I used to teach a graduate course in education technology and a teacher once compared the fear and skepticism of learning to use technology to crossing over a line.
It’s like there is an invisible line you are afraid to cross over, but once you take that step and are over the line it’s not so scary any more.”
And so it goes with trying anything new for the first time-you only imagine you know what to expect, and most of the time your imagination creates an experience that is much grander and scarier than it actually is.
This week I tried my first Cross Fit class ever, and my mind had definitely imagined something out of The Crossfit Games. First, understand the evolution of my thinking: 7 years ago I worked one on one with a personal trainer who handed me my dumbbells and expected me to do what I was told without asking how many, how much or how heavy. Just show up and do the work. He shared his thoughts on Cross Fit-and he felt most Cross Fit gyms or “boxes” were not run by qualified fitness professionals and thus many cross-fitters were at risk for getting hurt. Under his guidance I learned to deadlift, work with kettlebells, and I learned to run- running more than 100 races in 4 years, including 7 half marathons and a 25K trail race.
I moved on to a different type of gym where I was in semi private small group sessions with minimal coaching, with an emphasis on mobility and barbells-including Olympic lift progressions. It felt like what I imagined a Cross Fit gym might look like, but I was assured it was not cross fit. I learned some cross fit type movements, but in a learning environment. I continued to deadlift, benchpress and squat. And I continued to run. I became more independent and a little more confident, but I still needed guidance to make sure I didn’t over train. I started paying attention to Olympic lifting and cross fit movements. I started wondering why I ever thought cross fit was so bad?
If you have followed my blog posts you know I am not a fan of group training. I am not a fan of groups. I have spent many days recovering from over use injury from boot camps spent competing with 20 year olds and men. So when I joined Great Bay Cross Fit I stuck to what I felt comfortable with- semi private small group training. My first month felt different, but comfortable enough that I knew I could learn and continue getting stronger if I stuck with it. I had to relearn a couple lifts and moves, with much more emphasis on form and technique, but it felt good to be lifting and moving again with energy and excitement. So when the coaches started encouraging me to try a cross fit class I was curious but skeptical.
First I wondered how I would ever fit it into my 6 day a week workout schedule. I started paying attention to the WOD’s every week to see if I could even do the moves, and if I could, how would I schedule it around my lifting and running days? I started to imagine how much more conditioned I could become if I actually joined 1 or 2 cross fit classes a week in addition to my running. Maybe I could cut my running down to 3 days a week with 2 long runs a month? Instead of being locked into my schedule and routine I decided to give it a try.
This week I tried my first cross fit WOD ever. I chose a conditioning workout with familiar moves (except for the burpees which I had just learned the previous week). I performed a combination of kettle bell swings, burpees and airsquats for AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) in 18 minutes. It was a little intimidating, but I chose something I was familiar with so that the movement wasn’t an issue. It was all about pacing and breathing. It was not about competing. I wanted to see how I felt after class, the next day and the day after that. Considering I had completed a 7 mile run the day before the workout, I felt tired but pretty good! I was able to do my squat workout the following day, and then run again the day after that. I was no more tired than if I had gone for a long-ish run.
Looking back, cross fit felt scary because I was not really mentally ready to give something new a try. Last year was a year filled with mistrust and doubt which led to low self esteem. Maybe I was being too much of a follower and not following my passion. Change is good, but not for the sake of change. Too much change can lead to lack of focus, clarity, and diminishing self-esteem. Imagine trying to start over and re-learn how you do everything at the gym? Imagine you no longer are doing all things you are good at, but instead, you are now focusing on learning-so you suck at everything?
It feels good to be doing what I am good at, while learning new moves and trying new things that will help me get stronger and improve my conditioning. I am going to try adding a cross fit class into my schedule every now and then if it works, and just keep learning. I am allowing myself to be a little more experimental to see what happens. If it doesn’t work for me that is ok. Now I know what does work and if I don’t do it at the gym I can do it at home. There are no hard and fast rules except the rules I impose upon myself.