I love posts like this, passionate posts that challenge assumptions and defend the things they love. Laura writes brilliantly about something that has inspired her and pushed her to challenge herself, I don’t think you can argue with that, even if the very idea of it makes you want to hide under your duvet cradling a pork pie. There’s just something incredible about finding out just what amazing things your body can do if you ask it to, and something wonderful in reading about the joy Laura takes in doing just this. Personally, I can’t wait to try a post-Minilase handstand, just to see if my body can do it (hint: I sincerely doubt it).
I am fairly new to CrossFit, so please don’t take my words as gospel or quote my subsequent ramblings as any form of authority, but I’ve been encouraged to write this piece by our very own Katielase and Siobhan after I had a little twitter rant the other day. You see The Guardian posted, what I felt, was a particularly mis-informed, ill-written and poorly researched piece on CrossFit. I got quite angry, then upset, and walked away from my computer for a while. How could they be saying such things about something which makes me so happy, makes me feel so amazing?
I could write and write for hours, picking apart that article but instead I’ll let you read it for yourself, and then hear what I have to say and make your own minds up. Both pieces, I think, will be at completely the opposite ends of the spectrum, but at least I’ve tried it. I don’t think the Guardian writer has stopped ‘spectating on people’s CrossFit obsessions instead of doing something useful with my life’ via blogs to talk to a real person. I understand that CrossFit sounds quite scary, and you definitely need to have some form of keen exercise drive to go. But if you like boot camps, or circuit training, then it might be right up your street.
There are big weights if you want to use them, it’s a lot of physical activity, and we call the gym we go to the ‘Box’. The moves are given weird names: ‘taters’ (potato what?!), ‘muscle ups’ and ‘pistol squats’ to list a few. We’re already thinking a boxing ring full of meat-heads throwing massive weights around right?
I started CrossFit because a local running team I’d joined in an attempt to make friends in a new city, really let me down and were very unwelcoming. It took a lot of bravery to get me to the ‘box’ that Monday morning, and as I stood there freezing my ass off (there is no heating, nor changing room at mine) very under-clothed, the coach met me with a massive smile on his face talked me through the plan for the session and did not leave my side once.
He laughed with me when I attempted my first handstand, encouraged me when I looked at the bar in horror, and cheered me on after I completed my first WOD (workout of the day). He checked I was feeling okay, if he could help me and if I had any questions. The more frequently I go, the more he steps back and lets me make my own choices about what I need to do to improve. There’ll be a ‘nice one Laura!’ shouted across the room when I nail a move, or he’ll correct me if I’ve got bad technique. There’s an entire army of coaches and trainers there, each with a smile and ridiculous abs, to show me the way. They’ve spent years training and studying to coach and you can tell. They will name that muscle you didn’t know existed when it begins to hurt, and they’ll write a plan on the board which is physically demanding but completely achievable for everyone in the room.
I don’t know where the Guardian writer gets her info but $200 a month membership? She’s clearly not shopping around (nor looking in the UK)! My box offers unlimited trials up to and including an induction before you are asked to sign up (you’re looking at over 10 sessions) and even then, membership is no more expensive than, say, a Virgin Active gym. The induction is between 3 and 6, 90minute sessions to teach you exactly what to do, where and when. Safety is of upmost importance. Personally, wandering aimlessly around a gym where I couldn’t get into classes was rather boring for £45p/m. I find CrossFit is worth every penny.
They say, if a runner has done a marathon, you’ll know about it. They’ll tell you within the first ten minutes of you meeting that they completed ABC marathon in XYZ time. The CrossFitters I’ve met don’t boast about their weights, or their time, or even if they compete. They might proudly tell you about another member who is currently hitting a PB, or tell you how sore they are from their last session. They struggle, they are humble, and they are quietly proud of themselves and their community.
I hope they can teach me to focus like they do, have the mental strength to keep technique perfect when my lungs are burning, and embrace everyone’s abilities for what they are. It doesn’t matter if you don’t finish the set, as long as you did everything to the best of your ability.
I hope they can teach me to be modest, to be happy with my own abilities and be less judgemental, to stop comparing myself. CrossFitters are the most supportive, kindest people I’ve met in this city, and I’m not going anywhere.
Of course, the abs are also a bonus.
Above all, I hope the Guardian writer, however intimidated or disgusted she feels with both men and women lifting some weights in a fit of ‘hairy-chested competitiveness’ takes a moment to try something before she next slates it. I openly invite her to come to a session with me, I guarantee I’ll be there will pom-poms, as will every other member, and she will leave feeling like she’s kicked this week’s ass, and can take on the world. She can even check my chest for hairs if she likes, I’m no prude.