Me Vs Me – Why I love Crossfit

3,2,1 Go! … Saturday 01st March 2014 at 3.30pm was the moment it all made sense to me. But it all started 16 months ago.

Back in October 2012, I had gone to take a parachute jump, but as I jumped on the scale and had my height taken, their was frantic typing in to a calculator only to be told my BMI was too high to jump. This for me was a real low point, as I had signed up to do the jump to raise money for Diabetes awareness, after my princess Ellie has developed the condition the year before. I had raised over $3,500 and all of a sudden I realised that I couldn’t do it. So tipping the scales at over 100kg was a real wake up for me. I was 40 years old and all of a sudden I was scared that this was the start of not being able to do things.

I had always gone to the gym, and done the same routine run (walk) for 20minutes, stair machine, then some weights but with no idea what I was doing. I did this for about 20 years on and off, my weight fluctuated but essentially nothing changed.

Thanks to facebook I was seeing an old friend do something called “crossfit”, he was lifting weights, climbing ropes, competing and he was looking amazing. So based on this I found a crossfit gym (a box) in Dubai called Lifespark, I made the call, then wandered down. I will always remember that first visit, it was an evening in November 2013, it was bare, nothing like the gyms I was used to, no mirrors, no TVs, no running machines, nothing! There was a rig with people swinging from it. A few people came up and welcomed me, told me to skip to warm up, Skip !!! I can’t skip, i have never skipped. We did back squats that day and then a WOD (work out of the day) that consisted of lunges, sit up and press ups.

I cant tell you what it was, but I was hooked, there was something about it that welcomed me, there didn’t seem to be any preconceived ideas and everyone albeit different were all the same. You can be the fittest person in the world working out next to someone who has never worked out in their lives, you all do the same workout, everyone cheers you on until that very last rep is completed. Very different to the weight room at fitness first.

So for the next 15 months, I have done crossfit, I am a “crossfitter”. I have enjoyed it but I have never really understood why. My fitness has improved, everything in crossfit is measurable. I have done things I never thought I would do. I couldn’t run more than 500m without stopping now I run 5km several times a week, I can run 10km if I want to. I have competed in adventure races, I have done a duathlon, I cycle for house and yes I DID jump out of that plane. I perform olympic lifts, I can swing on the monkey bars at the park, so now there is little that I cant do. However there have been things I have avoided….

Within crossfit there are a number of set movements / skills that you do, some are weights related, others are gymnastic based. I have done most of them, some come with time (ie muscle ups) but others just need practise. There are 2 things, I have struggled with and therefore I avoided, these being handstands and double unders.

The dreaded double unders – so a double under is crossfit staple, it consists of being able to skip, but while skipping you jump once (under) but the rope goes around twice (double). I just cant do them, I look like an elephant skipping and even though I have tried I sometimes manage the odd one but anytime they came up I would revert to singles and not worry about it, that was until this weekend…..

This weekend is the first weekend of the open for the 2014 Crossfit games, to find the fittest person on the earth. Now I have no intention of being the fittest person on the earth, but everyone is encouraged to compete in the open, its a test. So I signed up as I did last year. The open is made up of 5 weeks with a workout announced each week. The first workout 14.1 was to be announced on Friday at 5am Dubai time. I was excited, there was a buzz in the box, facebook was rife with predictions of what the work out was going to be.

I had arranged to do the workout earlier than everyone else as I was travelling, coach Craig had agreed to judge me at 3pm on Saturday, it was all arranged. Exciting times.

Then it happened, I woke up at 5.15am on Friday morning, I checked my phone, facebook, then I saw it, 4 words that just crushed me “Double Unders and Snatches”. Double unders I cant do double unders, I scrolled down horrified as I read “10 minutes to do as many rounds of 30 Double unders (I cant do one) and then 15 snatches” That was it, my open was over before it even started. I laid there thinking about it, there was no point in going, I was just going to waste everyones time.

But as the day progressed I starting thinking about it, and realised even if I could do 1 then I am still in the competition and therefore there is always next week. I practised and managed to get a couple so maybe not too bad. I didn’t even thing about the snatches, I would never get to them, it would take me the whole 10 minutes just to do bloody double unders.

It was also fine because it was only going to be 3 of us there, the elephant skipping would only be seen by 2 other people, no problem I can try and just see what happens. Thank god I had a “private” session.

Private session … hmm no chance, I got to the box, horrified that it was full, there were kids doing crossfit kids, then in the back, I heard it, there was at least 15 people all watching someone attempt 14.1, they were counting his reps, cheering him in every rep. OMG I am up next.

So there I was, in the limelight, I joked with Craig that I didn’t need the bar as I didn’t think I would get to the snatches (i was being serious). Everyone was watching, I glanced at the board to see how others had performed the day before 4 rounds, 5 rounds, 6 rounds. What was I doing, I didn’t belong here. Craig said to me “just do singles, then do a double, 1,2,double,1,2,double. With that the countdown was set to 10 minutes, beep, beep, beeeepppp, and I was off. I was getting encouragement from everyone, everyone was watching and calling my name, it didn’t matter that I wasn’t smashing them out, i was trying and thats was all that mattered.

I did what I had been told, do singles then try a double, so I did, then I got one, then another, it wasn’t quick, it wasn’t elegant but somehow I got to 30, shit what do I do now, I had never thought about the snatches, so I quickly went to the bar, it was fairly light so I did the 15 reps required, and then back to the rope, shit, I’ve got to do more. I did another 30, and managed about 8 snatches before the clock beeped. My final score 83 reps.

So I guess this is my point, I scored 83, but I did something I didn’t think I could do, I did 60 double unders within that 10 minutes. I can now double under, yes I need practise but that fear has gone. So whats is the point, I now realise why I love crossfit, yes you compete against others, but as the saying goes it is actually “Me vs Me”. Rich Froning (the fittest man on the planet) did the same work out and has posted a score of 444 reps, but that doesn’t matter, I am never going to win the games, but for the first time my highly competitive, must win attitude was changed to “this is about me” and everyone in the room already knew that, so it wasn’t about be getting to the regionals, it was about me bettering myself and doing something I cant do.

So 14.1 is done, my score is logged and I am ready for 14.2 but please don’t let it be handstands!

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