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A Beginner’s Perspective

By August 31, 2015 September 28th, 2017 Andrea's Articles, Community
The new Beginners’ CrossFit class kicks off this week at Hotova CrossFit and we couldn’t be more excited!  Are you still trying to figure out exactly what CrossFit is?  Or do you just need a boost to get into the box?  Each of our athletes takes a different path, which is the wonderful thing about CrossFit; We like to say it”fits everyone and everyone gets fit”–which is true– but there is no one-size-fits-all approach to CrossFit.  The training is as individualized as the motivation that brings us together.  Here is my beginner story:
I was never an athlete.
The oldest child of two active parents, I rode my bike around the neighborhood and took swimming lessons.  I played basketball and baseball through community education programs where my dad was my coach, but I was afraid of the ball– any ball– and spent most of my game-time energy trying to steer clear of the action.  Continuing on into junior high and high school, I joined the swim team, again at my parents’ encouragement.  I loved being in the water and enjoyed the camaraderie with my teammates, but, though I tried, I was not a strong swimmer; the coach had a harsh approach and dismissed me as a non-contributor.
Through college and my early adult years, I exercised only enough to offset my caloric intake from pizza and alcohol.  I walked or rode my bike (when it was convenient) and I kept a gym membership, but I by no means had a fitness routine.  I felt I was blessed with good genes– my parents and siblings are all in good physical condition– and I just didn’t worry much about working out.  While completing my undergraduate degree, I performed in a number of musical theater productions.  I found I was extremely short-of-breath, and, after seeing a specialist, I was diagnosed with exercise-induced asthma.  I believed this explained a lot about why I had never been good at sports, and I used it as further rationalization to not break a sweat.
Meantime, I married a runner.  Now, he will tell you when we began dating, I would go running, too, but I can assure you that is FALSE.  He is remembering what he wants to be true.  I hate to run.  It remains my least favorite mode of transportation.  I had a demanding career and preferred to spend my downtime reading novels.  A shopping trip was exercise enough for me.  Throughout this time, I had a pretty positive self-image.  While I was never going to be super-model thin, I was of average height and weight, my clothes fit, and I pretty much ate what I wanted.
Then, in my thirties, I had babies.  I had four babies, to be exact, in seven years.  With my first pregnancy, I gained 40 pounds.  I had only lost about 20 pounds when, six months after the birth of the first, I got pregnant again.  I was now a stay-at-home mom, emphasis on the MOM.  That began the era of my new philosophy: Well, I’m Just Going to Get Pregnant Again, So Why Bother to Try to Lose the Weight?  During these years, my husband had also put on some pounds, or “sympathy weight,” as I think it’s called.  He decided to go on a radical diet and exercise program, where he soon dropped about 30 pounds.  Overachiever.  He has always been more disciplined than I.
I was in a fog of nursing and diaper-changing and boo-boo-kissing and house-building and chores and errands and just-making-it-through-each-day.  Have you lived this?  At some point, we must have decided our family was complete.  My husband changed jobs a couple times.  We got a dog.  Everything about me was fuller.  Frankly, I still didn’t feel too bad.  My body had done battle and performed miracles.  My clothes still fit, especially the elastic-y ones… just a little more tightly.
Then, in the blink of an eye, Number Four went to kindergarten.
And I turned 40.
True story.
I did what I lot of mommies do, and I pledged to have a cleaner house and healthier meals and all that jazz.  I also promised myself I would go to the gym more.  Me time?  Well, it wasn’t my first choice, but I did do it, with dedicated regularity.  I scanned my key fob, hopped on the elliptical machine, followed up with a circuit on the weight machines and ended with a bunch of situps or maybe a little planking action.  Then I left, stopping at the convenience store for my daily 44-ounce Diet Mountain Dew.
In terms of getting in shape and dropping that extra 15-20 pounds, well, it just didn’t happen.  I lost a few pounds, and I bought more expensive jeans, so I did look a little better.  Observant friends commented.  Yet, considering I was hardly breaking a sweat, and was then going home and plowing through the snacks in the pantry, I should not have been surprised the change was not dramatic.  This was my reality and I was somewhat resigned to it.
Around Christmastime last year, some friends started telling my husband and me about a new gym that had opened near our home.  They were some of the first members, and they were trying to drum up interest.  I had never heard of CrossFit.  I didn’t really want to go.  Our friends said it was challenging, interesting, FUN.  They said we couldtry for freefor a week.  We consented to check it out.
On that cold night, my husband and I were warmly greeted at the door by both of Hotova CrossFit’s owner-coaches.  Dean and Giane were fit and gorgeous.  Yet, they were so friendly, they made it impossible to hate them.  And they were real.
