There are two sorts of people in the world- those who were willingly picked for sports teams and those who were last to be picked, whatever the sport. The rejects were also more likely to find excuses to bunk off PE- periods that were everlasting or mysterious aches and pains.
The rejects, of they were forced to do it, stood on the sidelines scowling if the ball came too close. It was always cold, the rejects were always wheezing and puffing. They never looked fresh faced and healthy-cheeked. No surprises about which camp I was in. In GCSE years, very exciting you could chose your PE option. My two favourites were golf (because you didn’t have to get changed, you walked to the course and back which provided a lot of dawdling/smoking time and you got to sit in the bar afterwards and have an orange juice) and table tennis (you didn’t have to get changed, it’s really just a game you play in youth clubs). Occasionally I got made to do something else, like badminton, but only if I really had to.
It’s fair to say, then, that I’ve never really understood people who love fitness. I enjoyed Zumba, because it was more like dancing than anything else. But when I used to run a lot, while I found it satisfying to notch up the distances, I can’t say I ever really approached it with anything other than dread. Which is why I find my new enthusiasm a little bit puzzling, while also being pleased that I can now see what the fuss is about.
So now I do crossfit. Which, the more I read about it, the more I realise is the fitness people do when everything else is too easy. And I came to it unfit and at least 5 stone overweight. There are people who are trapeze artists doing it. And, so, once again, I am the least fit/strong in the class. I am the one for whom every new skill is impossible. For whom every skill has to be scaled down, who never finishes the WOD, who is always last, at the back, the slowest, the lowest weights, the squats with the least depth. For a PE reject like me, you’d think that would be tough. And for a bit it was. But crossfit, in the 3 short months I’ve been doing it, has already taught me two very important lessons. Firstly, fitness is a journey, not a destination. And, while I’m starting from a more distant point than others, and I’m progressing more slowly, it’s the progression that’s important, not the arrival time.
Secondly, I’m doing better than someone who doesn’t do it at all. I’m turning up, I’m doing the 400m runs even when I’m plotting how I can run away from the class and get my husband to collect my bag and coat on the sly (this really happened), I’m lifiting stuff above my head, I’m hanging off bars (even if I can’t pull myself up at all).
So the important thing about crossfit, that makes it bearable, is that if you are still doing your last round of push ups while everyone else has been finished for about 10 minutes, your classmates will wait with you, will count down your reps, will tell you you’re awesome (even when you are doing literally the worst press ups anyone has ever seen), will encourage you to keep going, will tell you you’re looking better than they did when they finished (a lie, of course, but a welcome one). The nice girl from level 3 who is awesomely fit will coach you doing back squats and stuff on rings to help you along during the class. They don’t care less that you are the worst in the class, they’re just supportive of a fellow crossfitter who’s on the same journey they went on.
Yes, it’s important to keep trying, to keep trying to get better ever time, to give it your best every time. But you should also give yourself credit for showing up, for doing it, for trying it at all, because making changes isn’t easy and building new habits isn’t easy. Don’t sabotage yourself by judging your efforts and finding them lacking – give yourself a break once in a while!
For the record, I back-squated 30kg on Monday (thank you Helen!) which isn’t much for some people, but is more than I’ve done before, and more than I would have attempted (again, thank you Helen!). So well done me. And next time, I might try for 35kg.