This week I accomplished a goal I set two months ago.
At the beginning of the year, in a moment of insanity, I decided to join a Crossfit gym. Crossfit is a workout program that combines a variety of functional movements like pull-ups, squats, push-ups, and gymnastics performed at high intensity.
I joined because I wanted to up my fitness level. I wanted to challenge myself to go way beyond what I thought I could do at my age. And I wanted to do it with others to avoid the isolation I often feel during the winter months.
I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
After an initial orientation and training period, I was ready for group classes and, by that point, I started to balk at going to the gym. I felt self-conscious. The workouts were hard. I compared myself to others. And I already felt like the oldest, most out-of-shape member in the gym.
But I went anyway.
On my first visit, I swear I started sweating before I ever lifted a weight #x1F600;.
There were muscles.
Lots of muscles.
Men and women lifting barbells with big ass weights.
Loud music blasting from speakers.
What am I doing here, I thought to myself as I walked over to the stretching area. This is crazy. I’ve made a mistake and I need to find a way to back out gracefully and get my money back.
I knew beforehand that there was a good chance I’d want to quit, so I made a deal with myself. Anytime I felt self-conscious or intimidated I would immediately smile at a stranger and say hello.
It was the opposite of what I’d normally do in this type of situation.
The smiling helped, people were welcoming and friendly, and so I kept showing up. By the third class I had a shift in perception that changed everything.
On this particular morning, once the stretching sequence was finished, we moved over to what looked like a giant jungle gym for adults. Beginning the warm-up part of the hour, we were instructed to start by doing pull-ups either on metal bars above our heads (not a chance), or by using the gymnastic rings hanging down in the center of the cage.
I chose the rings.
The starting buzzer went off and we began the workout. I planted my feet out in front of me, lowered my body to a forty-five degree angle from the floor and then raised and lowered myself, using the rings to guide my movements. Each time I pulled up on the rings, I told myself: You can do this. You belong here. You’ll be stronger in no time.
That’s when something awesome happened.
The loud music changed and one of my favorite songs – Everlong by Foo Fighters – started playing. Two men approached the cage down near my feet, jumped up and grabbed a metal bar above my head. They started doing pull-ups on either side of me, in unison.
As I continued to lift and lower my body to the rhythm of the beat, I noticed the men’s movements were now synchronized with mine and a crazy fantasy popped into my head: I imagined myself in my own music video flanked by two backup dancers swinging to the beat.
The image made me laugh out loud.
The guys looked at me and smiled.
I suddenly felt like I belonged.
I left the gym that day standing a little taller, feeling a little stronger, and convinced that I, too, could hang in there.
Just not on the pull-up bars… yet #x1F600;.
Two months later, I’ve reached my goal of doing push-ups in good form and I’m able to do more squats than I ever thought humanly possible. The random aches and pains I used to feel in my knees are long gone, and I’ve made some new, health-conscious friends.
All because of a shift in perspective and a willingness to do the opposite of what I normally do.
While I don’t expect to become a champion athlete or a Crossfit queen anytime soon, I do intend to keep challenging myself.
I refuse to be a prisoner who lives inside a comfort zone that keeps her safe, but uninspired.
This Week’s Video
Here’s one of my favorite performances from Foo Fighters playing Everlong on David Letterman’s last show. You can watch it here. Enjoy! #x2665;