I laughed all the way through the first class.  Well, that is, when I wasn’t trying to catch my breath.  As I say with many things in life, “If I wasn’t laughing, I’d be crying.”  It was hard.  I was surprised at what my body could do, as well as what it could not do.  Though I thought to myself, “You little punk– I could be your mother,” Giane and Dean were actually like the best kind of parents, firm but encouraging.
At the end of the first workout, they warned us we would be sore.  They told us the best thing to do was to keep moving.  To stretch.  To come back.  The next day, my body was screaming and I was screaming, “Who put all these stairs in my house?!”
I didn’t go back for a week.  But I did go back.
My husband and I signed on for a couples’ membership, and our 12- and 13-year-old daughters sometimes work out at Hotova CrossFit, too.  I work out, religiously, five days a week, and I have for the past eight months.  Even when we took a family vacation in the spring, we did WODs (Workouts of the Day.)  Most of my workouts are scaled.  It was months before I completed my first Rx workout.  I am OK with that.
I struggle with anything that is cardio-based, such as running and rowing and riding the Airdyne bike.  It took about three months before I could climb the rope. I still can’t do a kipping pullup or an unmodified pushup.  I don’t have plans to ever do double-unders with a jump rope or swing into a muscle-up on the rings.
I surprised myself by crossing the monkey bars the first time I tried.  After beginning with a 10-pound medicine ball for wall balls, I moved to 12 pounds, and now I throw a 14-pound ball.  I swing a 35-pound kettle bell; last year at this time, I would have guessed a kettle bell was a kitchen tool.  The first time I completed all the squats in the “Sally” song, I was so excited I called my husband.  I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I no longer completely HATE burpees.  I know what back squats are, and they are my favorites.
I ran a mile.
Now, in all honesty, I do not LOVE CrossFit.  I’m sorry, but it’s true.  I would still rather be sitting on the beach in a lounge chair, reading my book.  But I do this for myself, and for my husband and for my kids.  I want to be an example to them and I want to keep up with them.
CrossFit has been a lifestyle change for our family.  We try hard to not be those annoying people who talk about CrossFit all the time.  We fail.  We love our coaches and we enjoy our fellow athletes.
The box is a supportive environment.  It really is a community.  Every person comes in with a story– maybe it’s like mine and maybe it’s nothing like mine.  But we are all there with a singular mission: self-improvement.  You will build endurance and strength, and you will feel better.
I, personally, have not had a major physical transformation, but I am transformed.  The only dietary change I have made is– a huge one for me– I quit drinking diet soda.  I have more energy during the day.  I have all but stopped using my asthma inhaler; I keep it nearby, but I just don’t seem to need it.  I do more and I feel better.  Oh, and the undersides of my arms can’t do that flappy thing anymore.  When the grocery store clerk asks if I need help loading the water softener salt, I think, “Boy, I can dead lift more than you can!” But I don’t say that.  I just smile and say, “No, thanks, I’ve got this.”
You’ve got this.
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This is my favorie photo of me working out.  I love it because you can’t see my sweaty face and my uncomfortable expression.
But I encourage you to give Hotova CrossFit a try.  Get sweaty.  Get uncomfortable.  Surprise yourself.
I cannot wrap up without a response to the most commonly asked CrossFit question.  Actually, it’s not a question but a statement: “CrossFit is dangerous.  You can get HURT!”  Youcanget hurt working out– just ask my husband, the runner, or my friend who plays on a women’s hockey team.  People get injured doing CrossFit, too.  We are human and mistakes happen.  I can honestly say, however, that in eight months of regular workouts, my CrossFit “injuries” have been limited to ripped hand calluses (from gripping bars) and a couple whacks in the chin (from medicine balls and barbells.)  The latter is definitely due to my God-given lack of grace.  The former happens to everyone.
We work out under the direct supervision of watchful, careful, trained coaches.  They will tell you if you are pushing yourself too hard; they will tell you if it seems you are not working hard enough.  They will advise you on stretching and sleep and diet.  Having a membership is like hiring the best kind of personal trainers.  They provide one-on-one attention in a competitive, social atmosphere.  Oh, and it’s cheaper than hiring a trainer, too.
When I was beginning my CrossFit training (and I still consider myself a beginner, by the way) I rationalized, “It’s only an hour.”  That remains one of my favorite things about CrossFit: ONE HOUR A DAY.  From stretching to the practice or drill to the WOD and back to stretching again.One and done.I challenge others on different fitness programs to put in just an hour a day and to get out the kinds of results we are all seeing at Hotova CrossFit.
Do not be intimidated.  In each of our classes, you may find someone with significant CrossFit experience.  There may be one or two who served in the military.  You may meet a college athlete or a
professional trainer who looks like he can run circles around the rest.  But you will also see people considerably older or considerably younger than you.  Some have weight to lose.  All are hot and breathing hard, just as I am.  Just as you will be.  And we are all there with the same goal, and we all achieve it every day: We do it.
You can do it, too.