Lately I’ve had quite a few people message me inquiring about Crossfit. They want to know what it’s like, how difficult it is, if they’ll be able to manage it. Though I’m still a newbie myself, I’ve done my best to answer their questions.
But the thing is, nothing I say can really convey what Crossfit has done for me, what it’s given me, how it’s changed my life. People asking me these questions has gotten me thinking about what specifically I’ve gained since starting Crossfit almost four months ago. We all know I’m better with words/blogs, so here’s my shot at explaining what Crossfit has really given me — because it’s so much more than an exercise program.
It’s given me a family. Cliche, I know. But stick with me a minute. Four months ago, I thought I was starting an exercise program to get in shape. I knew I’d meet new people, but I figured they’d just be people I worked out with and got to know a little, mostly in passing. I don’t have that many friends living in Alexandria, and I didn’t really think I’d meet any new ones by beginning Crossfit. I realized pretty quickly I was wrong. The people at Crossfit (at Repo at least) genuinely care about you, inside and outside the box. They make an effort to get to know you, to make you feel welcome and important. But more than that, they’re there for you. And I don’t mean there for you in the sense that they’ll help you learn a new skill or lift. Yes, they’ll do that. But they’ll do so much more than that, too. They’ll let you call them sobbing when the world just isn’t on your side. They’ll let you storm out of the gym because they know you need to, but they’ll shoot you a message to check in soon after. They’ll let you be the real, raw, messy version of yourself and won’t ever for one second make you feel guilty for it. They’ll love you through every tough, frustrating, incredible moment of life. And if that’s not family, I don’t know what is.
It’s given me confidence. Those of you who know my boyfriend, Brandon, know he isn’t one to comment often on appearance. But he’s told me numerous times in the past few months that the way I carry myself has changed. Coming from him, I know it has to be true. Before starting Crossfit, I knew I was somewhat insecure about my body but I never really thought I let on to that in how I carried myself. In retrospect, I can see it. I wore loose clothing, tried to keep myself covered, sucked my stomach in. It was exhausting, honestly, always worrying about how I looked and trying to look different because I wasn’t happy with myself. Since starting Crossfit, I’ve thought so much less about what my body looks like and more about what it is capable of. I don’t spend hours wishing I looked differently. For the first time in probably my entire life, I am wholly happy with my body and its capabilities. There’s a certain peace that brings.
It’s given me muscles. One time, a few years ago, I told my mom I wanted to be toned but I didn’t want big muscles. She laughed at me. I didn’t understand it then, but I do now. You don’t get to pick and choose your muscles. You either work for them and it shows, or you don’t and it doesn’t. For me, watching my body change and begin to reflect the work I am putting in has been a pretty damn cool experience. There have been a few times that I’ve mindlessly gone to massage out a spot after class and I’ve realized I can feel a muscle I never knew existed. I’ve seen photos of myself in class and have had to do a double take because I can see muscles that have never been visible. I’m not saying this in an oh-my-gosh-look-at-me way. I still have a long way to go in building muscle. But there is something really rewarding about seeing a physical result of lifting weight you didn’t think you could lift, or doing more burpees than you ever imagined possible. It pays off.
It’s given me a safe place. Sometimes you just need to get away from the pace of everyday life. You need to have somewhere where you can focus on one thing, and one thing only. For me that place has been Repo. It’s no secret that lately I’ve had a tough few weeks with my depression and anxiety. There have been days that Repo was the only place I felt like I could breathe, where I didn’t feel like my chest was being crushed. There’s something about a hard workout that allows you to just block out your worries and frustrations. You get to be in control of how hard you work. You get to simply be. As a person who has trouble simply being, having a place where I can do that is vital.
It’s given me joy. I don’t want to say joy was missing from my life before, because that’s not true. Brandon brings me joy. My dogs bring me joy. My job brings me joy. But the joy I’ve found in Crossfit is different. I hate when words fail me, but I’m just not sure this is one that I can convey through words. There have been moments in class, dripping in sweat, struggling to breathe, music pumping in the background, where I’ve looked around and have just been overcome with emotion. I get goosebumps watching someone achieve something new. I tear up when others celebrate that victory like it’s their own. I laugh when I realize we’re all freaking crazy for finding enjoyment in having our asses handed to us. I grin when I manage something I didn’t think I was capable of. I think the type of joy Crossfit brings me is different than the joy I find elsewhere because it was so unexpected and so sudden and so consuming.
So yeah. Crossfit is a little more than an exercise program. Some days after class I stop and think, and I realize that the whole time I’ve lived in Alexandria, this place and these people have existed. It was all so close to me and I didn’t know it for so long. It was because of desperation and a little luck that I walked into Repo four months ago. That day I walked out knowing I had found my place and my people. If you’re thinking about trying Crossfit, do it. Don’t overthink it. Just go and do and be.