There’s a tradition at Crossfit London, and I’m sure at other boxes, of marking your first year. So, January 13th was my crossfit birthday. Like the queen I sort of have two birthdays. In the previous summer, I did the first 3 beginner’s classes, then stopped. Over the Christmas lull that year, so 2012, I was desperate. I’d put on even more weight, my 40th birthday was looming ever closer and I was miserable. The carnet I’d bought for my first lessons was about to expire, so I sent Crossfit London an email, asking if I could extend the expiry. And I got an email back which (it is probably not a massive exaggeration to say) changed my life. Cleverly, Mr Crossfit London said yes, they could extend it. But, fitness is a journey, why not come back in and give it a go? And I read that email in bed and immediately booked myself into a class.
It was cold, I was 16 stone ish and terrified. And I couldn’t even do a squat. And when it came to the WOD (21, 15,9 reps of a front squat with 7.5kg bar and sit ups), I did something like 4 reps before the coach took the bar off me. Then some air squats, then ones with a pole, then he suggested I stop entirely and just do the sit ups. And I tried, and couldn’t do one. They got me an ab mat. Still no good. They held my feet, still no good. And I lay on that floor doing my best not to cry out of sheer frustration and annoyance at how I’d let myself get in such a state. And I suspect they knew I was pretty close to tears. I was given homework and lots of encouragement, and on the way home I tweeted something like ‘brilliant first class at crossfit London, loved it but frustrated at my hopelessness.’ And then something magical happened. The next day, I got an email from Mr Crossfit, in which he said he was glad I loved it, but wanted me to be less self-critical. He’d seen my tweet and spoken to the coach and I had nothing to worry about, just keep trying and it would all come good. And I knew that, if I just put my faith in them, tried my best (even if I was miles behind everyone else) and kept going, this could be the thing for me.
A year later and four stone lighter and there are still a million things I can’t do. There are still brand new beginners stronger, fitter and more flexible than me. I’m still often last in the WODs. And none of that matters that much. What matters is that I’m the oldest I’ve ever been and the fittest I’ve ever been and I’ve got my best years ahead of me still. What matters is that I’ve found something that works, a brilliant community of awesome people who cheer, encourage, tell me to step up when they know I can, coaches who are proper coaches, not instructors. Yes, I still can’t do a handstand, but I’m less scared of trying. Yes, I can still only overhead squat 18kg but that’s 18kg more than I could do this time last year. I ran 3 miles yesterday and I was barely out of breath. I look at the workouts and, when it’s a chipper from hell, I don’t cancel out, I think ‘right, let’s get this done’ even if I’m last or don’t finish. I say yes to more things. I can ride a bike. I love an air squat. I actually quite like wall balls. I can do a Turkish get up. I still laugh when someone uses the word ‘snatch’.
So happy crossfit birthday to me. Here’s to many more and I can’t wait for the next one!