Last summer I attended a Crossfit competition and it looked fun! The following Monday I was in my first Crossfit class and I’ve been attending ever since. (For those who don’t know, Crossfit is a type of exercise based on functional fitness – and it’s pretty darn intense to say the least!)
Now, I’m 5”10“ tall and naturally very skinny. In the real world, this body type has typically been more desired, but in Crossfit, not so much. I stand out like a sore thumb. I am easily a head taller than almost every woman there! Plus, they all weigh more than me, have really nice arm muscles, great thighs… awesome abs. I began to crave big, cool muscles and started going to Crossfit four or five times a week. I was going to do everything possible to get that amazing strength everyone else had achieved. Until the other day…
There I was, standing in the back of the Box (it’s what Crossfitters all the gym), looking at the barbell. It was loaded with my heaviest weight yet and I needed to Power Clean it (lift it to my chest using a particular movement). I had already given it a couple tries, and I was feeling pretty defeated because it wasn’t working and all of the other women in the class were working with much, heavier weights than I was. I started feeling upset.
Frustrated and sweating, I tried the Power Clean again, only to drop the bar in anger.
Worried that someone would notice my struggle, I silently headed to the empty front entrance of the gym. I started walking in circles, deep breathing and trying to talk myself out of breaking down into a full fledged cry. I just wanted to work at the same level as the people around me! I just wanted to get those big, beautiful muscles that all the other women had achieved.
Finally feeling calmer, I trudged back out to face that barbell. This time, I said to myself, I’m going to do it. I’m going to Clean that bar. So, I tried again. Nothing changed and I wasn’t able to lift the weight. Oh the anger! I should be able to do whatever I want to make myself do! I should be able to just put my mind to it and make it happen! Within five minutes of standing there facing that barbell, I had both trainers hovering around me with concerned expressions on their face as I tried not to cry.
But I could feel it coming on. The tears stared to well up in my eyes and I knew I was becoming all red and sweaty faced. Hold it in Danielle. Just hold it in… Nope. Didn’t work. The crying wanted out and I started to hiccup.
I… (hic) can’t… (hic) do it… (hic).
I covered my sobbing face with one of my hands. I tried to ignore my trainers. I tried to be quiet so the rest of the group wouldn’t notice me. I felt like I was the only person who struggled. I felt like my body was betraying me. I felt like I was at the bottom of the heap, and everyone else could just “get” this stuff while I was destined to lag behind for the rest of my life. I envied the women who were doing muscle ups and handstand push ups and how they had simply achieved these things.
As I look back now, I realize I needed that embarrassing moment to take me to the next level within myself. After the workout, I mentioned what happened to my friend Danielle. She laughed when I told her. “What are you talking about? I just cried last night during the WOD! And Kerry cried the other day and Nicole cried last week! It’s not a big deal to cry Danielle – for some people it’s part of pushing through.”
That was not what I expected to hear. And it got me thinking. WHY was I crying? I already know I can’t accomplish anything I’m feeling defeated or upset. I always have to be in complete balance to allow things to click together. And I was certainly not in balance at that time with all the sweating, hiccuping and tears.
I realized that I also had to let go of my attachment to how it was supposed to look, how much muscles were supposed to grow and how I was going to make it all happen on MY timeline. So maybe crying was part of the letting go process for me too. It was my body’s way of saying, “you can’t force it!” Because at the end of that workout, when I felt calm and balanced and I thought I had nothing to lose – I Cleaned the weight. Pretty easily too.
As a Spiritual Teacher I am used to reminding people about balance and letting go of how it’s all supposed to look in their relationships, in their career, in their personal life – but I didn’t realize I wasn’t following my own advice at the gym.
Now, at Crossfit, I’m still pushing myself – but it’s only to do what is best for me. I’m not comparing my body to everyone else’s body and I’m not feeling less than, just because I have a different body type. Sometimes that means more weight, sometimes it means less weight, sometimes it means not going in at all. Today, incorporating ME into my workout is just one more way I feel good about walking my talk.