So it was then, feeling out of shape, (and rather out of sorts), I turned up to my first CrossFit workout. On that darkened morning, and yet to see the clock strike 6am, new words entered my vocabulary; 'box', 'RX', 'WOD', and 'scaling'. In the midst of learning what's what we were told that the session would be scaled back to 50% of the normal workout for us newbies, due to us all 'being out of shape'. "I'll bite", I thought. "Tell me", I said, "do you also want me to do the push-ups on my knees?".
This was handled with good grace, with a demo of a proper pushup being demonstrated. I was somewhat underwhelmed. I also wondered when this would get tough.
Our next session would have me finding out. Apparently we would be doing a 'Girl Workout'. This one would be called 'Cindy', and as I readied myself for the workout I heard someone quietly saying – while smiling - "Cindy is a right bitch". Cindy, like most things in life that catch you by surprise, is straightforward and simple. Cindy would also answer my request regarding doing push-ups on my knees. Likewise, Cindy would answer my question regarding when this would get tough.
The 'Cindy' workout…
- 5 pullups.
- 10 pushups.
- 15 squats.
(AMRAP – As many rounds as possible)
The workout lasts 20 minutes, and you do the 3 sets of exercises as many times as you can. At that stage my limit for pull-ups was 2. (This is total pull-ups and included a break between the reps, with any further pull-up attempts leaving me floundering). So the buzzer went, and I jumped for the bar. The bar - lowered for my benefit and thus creating a 'scaled workout' - was able to be easily grabbed while standing. The first round of pull-ups (in fact 'jump ups' for me on this day), were completed in quick succession. "That was easy", I thought. The push-ups would follow, and after 2 reps I was struggling. Using the newly found proper methods of doing push–ups I had gone from being able to do 50 declines to a handful in a single moment. This was a humbling start. It would get more so before this session was done, and in fact it would get downright ugly.
Squats next. (More "easy"). And then Round 2.
I lost track of time. I lost track of everything in fact. Except those push-ups. "Really??". "Again??". All around me was chaos. People scrambling. People jumping, pulling themselves skywards, doing fast push-ups, and competing reps and sets of perfect squats. And then there was me. I was on my knees by now – and by now it was a struggle to do a single push-up. And I looked up. The time elapsed was an almighty 6 minutes. I smiled. "Happy now??", I quietly asked myself. And looking around I noted a constant feature in the room of athletes around me. All shapes and sizes these people, however without exception a similarity existed amongst everyone in the room. No one was slowing down.
The rest of the workout was downright messy. Squats got ugly by the end, and these are squats with no bar. And then I walked around the room at the end, and shook everyones hand. I had just had my arse kicked. These people turned up in torn shorts and cotton t-shirts, and they wiped the floor with me. It wasn't even close. And I had a singular thought as I walked the room. "I have found my new sport". A tribe is something I have never belonged to, and it took 2 sessions to realise that I liked it.
I will miss competing against my Brothers. Riding through the night. Against each other. Against ourselves. For nothing more than doing our very best. Very best. Every time. Not to 'win' necessarily. No. More importantly, to allow ourselves to make eye contact with the person who looks back in the mirror. The finish lines aren't real, however the people are. I have friends from cycling, and our lives are now intertwined. These people focused, and determined to find their journeys via two wheels. The world racing at them at pace, with the blurred edges of reality shared with views only found at the top of hard earned ascents. These cyclists. These people. These friends. They are more than the results indicate. Times and placings as real as the finish line's they crossed. No. What is real among these special people is the person behind each athlete. The smaller moments when they would do something, not great – but good. Something that made this world a better place. That is real. Farewell to the start line.
I only started CrossFit to get into shape. And yet I found another world. Another place of wonderment. This tribe I now belong to. I like it. And I wonder where it will take me…