Soul + Sweat: One Year In

“The bottom line is that I’m sick of my own bullshit, but I am also done drowning in it. So this is it. This is the change I’ve been waiting for for nearly a year, and telling you all about it makes it real and vulnerable and scary. But more than that, it makes me feel like I am being held accountable. And that’s worked in my sobriety, so hopefully it can work here, too. So. Here’s to this journey.

I wrote those words nearly one year ago, after my first full week of Crossfit — and what a journey it has been.

Though that blog itself wasn’t quite one year ago, today marks one year since I walked through the doors of Crossfit Repo. If we’re being honest, I didn’t really have the intention of sticking around when I did so. I was intimidated by the people. I was scared of the price. I didn’t think I would be a good enough athlete. I didn’t think I could commit.

But there’s something magical about Repo. It draws you in. The people, the workouts, the atmosphere, all of it. It’s unlike anything else I have ever been part of. And despite my doubts, here I am. 365 days later, and I’ve barely looked back. The truth is that Repo entered my life and it enveloped me. It changed me, more than anything else in my life — even my sobriety.

It hasn’t all been sunshine and rainbows, but that is exactly why it has changed me. On some days, that gym is the single most challenging, infuriating, frustrating place I have ever been. Yet I still love it more than anywhere in this world.

When I think back over the past year, I can’t help but get emotional. These are just a few of the highlights, good and bad.

  1. My first class. Of course I remember this vividly. It’s where I met Corey, one of the most influential people in my life. As one of the coaches at Repo, Corey was the first person I talked to when I was considering coming in for a class. He gave me the confidence boost I need to get in the door — and to pretty much do everything else that day consisted of. I was full of self-doubt and frustration, but he was patient and encouraging. He saw something in me that day and he made that clear. He is the reason I am where I am today (even though he’ll tell me I am the reason I am where I am). His coaching and his friendship have been unwavering. He has cheered me on in my victories and helped push me through the struggles. He has seen my happy tears and my sad ones, both inside the gym and outside. The thing I love about Corey is that he doesn’t let me give up until I absolutely need to. He knows where that line is, even more so than I do. The fact that he comes off as a tough guy but is one of the sweetest, softest people I know is also something that has drawn me to him. I tell him often how much I appreciate him, but I don’t think he’ll ever fully understand what he has done for me by loving me and accepting me, the good, the bad, the ugly. The people are what make a place, and Corey is a huge part of what makes Repo what it is.
Me and Corey after a comp workout this past summer.
  1. The relationships that have been built inside the gym and developed outside of it. I don’t think I can even put the right words to this aspect of Repo, but I’ll try. Here’s how it goes: You meet people at the gym. You enjoy their company because they’re kind or they’re funny. You don’t really know their story, but you know they have one. You don’t necessarily learn their story by solely being at the gym. You learn their story by investing time into the relationship. You speak to them outside the gym, and you learn what it is that got them to where they are — what they’ve battled, who they’ve loved, what unexpected turns life has thrown at them. Then the person they are at the gym begins to make more sense. The pieces fall into place because you now know what has made them who they are. And then you love them even more than you did to begin with. And those people and that love make your heart want to burst sometimes. That’s really the best way I can describe it. And even that doesn’t do it justice.    
Amanda, one of those people I love more with each day that passes, in and out of the gym.
  1. The first workout that made me cry. This was the first workout of the Crossfit Open, after I’d been in Crossfit about three months. I was in a bad place mentally, really struggling with my anxiety and depression. I had just gone back on my medication and could barely eat, which didn’t help when it came to working out. But somehow I did the workout. Then I basically collapsed and just about lost it. It wasn’t even the workout itself, it was just everything. The way I was feeling mentally, the energy, the need for food, the amount of people — all of it just got to me. It was one of the most exhilarating workouts I’ve ever had, but also one of the most difficult. The tears were almost a necessary part of it at the end, like an extension of the workout. I needed that release. (Also, it definitely hasn’t been the only workout to make me cry).
Immediately after finishing the first workout of the Open
  1. The complete failures and later successes, a.k.a. learning pull-ups. I have had such a love-hate relationship with pull-ups over the past year. Prior to Crossfit, I had never done a single pull-up in my life. So learning that they were a common movement in Crossfit was scary. Truly, I didn’t think I’d ever get them. Then, in one of the Open workouts, the scaled movement was pull-ups. I practiced a little beforehand, with no luck. The workout came around and I got to the point of the pull-ups with eight minutes left. Eight minutes to focus on getting a damn pull-up is a long ass time. I tried and tried. And I failed. I was upset, but that experience made me hellbent on getting pull-ups. I focused on them too much after that. I burnt myself out, which was a learning experience in itself. I took a break. I came back to them and gradually began to string them together. I’ve learned more about patience and timing from pull-ups than I have from any other movement in Crossfit, especially when it comes to the need to step back and take a break. I’m not always good at that, but I’m realizing it’s necessary.  
My first pull-up attempts during the Open.
  1. Learning the hard way that attitude plays a huge role. Attitude was so hard for me. It still is some days. There was a point in the past year when I was just burnt out. I had a bad attitude at the gym, about the gym, about the people at the gym. I was stuck in a funk and I couldn’t fix it. Instead, I just kept pushing it. Eventually, one of my best friends brought it up and I didn’t have the option to ignore it. Everything in me bristled at that conversation and my defensive nature wanted to take over. I wanted to be pissed at her for telling it like it was. But I knew she would see right through that because she knows me. And I also knew she was right. Admitting when your behavior has been out of line is never enjoyable, but in this case it was necessary. I needed that outside perspective to bring me back to reality. I needed to be reminded of why I loved Repo and what it had given me. Since that day, I’ve been trying much harder to be what I loved about Repo when I started, meaning being encouraging and welcoming and kind. And yeah, some days that is more difficult than others. But overall, it’s good for me. It’s good to cheer other people on and be more excited about their victories than your own. It’s good to be brought back down to reality by someone you love and who loves you. And honestly, it’s good to be reminded that it’s not all about you. In fact, it’s about so much more than you.
After a 6 a.m. class

Alright, this post already got way longer than I intended. I could actually go on and on about what this past year has taught me in terms of self-image and trusting other people and dedicating yourself fully to something. But those are all topics I’ve touched on in some way or another.

So I will leave it at this:

Before Crossfit, I thought a gym was just a gym. It was a place I dreaded going. It meant bitterness with the scale and movements I couldn’t master and people who could accomplish so much more than me. But today, it isn’t about any of that. Today the gym is a place I go to be myself. It’s a place I look forward to going, a place where I can leave every outside issue alone, a place I can pour myself into the workouts and leave it all on that floor.

It’s a refuge, really. That’s the best way to describe it. Crossfit Repo is my refuge. It’s saved me and woken me up in so many ways. It’s given me some of the people I love the most in this entire world. And I know it will continue to do these things, for myself and for others who walk through those doors.

So here’s to the victories, frustrations, tears and laughs of year two.

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