One Year Later: Just Another Life Changed

At this point in the year, anyone and everyone who does CrossFit has either participated in or been witness to the 2014 Crossfit Open. A magical time where the entire CrossFit community near or far becomes one. We all go through 5 brutal weeks of leaving everything we have on the floor, challenging ourselves, and proving what we are made of. For me this was the very first, and hopefully not the last, time I got to experience what the Open really means…
 

Even when you’re just beginning CrossFit, you hear talk of the Open and the CrossFit Games constantly even when you are no where near February or March. People in all boxes everywhere throw around names like Rich Froning, Jason Khalipa, Samantha Briggs so often that eventually you just cannot take not knowing what this all means and you run home and google these people and are absolutely mesmerized by the multitude of YouTube videos you find. You are told these magical stories about the Open and how it changes people’s lives and you see everyone come alive. It seems fantastical. The idea that everyone no matter how short or long a time you have been crossfitting can compete for the chance to make it to the Games and go head to head with these people who you just watched do almost inhuman things in these YouTube videos?! Impossible. It just cannot be true. You don’t know if you can really believe it… Until you are smack dab in the middle of March and see first-hand truly how honestly magical and amazing the torturous 5 week long Open season really is.

It wasn’t until now that I actually realize just how lucky I was to venture into my box, and now second home, right in the mist of the 2013 Open. I attended my very first On Ramp beginners class sometime in the middle of March and all I remember is walking into the locker room hearing all the girls talk about how they did on this WOD and that WOD and reminding each other to go online and submit their scores before the end of the day. Now, it being my very first time walking into a CrossFit box and to be frank for a moment… I started CrossFit because I found a Groupon. A damn Groupon that happened to pop up in my email around the time I was looking for something to shake up and excite a lack luster and less than progressive exercise routine. I had NO CLUE what CrossFit even was. None. Needless to say I found out reaaaaal fast… I was overwhelmed, intimidated, terrified. Yet somehow there was something inside that said I should find out more about all this gibberish and code they were speaking. Why in the world was everyone SO FREAKIN EXCITED about working out?! I was intrigued. I was captivated right then and there. Day one and I am in. Committed. I wanted that fire and passion. Heck, I needed it.

I remember being told about the Open, about how it worked and why it was so much fun. I remember the environment and energy at my box being amazing on a daily basis. I did not attend any of the classes where they were doing the Open WODs themselves. Now I wish I had but at the time I was a newbie and I was still finding my place; and like I said before I was damn intimidated. But every morning I woke up just wanting to start my morning with the smiles and enthusiasm I knew I would find from the amazing CrossFit community I was becoming a part of. For some strange reason, 7:30am beginner classes didn’t seem to enthuse anyone in March 2013 because I was alone almost every single Tuesday and Thursday morning. But I learned a lot and I formed a bond with the two coaches that rotated days and did all my classes. A bond which I am very thankful for today because it pushes me to work hard day in and out. Somehow I was more motivated to workout now than I had ever been before in my entire life. The first time I did a “push up”, or my idea of one then, I’m pretty sure my coach actually laughed at me. I was surprised to find out I actually had NO IDEA what a REAL pushup was. I was dropped down to laydown getups… on my knees. It was such an unbelievable wake up call. I was slapped with a taste of reality immediately. I managed to survive the On Ramp classes and without thought or hesitation, showed up for my first “real deal” class at 6:30am on April 2nd. That is the time and day to which attribute my true start of the beauty that has been, and will continue to be, my CrossFit journey.

Going through this past year, the amount I have learned and the progress I have made both inside and outside of the gym is just incredible. They say that CrossFit, especially the Open, teaches us about ourselves. After these last 5 weeks and after this past year I could not agree more! Not only has my body changed in amazing ways but my entire life has changed over the past year. I have developed a confidence in myself that I have never had, nor had I even hoped to have, before. It doesn’t just stem from being happy with myself physically when I look in the mirror (because honestly I have just gone from “when will I get rid of this fat” to “come on you pesky abs show your definition already” haha) but I am just happy overall. My eating habits have changed completely and I can feel my body functioning better on an everyday basis. My mindset has also been seriously altered. I am stronger mentally; more focused and determined. These are all changes that I have noticed both as they happened gradually as well as when I stop to reflect on the last year of my life and do big picture. So come February when I knew I had the chance to actually participate in the Open for the very first time, I once again felt that same fear and intimidation but I looked that fear in the face and attacked. I JUMPED at the chance. I knew I absolutely had to do this. I owed it to myself. After all, isn’t the Open and the community and environment and energy that surrounds it the very thing that drew me into CrossFit to begin with?
 
