Loren Davine is one of PVCF's oldest friends--she's been a member since March of 2008, back when we were in a 798 sq ft space in an old warehouse in Easthampton. Thanks for sticking with it, Loren--we love you.
The first time I tried CrossFit I hated it and swore I would never go back. I’m not talking about the love-hate relationship YOU have with CrossFit where you hate gutting out a tough workout but love the way you feel afterwards. I mean, quite simply, I hated it. I was out of shape, embarrassed that I didn’t even have the flexibility to do simple body weight movements, and felt like everyone else seemed to have it down pat. I have always enjoyed sports but was never a superstar athlete. I had a globo-gym membership where I would use the treadmills, elliptical, and maybe the leg press a few times a week. Not surprisingly, I never got any faster, thinner, or stronger despite having a membership for several years. My membership was merely $10/month and, if nothing else, it was a bargain price for all the magazine subscriptions I was able to read while I was there.
My then boyfriend (now husband) had seen a CrossFit flyer at the fire station and had decided to give it a try. He would come home and tell me about the different workouts and say how hard they were. He kept suggesting that I give it a try but it didn’t add up in my head: Let’s see here…If it was “SO hard” for you—a guy who has had a gym membership his entire life and is as strong as an ox—certainly it would be damn near IMPOSSIBLE for me. No thanks! However, CrossFit has an addictive quality to it and he couldn’t stop talking about it. After a couple months of listening to his CrossFit stories and workouts, I finally agreed to check it out. I had absolutely no intentions of actually joining…I just wanted to see what the heck he was talking about. I was intrigued that he actually liked it so much because it was 3x more expensive that his traditional gym membership, he could only go during specific class times, and the place looked like an old garage. Curiosity got the best of me and I decided to scope it out.
Now keep in mind that this was almost 6 years ago when Crossfit was not a household name. There was no sign on the door and no glossy posters of Crossfit superstars hung around the room. In fact, there wasn’t a clock on the wall either. Instead, Sean held a stopwatch in his hand and you had to yell “time!” when you finished a workout so he could write down your time. It was located on the second floor of a dingy old warehouse and you never would have found it if someone didn’t actually show you where it was. The only people that knew about CrossFit at that time were super-duper hardcore fitness freaks, chiseled military soldiers, and a handful of personal trainers. Um, yeah…I was none of those.
Again I asked myself what the hell I was doing here? This is no place for me. After my first class at CrossFit (keep in mind that this is long before warm, welcoming on-ramp classes and cut-off times were were invented), I left with tears welling up in the back of my eyes and was mad at my boyfriend for bringing me here knowing FULL WELL that this was way out of my league. How could he have ever thought, even for second, that this would be a place for me? I was out of breath during the warm-up, attempted to do an air-squat 200 times before giving up in frustration, and was lost with the med-ball cleans. It was an epic fail. After swearing off CrossFit forever and giving my boyfriend the cold shoulder for days, he begged me to give it “just one more try.” He asked me to go back one more time and promised I was free to walk away after that. It took a lot of convincing but eventually I agreed…Deal. Anything to get you off my back.
So, I mustered up all my courage, checked my ego at the door, and walked back in the door for what I planned to be the “last” time. As I walked into the room, there was a tall, athletic woman standing there with the most muscular, toned arms I had ever seen. My initial thought was “ugh. Here we go again…” and I decided right then that this was going to suck. She was so fit and I felt even more inadequate. However, like a true CrossFitter, she smiled at me, introduced herself, and proceeded to cheer me on during the workout even though I was the last one to finish. Despite my bleak performance, by the end of the class I was actually smiling and starting to see how this could maybe, just maybe, be a little fun. I pointed to this woman and told Sean, “If you can make my arms look like that…I’ll stay.” Was that a little vein on my part? Yeah, probably, but it gave me someone to look up to and showed me that the results might be worth the pain of working out so hard. A lightbulb went on and I realized this place might not be so bad after all.
