I started doing CrossFit a little over two years ago. The story of my first WOD is pretty nondescript. After years of traditional bodybuilding workouts at my local New York Sports Club I was tired of doing the same thing at the gym every day. My friends at work were constantly talking about CrossFit, so one day I pulled the trigger and made the call to set up an intro class.
Despite leaving a half hour early, I still got there ten minutes late. I was expecting something that looked like a New York Sports Club and passed the small garage housing "the box" a few times before finally figuring out that was where I was supposed to go. After a quick stretch and warmup they put me through a benchmark WOD to assess my fitness level. I had to do a 10 minute amrap of 10 pullups, 10 push presses, 40 double unders and one other movement that I can't remember. I collapsed when the timer hit zero after completing approximately three rounds. As I laid there on the floor wracked with pain and gasping for air I knew this is what I had been looking for. I was hooked.
Two Years In And Getting Stale
Fast forward two years. My life had pretty much become engulfed by this Fitness Cult. My days were planned around WODs, I got my CrossFit Level One Certificate and made a bunch of great friends. Unfortunately I had lost sight of why I had started CrossFit in the first place - to reach my true potential. After learning some of the more complex movements and hitting decent numbers on the power lifts, I settled in to what I believed was my place in the pecking order. In my mind I was a middle of the road athlete with limited upside - what you see is what you get.
Something changed at our box's big Throwdown this weekend though. The first WOD went pretty well with my partner and I finishing tire flips, thrusters and handstand pushups 7th out of a pack of 15. Decent to average, we showed competence and I was happy that we didn't embarrass ourselves.
Things changed for me in the second event. It was a modified bear complex ladder with a squat clean, shoulder to overhead, back squat and another shoulder to overhead from 165 lbs to 265 lbs in increments of 10 lbs. My partner had hurt his wrist earlier in the week so I would have to do all of the lifting for the event. Just some background, my clean form tends to get pretty dirty around 200 lbs. My back rounds, my weight gets on to my toes and things generally go to hell quickly. I had hit an ugly 225 on this lift earlier in the week, but failed at 215 a few days before. My stomach was turning thinking about trying to muscle my way through a 215 lb bear complex with dozens of people looking.
As we worked our way up the ladder, I started to feed off the energy in the crowd. I banged through the 165, 175, 185, 195 and 205 rounds like the bar was made of pvc. As I walked up to the 215 bar I started to get a bit nervous. I had just missed this lift three days earlier and wasn't sure how it was going to go. I wrapped my fingers around the bar, set my back, pulled and dropped under the bar. Easy. 225 lbs went up like it was nothing too.
At 235 I was pretty amped up. The crowd was yelling, I was yelling - I almost forgot that this would be a PR by a solid 10 lbs. A split second of self doubt evaporated as I stomped through the lift.
I couldn't quite get underneath the bar at 245 but at that point it didn't matter. I had pushed through a mental block that had been with me for months and was beyond happy.
The Truth About Gains
I realized that the only difference between all my misses at 235 lbs and the one time I made it was the crowd. There was an energy and a feeling of good will that helped me push through a wall of self doubt and reach my true potential. I now know that my idea of a place in the "pecking order" was misguided. My limitations, like a lot of our limitations, aren't physical but mental. The true ceiling on my potential is a function of how hard I want to push myself. The reality is that real gains are made when others aren't looking.
Last night was my first time back to the gym after the Throwdown. I made a conscious effort to take every part of the WOD seriously. Instead of half assing the warmup, I actually got after it at a pretty fast pace. I also raced our instructor in burpees, PR'd on my snatch and busted my ass through a WOD that would have normally been a drag. It's a bit odd, but as I type this I have the same feeling of excitement and anticipation that I did on the first day I walked in to a box. It's been a long time since I felt like that.
What will I accomplish tomorrow? I can't wait to find out.