When I tell you that participating in the Open was everything I imagined and more, I am not lying. Over these past 5 weeks, I have been able to prove to myself how far I have come. Sure I have seen myself change of the past 12 months and hit new PRs and do new movements I couldn’t even fathom last April. But to see it all add and all come together is more overwhelming than words could describe. Now I am definitely not saying I killed it or that I could hold a candle to half of the people doing CrossFit. But fitness after all is not about comparing yourself to others. Even during a competition time like this, the proud feeling after a WOD should come from knowing that you did the best YOU could and that your performance beat the performance you would’ve given a year ago or even a month ago. It’s about having the progress be clearly visible to yourself. I can think of three really good examples of this that made me insanely proud during the Open.

First of which being one word, snatches. As little as just a couple months ago I was still avoiding WODs with snatches because the movement SCARED THE BEEGEEBUS out of me. Recently, I had been pushing myself to work on them and just figure them out already so I can stop cowering from these WODs. When I saw them pop up in 14.1, I went in focused and determined. I did not at any point during the workout resort to any sort of clean and jerk sequence. I wouldn’t let myself. I maintained my mindset and told myself that I felt strong, and I did. The WOD ended and I was proud of every single time I touched the bar that day. The next moment of pride came with the end of 14.4. Finishing with 152 reps felt almost like a dream. Toes to bar was one of those movements that evaded me for so long and that I still do not have down to a science. I saw this workout announced and it was like a stab in the heart. I had no clue how this was gonna go. Upon finishing my wall balls, I looked at the clock with just 1 minute left and knew I just had to get under that bar. At least once. Now, until December, I had sat comfortably at a 75# clean, power, squat or otherwise. That was until my coach called me out for not challenging myself and finding my true strength. I started working up, but kept it at a slow comfortable pace. 95# is only a weight I had dared to touch about twice and both times being squat cleans. So I knew that if I was going to make it happen it was going to be a squat clean. It had to be. Well I don’t know if it was the adrenaline or what but I walked over to that bar, tightened everything, and went for it. Next thing I know I was standing straight up, no squat involved, holding the 95# barbell on my shoulders. I had done it. Power cleaned it. HOLY. SHIT. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t breathe. I got the bar up for one more rough squat clean rep before the buzzer sounded and I collapsed with the biggest smile on my face. This was the BEST moment I have had in CrossFit thus far. My coach looked over and said, “It’s amazing what you can do when you have worked so hard learning the right form in a movement.” My head was spinning in the best way possible.

Yes, the Open exposed a lot of weaknesses for me also. In doing that, though it helped me be able to set some real concrete and possible goals for both the short term and long term. It has shown me a good picture of just where I stand in my CrossFit journey and how much further I want to go. It served to re-ignite that fire and passion that I had when I started CrossFit just one year ago. All I can say is thank you… Thank you to CrossFit for encompassing everything that working out should be from the community, coaching, and energy to the unbelievable combination of gymnastics, weight training, and cardio endurance. Thank you to everyone at Maxability for being such an inspiring group of people and pushing me to work harder than I ever have before and surprise and challenge myself every single day I walk into the gym. Thank you to my family for supporting me and all the crazy changes I have instilled and for following in my footsteps and changing your own lives alongside me. Thank you to my friends for letting me ramble on about CrossFit and never getting sick of me. Thank you to my boyfriend who is my biggest fan and cheerleader as well as a way I can keep accountable; mostly by striving to never let him one up me in his own CrossFitting. Sorry darling haha. And last but not least, thank you to myself for buying that Groupon in the first place and for making the effort to stick with it and progress and become the best version of myself.

Here I am just another living breathing example of how CrossFit really is for everyone and anyone. I am just another life changed completely by what all our haters call an exercise “fad”. 
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