CrossFit really is a journey. It’s not the kind of gym you sign up for 6 weeks before spring break so you can lose a few pounds for the beach. It is an entirely new approach to fitness and healthy living that can’t help but seep into every aspect of your life. Within the first couple months, I was already seeing so many improvements. I was losing weight, getting stronger, learning new movements, and building up my confidence. I had even learned to laugh at myself and trust that eventually there would be a movement programmed that I was good at. I practiced my overhead squat in my kitchen with a broomstick over my head, I jumped rope in my driveway, and I lunged around the backyard. I had started in April and by July I got my first unassisted pull-up and had finally gained enough strength to do a push-up off my knees! I was hooked. I started to wonder what else my body could do. I went 5 days a week and loved every sweaty moment.
After two years, I was really feeling like I was in peak condition when I learned that I was pregnant…with twins, no less. As excited as I was about my pregnancy, I was worried that I would lose all the progress I had made and would never be in this shape again. It was also a huge mental shift to go from getting faster, stronger, and better workout times to slowing down, substituting movements, and lifting less weight. I would look around the room and see other people making significant gains while I was huffing and puffing in the corner next to a big fan. At times I was discouraged and frustrated that everything I had worked for was slipping away.
That is when I learned an important lesson: Some else’s progress has no bearing on my own success. It’s not like there is only so much of it to go around and there wouldn’t be any left for me. I needed to focus on my own journey and make new goals. As much as I have enjoyed the competitive aspects of CrossFit, it was important to strictly focus on my own body, my own needs, and redefine my idea of success. I ended up CrossFitting throughout my pregnancy and, with the exception of heartburn and indigestion from my growing belly, my pregnancy was a breeze. I never once had an ache, pain, complication, or even a moment of nausea. I am certain that CrossFit is to credit. Many people think about losing weight after a pregnancy and getting back into shape once the baby is born. However, the best thing I ever could have done (and I only learned this in retrospect) was to get in shape before I was pregnant. What a novel idea…
Without a doubt, CrossFit is different now that I have 2 special little boys in my life. Some days it feels like being their mommy is enough of a workout for me. There are days that I can’t get to the gym because I have a sick kid, they have a birthday party to attend, or they napped an hour longer than I thought they would. It’s not nearly as easy to eat a strict diet when I’m juggling the needs of four people and not just my own—not surprisingly, an omelet won’t cut it for dinner 4 nights in a row like my single days. It’s also all too easy to pop those little goldfish right into my mouth when they are floating around. And when the boys come with me to the gym, I know that it’s fair game to be interrupted in the middle of my best “Cindy” workout to change a diaper or mediate a fight for the Nerf football.
Even though it seems like all the stars have to align for me to get to CrossFit, I know that I always feel better when my day includes a workout. I was initially hooked when I started to see physical results and lose weight, but that is no longer my motivation for going. I go for “me time”, to clear my head, to have a physical challenge, and to break a sweat. For the record, I haven’t lost a single pound since I shed my pregnancy weight 4 years ago…but I can’t even begin to count the number of stressful moments that have slipped away after walking in the door. My goal is to workout 4 times a week—it feels like a good balance between kids, home, work, and play. Some of my mommy friends think that’s “a lot” but I disagree. By my calculations, there are 168 hours in a week and I want 4 of them for myself. The rest of my time I devote entirely to everyone else. I certainly have a long list of things I could let eat up my sacred 4 hours at CrossFit but I don’t. I try hard not to schedule appointments, run errands, or attend meetings during the morning WOD times. I am certain that taking that time for myself actually makes me a better mommy to my kids, for countless reasons.
Although I have been at PVCF for almost 6 years now, I am still being challenged and inspired on a daily basis. CrossFit hasn’t lost its luster…it just keeps evolving. I continue to learn new movements, work on my form, and discover what this body of mine can (and sometimes can’t) do. When I see a new person walk in the door, my heart always goes out to them because I know how much courage it can take to just show up, never mind be the last one to finish. CrossFit can feel intimidating and it’s easy to assume that everyone in the room just woke up magically fit one day and have always loved working out. But let me assure you, that’s not the case. If anything, most were just as scared to try it, if not more.
I have so much more to say but it looks like my window of free time is closing. The boys are taking slap shots against my dishwasher with their new hockey sticks, the dog is chewing on a rain boot, and I can hear a Hess Truck coming down the hallway. 3, 2, 1…Go!
Do you want to share your CrossFit story? Email firstname.lastname@example.org if interested!