Crossfit used to be a fairly unpopular word in our house. Quite a few years ago the husband had joined the newly opened local Crossfit gym “Blitz” which happened to be about two minutes walk from our house. We had small children, I did exercise DVDs as and when I could. I had zero interest in joining Crossfit and actually sometimes I called him a “Crossfit bore” for talking about Crossfit so much and (this is actually pretty hilarious now) got annoyed at him if he couldn’t get into the 6am class and had to go at 5:45! “That is ridiculously early!!”, I’d complain.
Every now and then he would suggest again that I should try it. “You’ll meet new people” he’d say. But I didn’t want to meet new people. I was perfectly content exercising by myself in our tiny front room (with Shaun T) and even though my fitness had gone a bit downhill post turning 40 I was still moving wasn’t I? “Besides”, I’d say “I don’t have any active wear.” (This was true. I exercised in an old vest top and my underpants. I couldn’t possibly go to Crossfit.)
And then something changed. My beloved Dad passed away and we found ourselves very suddenly at the airport and very painfully back in Australia. After his funeral I flew back with the girls and the husband flew to the US for a week for work. I spent a pretty grim and bleak week half heartedly trying to work and be a mother but feeling empty, exhausted and soul destroyed. When the husband returned home he said he had booked me into a Crossfit class (actually it was a Sweat class which is like Crossfit without the barbells). I could no longer say I had no active wear as (very cunningly) he had bought me some in Australia (we had left so quickly we took practically nothing so on 5 occasions went to our local “Cotton On” shop for clothing supplies. They got to know us quite well).
So at 8am one Saturday in early June 2018 I found myself (in spite of all my protestations) at my local Crossfit gym feeling nervous, self conscious and more than a bit fragile. When the instructor (it was the lovely Holly) announced that it was to be “TEAMS OF 4”, I was filled with horror and stood near the door thinking that no one would really notice if I slipped out and went home. Then I turned and saw three friendly girls standing nearby who asked me if I wanted to be in their team. “Yes”I heard myself say.
“Yes,” I said when I came home.
I could talk a lot about how in many respects at that time, Crossfit saved me. It gave me an outlet for a lot of pent up emotion, it distracted me from my own grief and gave me the company of people when I didn’t think I needed it. But as time went on (and I slowly increased my membership from twice a week to 3 to 5 to unlimited), I realised that my Crossfit journey was no longer about healing. I really really love/d it.
What do I love? I love that slowly over time I have got stronger than I ever thought was possible. I love that at 47 I am also fitter than I have ever been (except possibly in my mid-teen karate days). I love that workouts that previously sounded like something only a super hero could do, I can actually complete (or do a version of!). I love that I have met people outside of work and the girls’ school who I bond with over a shared love of fitness and have conversations with about what weight we are going to use (often knowing the person well enough to know the answer). I love having something to focus on that doesn’t define me (as an age bracket, as a mother, as my job ) in any way other than what I am willing and capable of doing at that moment, and that my Crossfit friendships are similarly not defined. I love the random banter and hilarity that often comes with the 5:45am class (of which I am a very committed member, I told you it was funny!). I love that I have done two Crossfit Opens (the worldwide competition that in theory enables you to qualify for the Crossfit Games) and that a week before my 47th birthday I did a whole day inter-club Crossfit competition with a partner who was nearly half my age (not that it was ever discussed!) and that not only did I not totally embarrass myself on any of those occasions but in all three I did something I was never previously capable of (a strict handstand pushup, a 30kg snatch, a clean and jerk of 43kg!) and sometimes have never done since.
I am far from being a very capable Crossfitter in the way that many people at our gym are. I despair of ever doing double unders properly, could do rope climbs vaguely well one day and then suddenly couldn’t the next, and will probably never do anything with “muscle up” in the name. But somehow I have become someone who doesn’t get scared when the workout says “Teams of 4” (welcomes it even!) and who might be seen running out the door with others holding kettlebells.
And that’s what I know about Crossfit!! And one other thing. No one cares about how you look.