So here we are, the final class of the CrossFit ‘new you’ challenge where six weeks ago a bunch of pale, lumpy middle-aged people (mostly women) showed up in spandex and apprehension eager to get started on a class we were pretty sure would kick our asses and wondering just how bad we’d be at it. Now we know. Note to self: don’t ask questions if you won’t want the answer.
Day one we were introduced to something that Torquemada would have envied and the Marquis de Sade ‘s younger, cooler, cousin must have invented. Yes folks, the burpee. This was after we all found out that balance, for us, was a brand of margarine. We also found out that CrossFit sounds a lot like the sound track to a cheesy porn film. Not that I have first-hand experience.
Class two we all confessed to each other that peeing required some advanced planning because getting up and down off the toilet was just way too much like a squat and our thigh muscles were like, ‘oh hell no’. Yet, somehow we all managed.
Throughout the course of the six weeks I discovered that I’m skipping impaired, that I can’t jump rope, that jumping in general scares the living spit out of me, alternating legs seems to be a basic life skill I’m lacking and, that counting reps is really hard to do when you’re trying to count reps and sets. They give you a stack of poker chips to move around to keep track so apparently I’m not the only one. My hollow rocks are pathetic, my planks are full of splinters, the only way I can do a proper burpee is if I can order it out of the seed catalog of the same name. I leave sweat marks on the mat that double for Rorschach tests large enough for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. My flutter kicks have all the grace of a giant tortoise tipped on its back, my high knees resemble nothing so much as a trick pony doing addition. (Tell me Daisy, how much is 2 plus 3? She raises her hoof…) And I’ve never had so much fun being so completely lousy at so many things.
To be fair to me, while my burpees suck the chrome off a trailer hitch I’m not bad at rowing–as long as I remember to tuck my shirt tail in so it doesn’t catch under the wheel. My ex said many unkind and untrue things about me but he was spot on when he told me I walk like a shot out of a canon. Ring rows, I’m not going to say I’m good at them but they do feel like a really nice stretch and I usually arrive early to do a little stretching and a few ring rows to loosen up whatever is tight.
About half-way through the course I was stupid and did kettle bell swings with more weight than I should have making the rest of the class harder than I would have liked. Basically, if it involved the ‘lift the left leg’ I was in a world of sorry. Here’s where we all have to remind ourselves that we should never confuse the process with the product. Even a pathetic mountain climber is still a mountain climber. I want to make it clear, this was my own fool mistake and that it aggravated a muscle that I tore years ago was all on me. No one made me use that weight and no one kept me from going over and getting a lighter one. I learned my lesson and for the rest of the class I got two weights in case I needed to switch to a lighter one part way through and, once or twice I did.
Last week we got on the scales and redid all the tape measure stuff. Did I lose weight? Nope. Gained a pound but to be fair, my body clings to fat like a lichen to a stone so that wasn’t a surprise or a disappointment. Besides, I’ve also been working at improving my yeast baking and this was during Mardi Gras. Weight loss and baking King Cake are not natural allies. I don’t really mind, I got better at BOTH yeast dough AND Cross Fit.
What did surprise me was that I lost 10.5 inches most of it from bra line to panty line. My left arm got a bit bigger which is okay, that arm has to carry my right arm places it can’t go on its own thanks to three (count ’em, three) repairs on that shoulder. I’d like to say I look way more svelte but I’m still a pale, lumpy middle-aged woman but I’m a stronger pale, lumpy middle-aged woman. I’m no more agile in getting up off the floor but I’m faster so there’s less time to be self conscious. That’s a win in my book.
There were a lot fewer of us at the end of the class than the start but that’s normal. People dropped out because they didn’t like to sweat or their doctor watches too many infomercials. Those of us who did the whole thing encouraged each other, laughed and looked forward to every class. Is this the end of Cross Fit for your faithful reporter? Nope, I’ll be back next week and I’ll be looking for a similarly skilled instructor up in South Bend where I normally live.
Here’s my advice–you can do it. Maybe you’ll need modification. Maybe everything needs a modification. Absolutely every activity that involved my arms over my head needed to be modified so I didn’t pop my shoulder out of joint but that wasn’t a problem at all. We had people with bad backs, bad knees, bad shoulders and most of us fell into the ‘one from column A and one from column B’ category of cranky knees and off-balance hips. This class was aimed at those of us over 50 with joints that provide their own sound track. Maybe your grace and style are something only your mother will love but don’t quit. Yeah, I’m a mutant and I’m strangely delighted and entertained by my complete incompetence but it’s okay if you’re not. People will stay and count out your last reps with you and high five you as if you’d actually accomplished something–which you have.
After the last class I drove up towards Brevard and hiked a few miles along the Davidson Trail. And that’s why I did the class–I plan to be hiking and biking and walking and being really bad at body boarding and going nuts watching college football for years to come. Or, as my mom would have said, “the more you do the more you CAN do”
Here’s links to the earlier cross fit confessions: