I get really tired of all the negativity that is written about Crossfit, often it is poorly written, childlike mudslinging. My experience of Crossfit, like many, many others, is that it is an incredibly positive, life affirming and inspiring sport that makes me a better person both physically and mentally.
When I started Crossfit a year ago I was broken. Crippled daily with excruciating pain from irritable bowel syndrome; with out of control hormones, anxiety and depression. I was lonely and very, very sad. When my boyfriend and I moved to Brighton he was determined to sign up to this new style of gym he had found out about from watching a film called Every Second Counts. He came back from his intro session physically exhausted but with excitement shining from his eyes. Without the motivation to even feign interest I went back to my daily routine of work followed by solitary coffee and cake in a cafe (I changed the location each time so the staff wouldn’t judge me) convinced that I would never feel any better.
He urged me to go with him but I was scared. Horribly unfit and terrified of exercise, the thought of donning spandex and working out in front of strangers filled me with utter dread. Suffering as I was from IBS, one of my main fears was what would happen if I lost control and farted in the gym? How could I live with the humiliation? It was too much to bear. It took a month and the seed of interest, which had been planted in me that first day when my boyfriend came home all lit up like a Christmas tree, grew enough for me to give it a try. When I arrived at the ‘box’ (what Crossfitters call their gyms) I couldn’t even walk through the door, there were people swinging from bars and throwing things around…it was sweaty, grunting, full-on carnage. Before I lifted a single bar, before a single bead of sweat dripped from my brow, I was given a questionnaire to fill in and asked about my medical history, injuries, diet, and lifestyle. The things I listed; PMT, anxiety, depression, IBS, all of the problems that I had thought would never go away and would weigh me down forever, suddenly seemed a little bit smaller as the coach said confidently ‘we can help you with that.’
I started going two or three times a week and doing things that I had never in my life expected. It was hard. Really hard. I had set backs and lost my confidence at times – falling off a box jump was not my finest moment – but it was only my ego that was bruised, not my body. And then the day came when my biggest fear became a reality. Mid way through a snatch attempt I lost control of the bar and let forth a rip roaring, earth shattering fart. I could have died. The world slowed down and I was devastated, humiliated and desperate to run away. Surely I was the only woman to ever have farted in the history of Crossfit? A freak of nature? A disgusting, unladylike anomaly? At home that night I sobbed to my long suffering boyfriend that I never wanted to go back, I was too ashamed. But I did and it didn’t kill me. Pretty soon the sting of embarrassment faded and I realised that my greatest fear really hadn’t been so bad after all. Because people fart sometimes, even women.
One of my favourite things about Crossfit is that it has changed my perception of what it means to be a woman. I no longer want to be skinny and pretty. Now I strive to be strong and fierce. My goal is not to be a size 8 but to achieve my first double under or unassisted pull up. The women I revere have big bums, big thighs and big smiles.
The other thing that I love about it is the amazing community that it fosters. When we moved to a new city I fearfully asked myself ‘how do you make friends as an adult?’ The answer quickly became apparent. At Crossfit. You bond as much over missed lifts as you do over hitting PBs. You compare numbers and exchange tips. You become one another’s cheerleader and motivator. You laugh all the time. You talk about food. A lot.
Crossfit has not just been good for me but for my relationship. We work out together, we sweat together, and I never predicted we would be the kind of couple who sit on the sofa cheering on live sports but during the Crossfit games I shouted louder than him. This summer my long suffering boyfriend proposed to me on Brighton beach and three weeks later we were married. When he back squatted me on our wedding day I couldn’t have been happier.
It has not been a perfect trajectory. I struggled with a ham string injury over the summer (which originated from running three years ago) and I recently moved boxes (that’s a whole other story) but I love it. My story is not one of earth shattering proportions – Sam Briggs is safe for now – but it has been life changing for me. When I back squat 60 kilos I feel like a warrior. When I deadlift my body weight I feel invincible. When I don’t come last in a WOD (Workout of the Day) I feel like Wonder Woman. When I finally achieve that elusive double under or unassisted pull up I will set new goals and thanks to Crossfit, I know I will achieve them.
I now train at Reebok Crossfit Connect in Hove.
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