With the 2015 first CrossFit Open workout being released tonight, we know that CrossFit hashtags, lingo, and images are about to increase on social media ten-fold. As if it isn’t already overwhelming enough, right? And sometimes I feel a little embarrassed when I get I get caught up in the excitement of my tall socks and headbands and IG photos, but then I think, you know what? Someone, somewhere is being inspired to try CrossFit. Because really, that’s what this is all about. Participating in the open, I can guarantee, is more exciting for CrossFit members than any other time of the year. Who cares if you make regionals, right? This is You vs. You and each Crossfitter gets to see how much he or she improves every year. This is what it’s all about!
With the increase in athlete images about to be blasted off every media channel available on every electronic device, there will be a lot of people out in the crowd thinking to themselves, “Man. This looks like fun. But I can never do this.” Or, “Wow. They are too hardcore.” Or even “That looks crazy. They are all beasts.”
This is a typical conversation I have every few months:
Person: “I would love to do CrossFit but I don’t think I can.”
Me: “Why not?”
Person: “It’s too intense. I see that stuff on Facebook and I could never do that.”
Me: “What you see on Facebook are the elite. If not the elite, you’re seeing someone’s BEST lift for the month.”
Person: “Yeah, but I don’t think I’m in good enough shape to start.”
Me: “Most people aren’t. CrossFit gets you in shape. Those people you see were once out of shape.”
And it goes on and on, and I go on and on about how CrossFit isn’t scary and how everyone should give it a try. Sometimes I’m successful and they try it out, stick with it, and love it. And sometimes…they walk away still too scared to give it a go.
Are you one of those people? Because I need you to read this.
Tasha, one of our ambassadors, wrote this about her experience trying CrossFit and how it changed her life. Every person–young, old, fit, fat, new to exercise or Games athlete should read this post because this, my friends, is what CrossFit is REALLY like, beyond the PR images on Facebook and Instagram.
Guest Post by Tasha Parks:
I was thinking about it … I recently had to write “What does CrossFit mean to me” and then shared it with a friend. This is what I wrote her.
What CrossFit means to me:
I’ve never been an athlete, I’ve never played an organized sport, and I never exercised at all until I turned 30 (those nine weeks of boot camp in the Army don’t count, that was forced, haha).
A little background on my relationship with sports:
At the beginning of my 10th grade year, a teacher encouraged me to try out for a sport. He said it would keep me busy, give me goals, and that I’d be good at it. So I signed up for softball. I knew the girls who played on the team from the year before, and I never had a problem hitting the ball or making it to the bases when we were forced to play in PE. I went to all of the tryouts and when the list was posted on the PE teacher’s door, I was shocked and amazed that my name was on the list. Clearly she made a typo, I’m not athletic. But I went to practices and soon after … shit got real. Those girls were hustling. I quit. A few days later the news made it back to my teacher and he asked why I quit. My reply, “Because those girls take it way too serious!” He looked at me as if I had three heads and lectured me about something something that’s how it’s supposed to work something something. Honestly, I was too embarrassed and afraid to fail. I felt like I was the clumsy one who didn’t belong.
Fast forward a few years and I’m in the real world living on my own, going to work, and hanging out with friends. I’d get asked all the time if I wanted to go to the gym with them. Nope, no, nah, no thanks, no, nah, no. My classic line was, “I’ll exercise when I turn 30.” Again, looking back I was still embarrassed. I had been in gyms before and it was like Disney Land for Judgy McJudgersons. I felt like everyone was looking at my big thighs, or my big butt, or my “not matched outfit,” or my overall lack of athleticism and coordination. Or so it seemed. Bottom line, I felt like I didn’t belong.
Then I turned 30. It seemed like almost overnight weight started to gather in unattractive places, and my joints made funny noises. I was a chronic scale watcher, always hoping the number would go down. I better start working out, but what do I do? Run! That’s all I knew about fitness. So I ran and ran and ran and ran. I got nowhere fast. Literally. I wasn’t good at it. I felt like an elephant with emphysema, but I thought running was what I needed to do to. I mixed it up and ran outside and at the gym. Gym days were miserable. The Judy McJudersons were there daily. I felt like people were gawking at me when I’d finish running and had a bright red face, and how does the lady right next to me on the treadmill never ever sweat???? How is that even possible???? Then I met Coach Jeremy. He asked my about my goals and my only goal was “5k under 30 min.” He got me there, well under 30. But along the way he introduced me to weights. Big weights. I was leaving the gym and texting non-CrossFitting friends how excited I was about “thrusting a snatch” or “jerking off the rig” … I got it all wrong at first. There were so many terms, and words, and movements, and gym math. But I was having fun, and more importantly I’d leave the gym feeling empowered, strong, and confident! I decided early on that even though it hurt, even though I wasn’t good, even though I used a BLACK band for pull-ups, even though I was a little shy around all of the strong people next to me … I was going to do this, because dammit, these people are really nice and I want to get better.
Little by little running didn’t seem as important to me, and I looked forward to going back to move heavy things in ways I never thought possible. I was in classes with men and women who were doing the same things and we all pushed and motivated each other. Everyone was sweating, no one judged, and we all looked a hot mess when we were done. I felt like I belonged there. Finally! AND I was getting stronger every day! I got excited. I got stronger. I learned new skills and I made new friends who are committed as well. I’ve been a CrossFit’er for 23 months.
In that time I have gained confidence, strength, and friendships. I don’t always PR, I haven’t mastered every movement, and I still get frustrated with things. But I’m going, learning, and pushing myself. I get excited when people do well. CrossFit has become a big part of my life. Some days it’s the perfect distraction to the craziness around me. The weight doesn’t care what kind of day I’ve had. All it cares about is me lifting it. It is a place where I can be myself, and feel comfortable talking about what I love to do without getting funny looks … and be comfortable with my big butt and thighs.
Which leads me to the people.
I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to several boxes in and out of the state and I’ve found that CrossFit’ers have a common bond: we all push our bodies to the limit to better ourselves, and we push each other. This may seem strange to some people, but to us it’s normal. We support each other through the good WODs and bad. This isn’t just a “gym” to us, it’s a second home, a second family, and sometimes it’s the best part of our day.
So what CrossFit mean to me?
1) New friends – I have a diversity of new friends. I’m friends with men and women of all ages. I’m friends with trainers, dental hygienists, stay at home moms, speech therapist, teachers, shy people, outgoing people, strong people, newbies, advanced … I could go on and on. The diversity has added something special to my life.
2) Confidence – CrossFit has done amazing things for my self-confidence. I’ve almost completely lost interest in the scale. I’ve made friends with my thighs and butt. I’m more interested in improving, getting stronger, and reaching my fitness goals. I weighed myself two weeks ago and realized that this is the heaviest I’ve EVER been! This realization may have brought me to tears before, but I know that I’ve been building muscle and getting stronger, and that muscle weights more than fat. I know I’m eating well and working out regularly, and that’s all that matters.
3) I’m pretty awesome – Well, compared to the old me. Now I can lift, row, push, pull, and do so many things! I’m not the best, but I’m a better me.
4) I have a good relationship with exercise – I no longer dread the Judgy McJudgersons next to me, flipping through their Glamour magazines while on the elliptical. I love working out, and working out hard. I appreciate the positive impact it has on my mood and how it has changed me physically and mentally.