I’ll never forget the first time I walked into CrossFit Mt. Lebanon. The gym was large and spacious. The floor was made up of rubber mats, covered with weight plates, barbells and buckets full of chalk. Long ropes hung from the high ceiling. There was a large group of athletes huddled near a whiteboard receiving instructions. Then, they quickly scattered to their weighted barbells and the music started booming throughout the gym. I watched in amazement as they lifted heavy weights and then proceeded to climb the ropes that were hanging from the ceiling. My heart was pounding. “I’ll never be able to do this,” I thought to myself.
I thought perhaps I had made a mistake. Maybe this wasn’t going to be for me. Fortunately I didn’t have to start CrossFit with rope climbs or a weighted barbell. I began in a prep class that taught Olympic lifts with a plastic pipe, rather than a barbell. For four days I worked on proper technique before I was allowed to participate in my first class.
A little over a month into CrossFit I felt like I was becoming more fluid in my movements. I spent less time thinking about the movements, and more time just doing the movements. But I still had my doubts. The night before a class, I would check to see what skill we would be working on and what the next workout would involve. Then the battle in my mind would ensue, “Our skill is handstand pushups? Maybe I should skip tomorrow. I hate being upside down.” The clash in my head would continue, “Look at that workout! It’s so hard. You’re not going to be any good at it. You’re going to be the last one to finish. You don’t want to be last!”
More often than not, I did talk myself into going to class. Sometimes I couldn’t do a skill. Sometimes I could only do a modified version of the skill. A few times I did finish the workout last and it really wasn’t as bad as I had imagined, especially with so many of my fellow classmates cheering me on.
Slowly I started to realize that it really wasn’t CrossFit that was hard. It was the fear, anxiety and nervousness that came along with CrossFit that was hard. Not to be misunderstood; CrossFit workouts are the hardest workouts I’ve ever done in my life, but the pain in those workouts doesn’t really compare to the self-doubt, anxiousness and troubles we may face in our everyday lives. Rather than avoiding what scares us, CrossFit enables us to face those fears, doubts and worries. It forces us to be uncomfortable, let go of our insecurities, and try something new.
During my year long journey at CrossFit Mt. Lebanon, I’ve been the last to finish, lifted the least amount of weight in my class and even fell on my butt. Yet, none of it is as bad as I had imagined. The fear and anxiety in my mind was always worse than the actual event. And one day I’m going to climb that rope all the way to the top. It’s not as hard as I once thought it was.