You Are What You Do
CrossFit Reality Check
Last Thursday, I went with my daughter to what she calls ‘baby CrossFit’. It’s the CrossFit class for newbies. Modified. Simplified. De-Intensified. CrossFit euphemistically calls it the ‘Challenge’ class. The class is, arguably, aptly named because instead of grunting, cursing, pumping and flinging sweat like the big boys and big girls on the other side of the room in the advanced class, we are just supposed to feel ‘challenged.’
I’ll be honest with you. Since I closed the Tribe in September of 2018, I have not touched nor contemplated doing a burpee. Don’t want to. Don’t miss it. Not for a second. In fact, I have completed altered how I strength train to almost exclusively support my running. Now, I’m not saying if that’s good or bad. Right or wrong. It’s simply what I want to be doing.
That being said, I do miss how strong I felt when I was cross training (somewhat like a maniac, I’ll admit) when the studio was open. I was teaching everything that could be taught fitness-wise – dance, kickboxing, strength, spin, straight up 80’s vibe cardio – you name it. And the truth is that my fastest marathon to date was when I was running the least and cross training the most, to the disbelief of my running coach colleagues. It went against everything they thought -which is to run faster, you have to run. A lot. So much for theories.
So after a 3 1/2 year hiatus from power training, how did I feel?
Like an absolute rookie.
The Workout of the Day, or what is known in CrossFit vernacular as WOD, was barbell overhead squats, snatches to overhead squats, and burpees. Basically, the exercises that involved nearly every muscle and every joint in the body. These exercises also tend to reveal gaps in strength and mobility rather glaringly if you know what to look for. Having been a personal trainer for almost 20 years, I know what those movement patterns are supposed to look like. And let’s just say mine weren’t pretty. And they didn’t feel good. Why? Because I’ve stopped doing those movement patterns. It doesn’t matter how many I used to do. My body doesn’t care. It knows what I do now.
In between sets, the instructor, a soft spoken young IT professional from central Jersey, told us to go outside and run 200 yards. From my first foot placement on the pavement, my body shifted gears slightly and slid into it’s comfort zone. Ah, Running. Now that feels good.
Running? Feels good? Am I a masochist? Some kind of unusual being? The benefactor of some kind of uncanny athletic prowess?
Running is so comfortable – almost second nature to me – for one simple reason:
It’s what I do.
Often. And for years and years. That repeated practice consistently over time is the only reason running is so comfortable for me.
Learn… Practice… Repeat
As I walked out of “baby CrossFit” with my shaky legs and sore abs (thank you, burpees!), it occurred to me that one of the main reasons we don’t stick with an exercise regimen is that it is uncomfortable.
And we erroneously believe that it will always be painful. And who likes pain? (If you do, we have other things to talk about).
So we quit.
What we don’t realize is that exercise is only painful when it is sporadic and short-lived. That’s because you simply haven’t given your body a chance to befriend those movements and commit them to muscle memory.
But that’s where the real gold is!
If you exercise consistently, not only will you get more fit, but instead of feeling discomfort, you feel endorphins! Movement patterns can even take on a meditative quality once your body knows how to do them because your brain isn’t busy figuring out execution. That neurological familiarity creates mind space – which is relaxing. It also allows you to focus on the quality and intensity of the movement, rather than busying your brain with learning new ways to move.
As always, pick forms of movement you enjoy and then commit to a schedule. At the end of each month of consistent exercise, give yourself a bit of pampering in whatever form you like. Take note of the positive changes you see in your life as a result of your commitment to consistent movement! Jot them down if that helps build accountability.
Go get ’em tigress!