What is a time of joy for many women was my darkest hour.
Two weeks ago, I decided to take the plunge and try CrossFit, mostly because I just moved to Milwaukee and can’t find a spinning studio as awesome as Flywheel, and also I’m getting sick of not understanding all the secret lingo splashed across my Facebook newsfeed by CrossFitters, who seem to be multiplying like rabbits. If I don’t hop on board now, my grandma will probably beat me to it.
Problem one: I have very little upper-body strength. Problem two: I have about as good of balance as Jennifer Lawrence in a Dior gown at the Oscars. On crowded public transit, I topple into strangers left and right. And never in the romantic comedy “it’s so cute you just fell into my lap, let’s fall in love” way.
On the first day, before I even did the first exercise, the owner of the box (CrossFit for “gym”) called me skinnyfat. Like xoContributor Andrea Claire, I’m anti the f-word. I also hate the word skinny. Toned, in-shape, athletic: those are all compliments. Skinny makes me think of a gangly thirteen-year-old at a school dance. Have you ever looked at the synonyms for skinny?
The owner didn’t mean any harm, and actually seems like a nice guy who cares a lot about his business (he lives across the street!), but I am regretting not telling him that’s a bad thing to say to a woman, even if she does have toothpick arms like me. I’m proud of the strength I do have and excited to build on it. Even if all of the following things have happened in the last two weeks:
1. I fell on my head and almost kicked my trainer in the junk.
So, there is a CrossFit move called a handstand pushup. The first step is being able to do a handstand against a wall. My coach for the day, Blue, told me if I kicked up from all fours, he could grab my legs and get me into handstand position. Easy, right?
I kicked, he grabbed and in a jumbled mix of panic, confusion and my arms not being able to support my weight, I started flailing around like I had just fallen out of a canoe and couldn’t swim. I narrowly avoided kicking Blue in the groin before I dropped straight onto my head. Was anyone taping this? Is America’s Funniest Home Videos still a show? I think Crazy CrossFit Girl would be a winner. (Side note: I’ve seen photos of CrossFitters whose eyelids have turned red from all the blood rushing to their head during handstand pushups, so that’s something to look forward to.)
2. I fell off a monster-truck tire.
Next, Blue flipped over an enormous tire and told me to jump onto it. Blue has never seen my sad attempts at jumping photos. When I finally did leap high enough, only the tippy-toes of my Sauconys made contact with the top of the tire and plunk -- I toppled right off. Graceful.
3. I tripped over a jump rope approximately 847 times.
I was so excited for the jump rope part of CrossFit. I’m a great jump roper! Except no amount of Double Dutch in third grade can prepare you for the double under, where you have to whip the rope under your legs twice before your feet touch the ground. I must have tripped over the rope more than that awkward kid Merle did on the playground during our Double Dutch marathons, which was enough to earn him the nickname "Merle the squirrel who looks like a girl."
Even though everyone at the gym has been very welcoming, I’m sure all the crazy-strong men and women there can’t help but think WTF over my inability to do anything athletic.
And I don’t care. Because you know what? My head bump feels like the first step to overcoming my fear of handstands, and I can’t wait to conquer that tire, and jump onto an even bigger one. And not to prove something to a coach who called me skinnyfat, or to a guy who can lift 350 pounds, but to myself. Even if it takes me ten years.
If you liked this piece, or just appreciate a good pun, follow my CrossFit journey on my blog, Hot Cross(Fit) Buns.