In August of 2017, my friend Jessie who is a Coach at a local Crossfit gym, invited me and several friends to a class she was teaching that was starting in September called Get Fit! I had tried a number of things over the years of young motherhood to manage my diet and fitness, like running and yoga and learning more about how to cook and eat in a balanced manner. I had run a number of 5K and 10K races and I frequently would run my energetic dog for exercise.
I was very intrigued by Crossfit when I started to meet more and more women who were involved in it and who had transformed their physical appearance by working out at Crossfit gyms. I had previously assumed this was a guy thing and that it would be ridiculously hard-too hard for me to ever succeed at as on older female.
The class my friend was teaching sounded like the perfect way for me to see just how fit I was and try something new and challenging without going all in and totally embarrassing myself in a Crossfit gym. While I thought I was a fairly healthy woman (because my Fitbit said I got more than 10k steps daily!), I quickly learned just how weak I was -the very first day of class in fact!
I went home that day after our first workout and assessment so frustrated with myself; I felt slow and weak. That night in my kitchen, I realized lifting my stainless steel pots and pans out of my cabinets was challenging me. I thought about how I was frequently asking my husband to help me with heavy things and I especially noticed how hard it was for me to grip things (my hand would cramp up and hurt so much!).
Additionally, I started noticing the health of my extended family members; obesity, heart disease, poor circulation, diabetes and back problems seemed to plague so many of them. I was aware of how important my diet was for these things, but I began to realize that it was not just my diet that was key to my overall health, but also my body’s muscle mass, core strength and grip strength.
I went back to that Crossfit class with renewed determination to learn and grow. Over the next 9 weeks, I learned SO MUCH about food intake and how it affects my performance and I was challenged mentally and physically by the dynamic workouts we did each class. I was exhausted, but so happy and excited to be growing stronger each week.
When that 9 weeks was over, I was hooked. I was aware of my limitations but I had seen how much my body and energy levels changed in a short period of time. I had a new desire to be strong!
I’ve been at Crossfit St Charles for one and a half years now (Sept 11 is my two year anniversary!). I’ve grown so much as an athlete (YES! I consider myself an athlete!) and as a person as I’ve discovered what resilience and determination can do for a woman. I currently spend between 4-6 hours at the gym most weeks and if I had more time available, I’d spend it there too!
My Grandmother thinks I’m nuts for spending so much time at the gym. She tells me that I have nothing to prove to anyone and she asks me why I would do that to myself? Other friends who are unsure about Crossfit have said things similar; asking me why I am opening myself up to injury, being a chief concern.
Here’s the thing; as our bodies age, women are told over and over by doctors and scientists that we are LOSING muscle mass and bone density faster than men. Building your bone density and muscle mass is tremendously important for females and it doesn’t just happen by drinking milk ladies! Weight training is a key element in preventing muscle loss and building bone density as you age. In fact, weight training is one of the best ways for women to improve bone growth!
Each Crossfit gym has certified coaches teaching each class and providing one-on-one training advice to protect you as an athlete and to challenge and grow your skills and strengths. If you have a physical limitation or an old injury (or if you develop a new injury), the coaches and staff work WITH your limits and injuries to provide you with a movement that allows your body to work without causing further injury. The coaches and staff are there to help you with technical aspects of the more challenging movements too. You are never in a space alone trying to figure out how to do something on your own. Many times women have told me that they need to get in shape FIRST before they try Crossfit, but I beg to differ. Coming to Crossfit is like coming to Jesus, Come As You Are! YES! Limitations and all. Why? Because your growth and progress will blow your mind even more.
This translates to an investment; yes, Crossfit is expensive. I work part-time to cover the cost of my membership. That may sound crazy to some, but I believe my health is worth it! We are given one life on this Earth and one body. It’s up to you how you will utilize what you have been given. I call it stewardship of the gift I have been given!
I came across an hilarious quote the other day when I was researching a crossfit movement; it said, “The only weight problem I have is trying to figure out how much more weight to load on my bar.” I love that so much because my health is not about the number that comes up on my scale in my bathroom when I step on top of it. It’s about the whole me! What is my mobility like? What is my load capacity? What can I endure and for how long?
My scale isn’t going to tell me what my arms look like or what my quads look like. My scale isn’t going to tell me if I can do a pull up or a push up. Our bodies are much more than what they weigh!
Crossfit has been a phenomenal discovery for me as I have learned and grown over the past 18 months. I want to encourage my female friends-no matter their age-to consider Crossfit, or at least weight training for the benefit of their bodies. Because if a 94 year old man can do it, so can YOU. Limitations and all ladies!
Blessings in your journey to honoring the body you’ve been given!
*I was not paid to write this post, the views expressed in my blog are my own and I have not been compensated in any way to share them.