CrossFit might be one of the most debated fitness modalities on the internet: is it healthy? Is it sustainable? Is it safe? Is it too intense?
It took me months to try CrossFit and weeks to get hooked. CrossFit was the community and team I didn’t realize I was missing. And then I stopped CrossFit all together.
I spent most of my life working out. I was a swimmer from age 8 until I graduated college at 22. I spent hours on my craft, hours in the cold pool at 6am, and hours sitting in beach chairs on humid pool decks. Despite the physical workout, I also spent hours obsessing over what to put into my body as fuel and hours trying to optimize my nutrition. Not to mention I was ALWAYS hungry.
After college I went through a very typical post-athletic identity crisis; Who was I without swimming? How much time did I actually want to spend exercising? I decided that I wanted to mix it up and be on my own schedule for a change. I joined a regular LA Fitness gym for a few years, spending most of my time on the elliptical, not really thriving or knowing my way around the gym. I got bored really quickly.
I later spent a few years traveling around the world, living in New Zealand and backpacking around Europe and South America. I loved travel and did not miss the intensity of swimming or the rigid schedule. I had been so conditioned to follow my coaches training regime and to eat well and to always put swimming first. It felt so good to break free from the athletic constraints.
I didn’t miss working out at all, but I did noticed that my body had changed a lot since my athletic days. I didn’t feel confident, I wanted to get back into shape so I began running and immediately injured my achilles. Whoops! Who knew running was so technical?
Friends of mine were getting into CrossFit. In fact, it was ALL they talked about. Their conversations circled between the WOD, their personal records, mastering new movements, looking like literal fitness models, and so on. It seemed like they were CONSUMED by CrossFit. I found it obnoxious at first. It seemed too intense, too life-consuming, too much. I had no interest in having athletics rule my life again.
Somehow, with much persuasion from my friends and a desire to get fit, I tried a CrossFit class. My first WOD? Karen- 150 wall balls for time and a 200 meter run whenever you took a break. I have never been so sore in my life, it took me days to recover. (This would be a trend that continued in my time as a CrossFit “athlete,” the never ending soreness).
It ignited something inside me. It made hungry to improve, to get fit, to keep going. Not to mention I became enamored with the community aspect of the gym. There were social events, happy hours, a book club, cool apparel, and a sense of comaraderie that mirrored my swim team days.
I literally sold my soul to CrossFit after one week, buying the Nike CrossFit shoes, the Metcons, a jumprope, wrist wraps, and pull-up grips. I felt like I found a home at the gym.
Fast forward 2 years. CrossFit had given me such an appreciation for fitness. I had thrown myself on the ground, got myself back up, mastered butterfly pull-ups, hand stand push ups, improved my strength and overall fitness. And then something changed. I moved across the country from the suburbs of Connecticut to Denver. I joined a new gym, a new community, and to my surprise, began to question my involvement in CrossFit for the foreseeable future.
A big obstacle was the price of a CrossFit membership. CrossFit is not cheap. I struggled to continue to justify the nearly $200 per month I was spending, not to mention the gear, like, did I really need 3 pairs of CrossFit sneakers?
Another interesting thing that happened was my body started telling me that it didn’t want to lift anymore. I tried to ignore it and I started lifting lighter, skipping the heavy deadlift and squat days, or skipping the gym in general. My once CrossFit-obsessed persona was no longer. What happened?
I want to highlight why I think it is so healthy to try new things that scare you, and then to change your mind and try something else.
I had preconceived notions about what CrossFit was at first. I assumed I would hate it right away. I was surprised by how much I let it consume my life, to the point that I ended up in the ER one night after 18.2 of the CrossFit open workouts. I slipped off of the pull-up bar due to fatigue, landing on my tailbone and fracturing my hip.
My CrossFit world came crashing down. I started to re-evaluate everything about CrossFit. Why had I pushed myself to such lengths and to the point of total exhaustion. I was so hungry, so competitive, that I had not been looking out for myself. To be frank. this is more of a “me” problem than a CrossFit problem, but not at all an uncommon reaction to the level of intensity required to remain competitive in the gym.
So, long blog post short to say, I quit Crossfit and I do miss it here and there. I miss the sense of community but I do not miss the body fatigue. *I really don’t* I don’t miss the soreness, the nauseous feeling that comes from the high intensity workout, the intense competition and hunger, never feeling satisfied with your accomplishments, always striving to get stronger, better, & fitter.
I think my body appreciates this too. I realized this: Listening to your body should be your number one motivator. Listening to yourself, tuning into whatever feels right is the MOST important way you can live your life. If you are doing something because it’s, “trendy,” or because all of your friends are, or because you like how it makes you look, how is that ever going to fulfill your soul? You are the number one priority. If your body is telling you something, girl, boy, other, you better listen up.