A while ago I told you that there were two things I wish I had started doing when I was a kid. The first one was learn an instrument. The second one is what is now my other great love, the sport that it is CrossFit.
'What on earth is CrossFit?' I hear you say. Or if you've heard of it you're likely thinking 'How is CrossFit a sport?' But if you're a CrossFitter you will 100% understand why I love it. For those of you in the first two thought categories I'd like to tell you a little more about it.
Everyone is supposed to try to keep themselves fit and healthy, right? But how many people hate the gym, or exercise in general? How many people have a gym membership but don't use it? How many people sign up after New Year and go for a month? A lot is the answer to all those questions.
I was never one who hated exercise so speak. I've always been generally fit and strong being a farm girl and having dogs and horses, but I was one of those who hated the gym. Thankfully my lifestyle reduced the need for me to be in one to a minimum, if anything at all, but there was a stage in my life where I no longer had horses and I ended up being sat behind a desk a lot at work. I was also eating a lot and we all know where a sedentary lifestyle and lots of food gets you!
So, to the point. I was 27, and out shopping with my mum one day. We've always had a very honest relationship, my mum and I, so I wasn't overly surprised when we were in a changing room together, she looked at me, and stated very matter-of-factly, 'Kerrie, you're getting fat'. Yeah thanks mum I'm aware... And I was aware, I knew I was putting on weight and my clothes were getting too small but I wasn't actually offended by her comment at all. It was the kick up the arse I needed to actually get myself into exercising.
I am however, one of those people if you remember, that absolutely hates the gym. So what was I supposed to do? Well luckily, a very good friend of mine had just started going to CrossFit classes at my local independent gym and he dragged me along. I went to an Intro Session and that was it, I was hooked. I wasn't standing in a gym looking at the equipment trying to work out what to do, how long for and whether I was doing it right. I wasn't surrounded by people in their own little world either avoiding eye contact, looking me up and down as if to say 'you don't belong here' or worse, eyeing themselves up in the mirror and taking photos of their flexed muscles! I was surrounded by people from all walks of life, who were there for one reason alone, to get themselves fit and healthy into old age. No posing, no judgement, just hard work and fun.
'Fun? How can the gym be fun?' I hear you say. Well it is if you do CrossFit, trust me. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying it's for everyone, but I see very few people start and quit.
I do realise I still haven't told you what CrossFit is. It's official definition is:
CONSTANTLY VARIED, FUNCTIONAL MOVEMENT, PERFORMED AT HIGH INTENSITY
Still a bit vague I know but let me explain briefly. In CrossFit classes you have a different workout programmed for you everyday so that you don't even have to think about what you are going to do at the gym. Because it's different everyday you also don't get bored and neither does your body. Because you're not doing the programming you don't stick to the things you are good at (something that we are all inclined to do given half the chance). Your body has to adapt on a daily basis and as such you get fitter.
You have a set of coaches who explain everything to you, demonstrate everything to you, teach you how to move safely and then coach you through your WOD (Workout of the Day) so that you don't give up or ease off halfway through just because it gets a bit uncomfortable. But most importantly, you train with a group of people who, without knowing it, push you to work that little bit harder, just by training next to you. Who before you know it, have become your best friends and who make you look forward to going to the gym so you can laugh and joke with them and get involved in some friendly competition. Those same people, and everyone else you train with, will cheer you on as you battle through your last few reps, or scream louder than you with excitement when you get that new deadlift PB or finally get that elusive first pull up/muscle up/enter your own goal here.
You may even get the competitive bug and end up competing individually or, like me, in a team (told you it was a sport!). This weekend myself, and 5 of my very best friends (plus some more who top the friends league as supporters and some great friends in a second team), are heading down to Bantham Beach in Devon to compete in a team competition called Tribal Clash. I'll leave the full explanation of this competition until after I'm back but if you get a second, just take a look. It will be a weekend of hard work, facing fears, well-drilled teamwork and amazing camaraderie. This will be my 6th year doing this competition (I've only missed one as I was a bit busy bringing my small person into the world that weekend!) and I hope to carry on doing it for as long as a team will have me.
I'm aware I seem to have waffled on quite a lot in this post. Well done if you are still reading! Maybe I've inspired you, maybe I've put you off (apologies if it's the latter). But if you do start CrossFit, and if you do start competing, all of the above applies. You may never have met the people you are training with or competing against before but I promise they will be cheering you on if they finish before you, or shouting that bar up from the ground for you. People you have never even met will be rooting for you to succeed and that, right there, is exactly what CrossFit is.
To bring myself back to the point of why I wish I had started CrossFit as a kid, it's simply because I would be much better at it that I am now! I would still have my flexibility that I've lost through riding horses and sitting at a desk all day. I would have learnt all the complex movements at an age where my brain and body was much more inclined to absorb the information and create the good habits. I wouldn't have had to retrain my body to move properly either something that I'm still attempting to achieve. Just look at any toddler and you will see them squat perfectly and pick things up correctly. They've not had any training, we are born knowing how to move, we just forget because we don't move enough! Having said all this, I wouldn't have actually been able to do CrossFit when I was a kid because it was only established in its current form in the year 2000 in the US, so by the time it spread to the UK I was definitely not still a kid! If I could go back though, gymnastics would definitely be top of the list.
If you haven't read the predecessor to this 'With Hindsight' post, take a look at it here.
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