By Coach Ashley Talbot
At times, it’s a challenge to move past the negative comments someone may make about something you’re doing. You’ll wonder if you made the right choice or if you’re just wasting your time. It’s easy to be emotionally jolted by what people say, especially about something you are emotionally invested in. For me, CrossFit is one exception; there is nothing anyone can say that will change my opinion about CrossFit.
I got into CrossFit purely out of curiosity and, like I’ve heard so many other people say, CrossFit has changed my life. Unlike the other coaches, I don’t come form a competitive background. Anything active I did was recreational, so I was never really exposed to the ‘push’ of a coach or peers on a team. I watched Reebok commercials for years that showcased girls flipping tires and sweating over chalky kettle bells. Over those same years I also watched my father-in-law transform from CrossFit. He was a marathon runner before CrossFit, and since I wasn’t as active as that, I just assumed of myself that ‘I could never do that’. Plus, there was so much hype about how it’s not good exercise, it’s dangerous, and the gyms are like ‘cults’. I never understood why he loved it so much; a seemingly unreasonable amount of love for exercise. Now I do.
It was summer of 2016, I was having trouble finding an identity outside of motherhood among some other challenges. Justin has just received a diagnosis that he had permanent spinal degeneration and probably lifelong management of chronic lower back pain. He also had about 80 pounds to lose with hope that weight loss would be the answer to his back pain. We agreed we’d find our own fitness. He found weightlifting, I found CrossFit. I wanted a hobby that gave back what I put in. I had driven past this CrossFit gym every day… maybe it’s time to give it a shot. I emailed Outlaw North, Jay got back to me right away and I went in for the initial 15-minute chat and ended up staying for an hour. He was so nice to me and made me feel like it didn’t matter how out of shape I thought I was, this was possible. I had fully intended to do the intros and then think about it for a while. I didn’t need to think, I had found what I was looking for. I showed up for the first intro, it’s August and hot, and a class was finishing up. It was the first time I saw people, including Jay, sweaty and collapsed on the floor, no shirt, just exposed – crawling through a puddle of sweat, just mustering that last bit of strength to reach the person next to him and offer up a high five. They all looked like hell, in pain and filthy, they looked awesome! I wanted that. Whatever they were feeling, I wanted that!
That’s what CrossFit is, its exposing. It broke me down into exactly what and where I was. This is not a bad thing! We all need a humbling experience to grow and mature and CrossFit is one way to earn success by encouraging others to achieve success. We are exposed, sometimes half naked with our flaws on the floor, in states of fatigue and mental capacity that we probably don’t experience in too many other places. Some WODs are very challenging, the emotions are strong; you can feel intense euphoria and devastating frustration, sometimes all in one session. Where else can you be at your worst (sweaty and exposed) and at the very same time be at your best (accomplished and inspiring)? I just don’t know.
You may come in thinking and expecting certain things from yourself, but the truth is revealed. You will find out your exact level of fitness. I thought, I’m probably in decent shape – after the first WOD I couldn’t move for a week and my cardiovascular system had some serious catching up to do to meet the standards I had silently set for myself. I did my intros and got right into the classes. I worked hard and continued to be inspired by all the people around me. I experienced an amazing transformation in not only my body, but in my overall confidence. Those are the effects of CrossFit culture.
There is not one person who can talk me out of doing CrossFit. People will try, they’ll tell me all the ‘bad’ things about CrossFit. But they aren’t there, they aren’t with us, and they don’t know. They don’t know that we have a community, they don’t know the way we support each other with more than just CrossFit. Whether you’re struggling with a movement or plain having a bad day; the group is there to offer up a hug and a high five. CrossFit culture is not like anything I’ve experienced, it’s a safe space to take risks, to try and fail and try again. It’s a place I can be me and you can be you!