A few weekends ago I participated in Crossfit for Hope at Crossfit Simple. This was a fundraiser for St. Jude’s Research Hospital and I was happy to support a good cause.
I was not happy to be working out in a gym full of people as I still have a lot of garbage in my head that is tough to shut up. The Naysayer has yet to be completely quelled and sometimes that bitch is loud and annoying. Also, she is not particularly nice to me.
Will and I work out with a personal trainer three times a week. While there are other people working out at the same time, and occasionally we do the same WoD’s, for the most part it is just Will and I with our trainer doing various things. Crossfit is not glamorous. I sweat, I strain, I sometimes work to not pass out or throw up. I know when I leave there I feel good, but I usually do not look particularly good as my hair is falling out of my ponytail, I’ve sweat through my clothes, etc. With Will, I do not feel shame or embarrassment when I am sweating and making horrible faces – this man thinks I am completely irresistible whether I am dressed to the nines or if I am in stained sweats with my hair askew. There have been times when I’ve been sick with the flu, just crawled out of bed, and look awful where he hugs me and tells me how pretty I am. I am always baffled, but at least this insanity of his works in my favor.
With our trainer, I am not self conscious about that kind of thing any more because after working out with him for over a year I just kind of got over it. It helps that he has a way of making you feel comfortable, is really encouraging, and cares about proper form so we do not injure ourselves. I doubt he cares about my ill-fitting clothes or sweaty face.
With all of that said, I am very aware that even after a year of working out there and with 50 pounds lost, I am probably the heaviest person at the gym, or at least the heaviest person I have seen working out there on a regular basis. Over the past year, I have seen a couple of people who are heavier than I am from time to time, and I am always so happy to see them – I want to hug them and tell them that Crossfit will change their life and bring them joy, but by the time I get over my social anxiety/awkwardness, they seem to have disappeared. Also, when you are working out, the last thing you want is a crazy Crossfit Evangelist hugging you and preaching to you about how great it is. Usually you just want water and to be left alone. I always hope that they are there, working out during times I am not at the gym, but I worry that they leave feeling inadequate, or because it is too hard, or some other reason that time would help them overcome.
The men and women at Crossfit are all at different levels of fitness, but I find them all so inspiring because they do such amazing things – the sense of inspiration I feel looking at all of these incredibly fit people can easily be turned to intimidation if you flip that lens around. I keep in mind that I am a work in progress and that I am leaps and bounds ahead of where I was a year ago. I try to focus on comparing myself to me and not others, as we all have different backgrounds, skills, strengths, and ability but sometimes I do feel that insecurity, that bite of being fat.
Which was pretty much what I was feeling prior to the Crossfit for Hope workout. When I am nervous I tend to be grumpy. Poor Will had to deal with me yelling at traffic, being grumpy and nervous, and basically being unpleasant all morning prior to the workout. I have little experience with performance anxiety, as I can pretty much be told of a topic 5 minutes before I have to go speak about it in front of a large audience and be fine. I do not embarrass very easily, but I have never really been in athletics or the athletic realm. I played soccer as a child, but quit around the age of 12. I had definite performance anxiety the morning of the workout.
And it was crowded. Unbelievably crowded. I wanted to back out and go home, but one of Will’s friends from high school had pledged to donate $1 a rep for each rep I completed and another friend of mine was donating a per rep amount, too. I really believe in and support the work of St. Jude’s so I honestly felt that I couldn’t back out primarily because of that, but also because of my own self respect. Not doing something because I feel momentary insecurity is simply not acceptable as an excuse. It is a cop out. It is being a wuss. I am not going to be a wuss because I want to like me and I want to respect me. If I’d left due to irrational anxiety, I wouldn’t have liked or respected me.
The scaled workout was one minute of each of the following: Burpees, 35 pound power snatch, 12″ box jump, 35 pound thrusters, and jumping pull ups. Someone follows you and counts your reps for each exercise and writes it down. After one round, you get to rest for a minute then you do the circuit again, rest a minute, and complete a third circuit. So altogether it is a 17 minute workout, and the first group to go was very crowded. It was organized chaos.
One of the things I love about Crossfit is that you cannot maintain a feeling of self consciousness when you are actually working out. The workouts are usually too intense for those self-absorbed, petty thoughts to hold sway. Heck, the main reason you have someone following you around counting your reps for you is it is hard to even count when you are going all out with these kinds of exercises. The first round I still tried to count. I wanted to make sure I averaged a certain number of reps so that my donation pledges for St. Jude’s were good, but after the first round I gave up. I simply couldn’t keep track of what I was doing.
The self-consciousness that had plagued me all morning was gone by the third rep – and honestly, it is ridiculous that I was even worried about it. Everyone is so focused on what they are doing, that no one is really thinking about what you are doing, except for trying not to get in each other’s way. When they do notice what you are doing they shout encouragement and praise at you, or they help you get your form right to prevent injury. It is pretty easy to feel silly about my fears going into this because this gym is always so supportive, so encouraging, and so very nonjudgmental that it is a bit insane that I was worried at all.
1st – 11 burpees, 14 power snatches, 13 box jumps, 9 thrusters, 7 pullups
2nd – 12 burpess, 17 power snatches, 16 box jumps, 9 thrusters, 10 pullups
3rd – 11 burpees, 12 power snatches, 18 box jumps, 18 thrusters, 11 pullups
The third round I doubled the amount of thrusters I completed. From a different spot in the gym, our trainer saw me staring blankly at the barbell in the third round and shouted encouragement at me. I honestly do not remember what he said, and he could have even been talking to someone else and it just looked as if he was looking at me, but it helped me go all out on that round. Each round I did I got higher scores, and it usually goes the other way around.
My overall score was 187 and for those who did the #2 scaled workout, I was in overall 4th place (at least the last time I checked the scores) which made me happy. I also beat Will by 30 reps as he got 157 overall.
We stayed for the next two rounds of workouts. I wanted to see how everyone else did, and during the second round I was counting for a friend of mine going through the workout. It was awesome to see so many people go through something I just went through. To see how different people attacked the workout. It really made me feel a kinship with everyone there, because we all worked hard, we all got tired, we all sweat, we all made faces showing strain, we all did it together. I also enjoyed watching some of the trainers and the Crossfitters who are just in great shape work out because it is always so inspiring.
Really, once I can get The Naysayer to shut up, things go along just splendidly. Luckily, she can’t catch her breath to talk when I am working out.