My fingers were wound tightly around the bar overhead, and my body was stretched out as if awaiting a flogging, when the trainer said, “Now touch your toes to the bar.”
He must be joking, I thought.
But he just stood there as if he expected me to actually do something.
I grunted as my knees wobbled towards my chest.
He talked about torque, while I wondered how many years it would take to actually accomplish this.
Welcome to CrossFit!
Simply finding the CrossFit box was a challenge–especially since I wasn’t wearing my trifocals, and there was no big neon sign pointing to it. My son joked that it was probably in an abandoned paint factory, and he wasn’t far from wrong.
Walking into the CrossFit box was a triumph for me, since I am usually such a mild-mannered (i.e. chicken) type of person, when it comes to approaching strangers and fumbling to explain myself in a foreign language.
However, being somewhat emboldened by my recent trip to the Middle East, I wasn’t too intimidated to burst into the box during the middle of a class, call a cheerful “Hallo!” while waving my stick-arms to people who looked like they could bench press Peugeots, and ask if I could join the beginner’s class.
There was no beginner class, but I went back again twice last week, and I am hooked.
The atmosphere was very cordial and freundlich, and I was never made to feel idiotic, even though I can’t do a single burpee (yet).
I tried to do a push-up and fell to the floor, as if a cave troll had suddenly placed his giant foot on my back.
When the trainer asked me to do a pull-up, I held on to the bar until my elbows quivered, but since that didn’t seem to count like it does at home, the trainer wrapped a giant rubber band around the bar for me to stand upon, to help my fight against gravity. I still couldn’t heft my weight up to the bar, but I did try so hard that my wanna-be muscles still ache 48 hours later.
I have run four marathons, logged countless miles (19 just yesterday), and yet, I am weak as a half-drowned kitten. I am the slowest, most inept person in the CrossFit box. I have to do modified versions of the modified exercises; and yet, there’s hope, as long as I keep going back.
There was a time I couldn’t run a single mile, let alone 26.2 of them (times four); and so I know that someday, if I continue working, I’ll be able to do burpees with the rest of the class.
You have to start somewhere; and sometimes, starting is the most difficult part.
Starting is difficult because it’s humbling. It is humbling because you are learning a new skill, and until your muscle memory kicks in and your strength builds, you are going to stink at it. But if I lived life avoiding humility, I would never learn anything new, and I certainly would not have four marathon medals dangling from my bulletin board.
I am weak, and I know it. But I also know that if I keep working the muscles, they will get stronger.
Why do I have this drive to run long distances and do pull-ups?
It is a question that haunts me sometimes.
Though I have a lot of great-sounding reasons, I also don’t really know. Why did God give me the desires He has? Why writing and not engineering? Why marathons and pull-ups and not Cheetos and video games?
I just don’t fully know.
To be a good and faithful servant means to take care of the things over which you have been given control. For me, this includes diet and exercise. It means putting aside my own desires (I DO actually like Cheetos), and doing what is right and good (like juicing kale).
Sometimes doing what is good means stepping out of the box.
Or in the case of CrossFit, it means stepping faithfully and consistently into the box.
Whatever dreams or goals you have, take a step towards achieving them, and before you know it, you’ll find yourself touching your toes to the bar.