I Tried It: I Conquered My Fears & Did a Month of CrossFit

woman flexing crossfit

Intimidating. That’s the word I would have used to describe CrossFit a month ago. My husband has been espousing the benefits of CrossFit to me since we started dating more than four years ago. I imagined CrossFit to be like something out of a military movie, with drill sergeants screaming to drop and give them 20, and people regularly pushing themselves to the point of puking. It seemed loud, aggressive, and competitive in a way I didn’t think I’d find appealing at all. And my upper body strength being less than formidable made it all the more overwhelming. Positive I would hate it, I resisted his attempts to rope me in. 

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I had generally accepted my body and exercise regimen as being healthy enough -- I run and do yoga four to five times a week and have good flexibility and cardiovascular capacity. What did I need upper body strength for, after all? Then, last year, I had a rude awakening at a doctor’s visit. My doctor was trying to get blood for some routine tests, and after a few tries, she couldn’t seem to find my vein. This wasn’t the first time a doctor had trouble finding my veins, but it was the first time the struggle came with a recommendation.

"You should really develop your upper body muscles more," she scolded gently. "It will help your circulation." 

There it was: I had a medical reason to go lift some weights. I procrastinated a bit more, trying to do push-ups and planks at home, but I found myself to be undisciplined. Running out of excuses, I decided to give CrossFit a try (much to my husband’s delight).

On my first day, I walked past muscular bodies as they lifted enormous barbells and let them fall to the floor, making the ground shake in an alarming way. They looked like sweaty Greek gods. I wasn’t too surprised, because I live with a sweaty, CrossFit-loving Greek god myself. But to join them in their Mount Olympus was intimidating, to say the least. Before I had even started, I was ready to chalk up my first visit as a failed experiment and move on.

But as the first class went on, something weird started to happen. I actually didn’t hate it. The coaches were kind and encouraging. When I was sure they’d laugh or balk at my inability to lift heavy weights or do a pull-up, they gave me constructive suggestions to adapt the exercises so I could handle them and grow stronger. I never once felt judged.

The other CrossFitters were friendly and supportive as well, cheering each other on to do their best. It was totally different from the hyper-competitive, aggressive environment I had imagined. In fact, the gym had a much stronger sense of community than any yoga class or runners group I had been a part of.

I was proud of my body as it started doing things I never thought it would be able to do. By the end of a month, I was comfortably lifting 60-pound barbells above my head, jumping up onto boxes that were 20+ inches tall, and doing pull-ups with an assistance band. The exercises that had seemed scary and impossible at first became more and more fun as I began to master them. 

I went back to the same doctor when I was a few weeks into my CrossFit experiment. When it came time to draw blood, I cringed. She tightened the tourniquet and tapped on the inside of elbow for a few seconds. "Having trouble finding the veins?" I asked apologetically.

"Nope, there are two good ones right here," she replied. "Just trying to decide which is juicier." I relaxed as her needle successfully probed the right spot. 

Now I have a new word to describe CrossFit: empowering.

 

 Image via dima_sidelnikov/Shutterstock

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