I wasn’t happy unless I was “good.” What this led to was being nothing but mediocre. I was a great swimmer; only until I switched swim teams and felt defeated because I was no longer one of the best. I started to accept excuses as to why I never improved.
I first started CrossFit in July of 2015 after I received an email that CrossFit Zenith was running a teacher appreciation special. I dragged my husband to a class at 9am on a Saturday, and I was nervous as all hell. From what I knew of CrossFit, it was all flipping tires and doing crazy things that I could never do. However, I had two kids under the age of three, and I was looking for something to finally help me get back my body. Since that first class, I have completed over 100 workouts at CrossFit Zenith, having to take off some time to give birth to my third baby about 7 months ago. This is what I’ve learned since then:
- CrossFit is for everyone. When I scan the gym during a workout, I see all types of people. I am the mom of three young kids with a full time job ready to lose my mind most days. There’s the girl who worked third shift but still managed to make it to a morning class before going to bed. There’s the guy who just managed to get out of the house because his wife’s morning sickness happened to have subsided that morning. There’s the woman who drove 30 minutes from home for a 5:30 a.m. class because that’s what fits into her schedule. There are the people who just start out and have to scale or modify almost every movement. Then, there are those that embody the image of CrossFit–doing everything you wish you could. What amazes me about CrossFit is that all of these people come together with a common goal–to push themselves.
- We are a family. After being a member of a variety of gyms, something that struck me about CrossFit Zenith is that we are a family. We know each other and care about what goes on in each other’s lives. People were happy to see me when I came back after nine months and remembered the names of my children. We laugh together and cheer each other on, and everyone gets a high five or a fist bump at the end of the workout.
- You don’t have to apologize. In the past, whenever I couldn’t perform a certain way (win a swim event, run at a certain pace, win a match, make a basket…) I would apologize. Whether it was to myself or to my team, I felt like I had failed. Even now, when a new person starts at Zenith, I often hear apologies for not working fast enough or with enough weight. It doesn’t matter! Sure, there are people there that do things faster, or with higher weights, but everyone starts somewhere! Everything can be scaled or modified, and everyone is working their hardest.
- You are competing against yourself. One of the things I love the most about CrossFit is that I can see my progress. Just this morning, I completed a shoulder press with 74 pounds. In October, I was only able to complete it with 67 pounds. A week ago, I completed a workout that I had also completed in September (just after coming back from my “maternity leave”). You know what? It took me 2 minutes longer last week, BUT I had 20 more pounds on the bar! I am no longer working for anyone else–I am in it for myself! Before, if I was on the elliptical for 45 minutes, chances are I was still on the elliptical for 45 minutes months later. I’ve also noticed that my priorities have changed. My entire life I wanted to be thin, but now I’m finding that my focus has shifted to wanting to be strong, which is a lot easier to explain to my children.
- No one knows how you’re doing but you. One of the best things about CrossFit is that everyone is working their hardest. Sure, you might be sucking wind and struggling to swing your kettlebell by the end of the workout, but everyone else is pushing themselves with weights that are challenging for them. If you didn’t lift as much weight as you normally do one day, no one knows but you. However, your gym family is there to push you through when you’re tired, or give you motivation when you feel like giving up.
I didn’t intend for this to become as long-winded as it has, but I truly have so much love for CrossFit and the community that I’ve joined. Had I not made that leap to just try it out–I would probably still be plugging away on the elliptical, which let’s be honest, is pretty boring.
If you’re ready to join Alise and all the other amazing people at CrossFit Zenith, visit http://www.fitwallingford.com/intro