What I love about crossfit, as opposed to every other single type of exercise I’ve ever done in my 30 year weight battle, is that it is not about ‘exercise’, it’s about skill. It’s not about doing something until the clock or the calorie counter tell you you’ve done enough. I’ve never once looked at the clock during a crossfit class, because the focus in on learning something, getting better at something, and refining your technique.
Contrary to most people’s opinions, and actually contrary to what we often say, it’s not just about lifting heavy shit for reps. There is a lot of lifting heavy shit for reps, because lifting heavy shit for reps is unbelievably good for your fitness and conditioning, but there are loads of other skills we are taught, that we need to improve. And some people are better are some than others. Some are good at all of them (probably the sort of people at school who excelled at any sport they tried), and some of us struggle with them all, whether that’s the more gymnastic ones of ring dips, pull ups and handstands, the Olympic lifts of snatch and clean & jerk or the other odd ones that just throw you, such as the double under.
On paper, so simple. When you skip, for every one jump, you turn the rope twice. So you jump higher than normal, and whip the rope round. And lots of people get them right at first time of trying. And then some people, like me, take AGES to get one. I was so desperate to get a DU that I took part in a 30 challenge – 5 mins of dedicated coaching a day to attain the fabled DU. No DU. And then one day, I noticed that the rope came to rest between my feet, which was a sign. And then, in a class, there it was. 8 months of trying. One, measly DU.
Now the thing with DUs, is that they can appear once, then never appear again. So before my next class, I though I’d see if I could get another one, and I got 3 in a row. And pretty much, every time I try, I can get up to 3. No more. Often less. Not consistently. Not under pressure or when I’m tired. But still, they’re there.
But actually what is more interesting is not the actual DU itself, it’s what getting the DU means, and how it came about. Sometimes, things come easy. Weight loss, and permanent change, is not one of them. Those things that make a big difference to your life come slowly, with hard work and perseverance. And from listening to people who know more than you and taking their advice. And trying and trying. And not getting discouraged or angry when you fail. And not stopping because you have skipping rope whip marks on your shoulder. And working out what all the little bits are that will contribute to the achievement, and working on all of them, one by one, drilling them in, until they are embedded habits.
For DUs, this was making sure my hands were in the right place, my feet weren’t piking behind me, I was jumping high enough, I was whipping the rope quickly enough. None of those things came easily – I had to listen to coaches over and over, and spend time jumping and jumping, getting all the parts in place.
So the parable of the double under – work out the steps you need to take to achieve your goal, and work on the one by one. Imagine they are the baddies in a film, taking their turn to attack the hero. Karate chop one, shoot the other in the shins, elbow a third in the face. Beat them all, in turn, methodically, and before you know it, you’re double-undering all over the place.