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Gym Horror Story – A Reflection
by Coach Leslie
Oh the terror…
I was dropping in for a class at another gym, and was hopeful the program would favor my strengths. In addition to being at a strange place, I was joining other CrossFit Gym Owners for a workout. Experts and top athletes. I could feel the guilt welling up in my gut, knowing that I haven’t done a true CrossFit workout since the Open. Needless to say I was a bit anxious. It doesn’t matter that I’ve been exposed to CrossFit for the past 7 years, and it definitely doesn’t matter that I am a box owner. Nope. Irrelevant. The butterflies were identical to the ones I felt when walking into the gym for the first time.
Trying to keep my cool, I nervously walked over to the whiteboard to peek at the workout – praying that it would involve a barbell. “Please, no running. Please, no burpees. Please, please make it be something I won’t embarrass myself with.”
Five rounds for time / 15 minute cap:
10 Wall Balls
5 Burpee Pull Ups
Alright. Well. It could be worse. It could be better, but it definitely could be worse. But I’m here, and I am in it, so it’s happening. We started with a strength piece – back squats. Awesome, I know I will enjoy the first portion of class! Let’s go.
In addition to members from the host gym, I met people from all over the country – east coast, mid west, south – and everywhere in between. Even got to share the squat rack with someone who owns CrossFit gyms (yup, plural) in Switzerland. How cool is that?
Then it was time. My barbell wasn’t anywhere nearby to save me. I grabbed a 14 lb wall ball and picked a spot. Chose a pull-up bar nearby and did a single set. I wasn’t too worried about the wall balls, and the burpee pull-ups shouldn’t be too bad. But oof. That run is not the bees-knees. Ignorance is bliss, and unfortunately I knew that the run would make the other two tasks feel rough.
3-2-1 Go…Everyone shoots out the door and rounds the corner. I quickly find a comfortable pace at the very back of the pack. No worries there, as expected. And it hit me. Here is a group of people, from all over the USA – all over the world – working for the next 15 minutes to better themselves. Running “to the brown sign and back.” Nothing fancy, nothing elaborate. Simple. The camaraderie was instant. It’s like this silly little workout has the ability to unite folks, regardless of backgrounds, fitness goals, life goals, family life, priorities, values, and religions.
I focus on my breathing, making sure I don’t even attempt to catch up – knowing that that pace would crush me. I scoot back into the gym for wall balls and burpee-pull-ups. Round after round, yes, the run sucked more each time, but for once I forgave myself and just focused on the moment. Breathe in, breathe out. Just keep moving.
Then it was the last round. Yup. Round 5. A majority of the others in the class were already done before I even started the run. Out to the brown sign, cruising with my goal to be to keep moving – I didn’t really need to walk. A fellow gym owner from London met me at the corner to give me a high-five and words of encouragement. In the door, a few folks clapping, and encouraging words all around – “Finish strong, Leslie” “You got this!” “Oooooh those Wall Balls are no problem!” Cruised through the wall balls, and one at a time I chipped away at the burpee pull-ups. 14:01 and done.
High fives all around from folks who were strangers 60 minutes ago. Sweat everywhere. It didn’t matter that I was last. In fact, it reaffirmed why I do what I do. It doesn’t ever get easier. Folks respect hard work. And most of all, effort is always rewarded. Just stepping in the door, working hard, staying within yourself, and supporting those around you is rewarded with warmth, compassion, and encouragement. It’s that simple.
Remember this the next time you walk in the gym – any gym. Yes, someone may have more experience than you. They are struggling in a different way. Yes, someone maybe more beginner than you. They are struggling in a different way. Recognize that everyone – everyone – is showing up that day to put in work to better themselves. It may look different, it may be slower, it may be faster, but the feelings are the same.
Commit to being as kind to yourself as you are to those around you. Support yourself as if you were high-fiving that last person finishing. It does not matter if you even finish at all. It matters more that you start. It matters that you show up, put your best self forward, and support those supporting you.
It may not be easy, but it is that simple.
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