I have a confession to make: In my soon-to-be-released book, there’s an essay in which I poke fun at CrossFit. You see, the salon where I get my hair cut was located next to a CrossFit place. One day, I sat in my car and observed the weirdness that is this unique exercise regimen that involves doing things like dragging metal sleighs down the middle of a parking lot or lugging around heavy body bags*. I watched, I might add, while I was scarfing down a massive burrito.
But a funny thing happened between then and now — I became one of those weirdos who regularly goes to CrossFit.
It started innocently enough. Over the summer, my friend Adrienne — literally looking for someone to share her pain — invited me to go with her to a class. Well, I admit to being cross curious.
Since my daily regimen of ellipticalling for half an hour can be so dreadfully boring that sometimes I have to do other things while I’m on the machine like paint my fingernails or bang out emails, I decided to shake up my workout a bit. I CrossFitted — and was sore for a week. My butt burned every time I squatted to sit, my abs ached. I also smacked myself in the face with a hanging ring, which stung for a good 10 minutes.
Except for the ring incident, the soreness felt pretty good. It was that feeling of “Hey! I exercised hard! Now I get to eat TWO cookies for dessert!” That is generally not a feeling that happens when I’m on the elliptical because I am not especially motivated when left to my own devices (see above confession about painting nails and emailing while, ahem, “exercising”).
But if you have to work out in front of other people, well, that is another story. Either you feel shamed into trying harder or you get competitive or, better yet, you feel buoyed by your CrossFit comrades yelling encouragement, even if it’s not always for you.**
If you promise not to tell on me, I’ll confide that on days that the WOD (this apparently means Workout of the Day and not Workout of Doom) is particularly challenging, I will revert to my old home-gym behaviors and squeeze in as many half-assed reps as possible while the coach is looking away. Some people CrossFit because they want to get stronger or meet specific fitness goals when it comes to dead lifting or jerking or kettle-belling. Me? I just would like to be able to button my skinny jeans again and not feel like the overly tight denim will guillotine my body in half. Slowly but surely I’m whittling my middle (not an easy thing to do at my age), and a really lovely bonus is the camaraderie and special bond that develops from people who are pushed to their limits again and again, kinda like a sweaty “Shawshank Redemption.”
And while I’m definitely on the more remedial end of the exercise spectrum, I am making some gains. A friend complimented me on my toned arms recently and I am getting stronger. I can feel it. In fact, while I was washing dishes the other day, I actually snapped this spoon clean in half. Go Mommy! (That makes more sense if you read the footnotes already.)
* One time I had to lug a black bag with a partner 200 meters, and while I insisted it was a body bag, the coaches said they were really filled with sand and not people parts. Still, I think mafia types would definitely benefit from this type of exercise. And probably cutting out pasta and cannolis.
**When I go in the morning there is a very dedicated mom who brings her kids, ages 2 and 4. They chill out in the play area while she kicks ass. Every once in a while they chant “Go Mommy! Go Mommy! Go Mommy!” It is the cutest and sometimes I pretend they’re yelling for me.