Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Happy Anniversary to Me

One year ago today, I attended my very first CrossFit class.

At the time, I’d just completed a few rounds of the P90X and Insanity home fitness programs, and had managed to build up a passable level of metabolic conditioning. After months of bodyweight resistance exercises and jumping around crazily in my garage, I signed up for 5 a.m. classes at CrossFit Palo Alto expecting that the programming would be challenging, but nothing I couldn’t handle with a little extra effort.

It didn’t take me long to realize that "a little extra effort" wasn't even close to being enough. This shit was hard, and I was just plain awful at it. My initial attempts at Olympic lifting were laughably inept, and I couldn’t jump rope to save my life. I had no trouble with dead-hang pull-ups, but when I tried to kip, it looked like I’d grabbed onto an electric fence.


I’m embarrassed to admit it, but each night before a workout, I'd crawl into bed with a pit in my stomach, scared of what evil plan Tim had in store for the morning WOD, and wondering how badly I'd perform. Once, Tim announced an upcoming workout on Facebook; I was so freaked out I couldn’t fall asleep.

But I never once thought about quitting, or even skipping a class. I was hooked on CrossFit – especially after watching last year’s Games and seeing someone my size kick ass at all the things I wanted to be able to do. I wanted to get better at CrossFit, and given my utter lack of athleticism (I’m a total nerd, yo), I knew that I wouldn’t improve unless I kept working at it.

So I did my homework. I peppered Tim with questions about O-lifting technique and studied his CrossFit "Fundamental Movements" instructional DVD (still the only one of its kind!) in an attempt to skill up. I bought myself a jump rope and made myself some parallettes -- and used 'em. I eventually amassed a nice collection of toys in my garage -- all so I could doggedly practice the same skills that XFitMama -- at that time, the only other member of our mighty 5 a.m. class -- was so easily cranking out.

Some skills took longer than others to learn, but every time a new movement clicked into place, I was over the moon. I remember the satisfying THUNK! of my heels against the floor the first time I properly power-cleaned a barbell. And I can recall exactly how it felt to complete my first successful kipping pull-up, muscle-up, handstand push-up and double-under. Each time, my excitement didn’t die down for days. Even with setbacks along the way – a failed PR attempt here, a less-than-fantastic Fight Gone Bad score there – I was gaining experience and confidence. And slowly, over the course of a year, I gradually got less terrible at CrossFit.

One year from now, if I’m still blogging away (and wouldn't that be pathetic?), I hope to be able to report that I continued to get better, stronger, faster. I’ll never truly be good at CrossFit -- but that’s the beauty of it: It'll never get easy or old. Unlike P90X or Insanity, I don’t have to pack it up (or repeat everything) after a few months. There’ll always be a new and difficult challenge to tackle.

And let's be honest: With me, there’ll always be plenty of room for improvement.