Tag Archives: Crossfit

An Accomplishment

I started Crossfit back in 2009, almost exactly two months before I married Husband. This was thanks to my friend Cindy, one of my bridesmaids, whom I blame (in a positive way) for getting me started on this whole Crossfit journey. We were flying back to California from Arizona post my bachelorette weekend, and we were talking about how we had each heard of Crossfit from other people in our lives. She wanted to change up her fitness regimen, I wanted to feel strong mentally and physically heading into the wedding … and two days later, she called me to tell me that there were three possible Crossfit boxes in our area and which one would be my first choice location-wise. That was the beginning.

Now here we are, about two and a half years later, and we have since gone to a Crossfit Level 1 certification together; I have been coaching a Crossfit class up here in AK three mornings a week  since October; and she and her fiancee (an amazing guy she met through Crossfit, of course) are heading to San Diego this weekend for a Crossfit Kids certification. Did I mention that they opened their own Crossfit box last October, too?

In my own Crossfit experience, I have — thankfully — experienced a whole myriad of highs, from setting personal records in different weightlifting movements to becoming more flexible and functional in life in general and learning, period. Like making my brain understand my body better, and then getting the two of them (brain and body, that is) to do things in a coordinated way. And thinking more about how to perform movements efficiently and safely, and then trying to get so good at said movements that it looks and feels easy. Any of my Crossfit friends and colleagues (including Husband) can explain that I actually like to watch Crossfit-related videos because I like to be armed with useful information and then try to apply it and share it.

These past few months of Crossfit have probably been the most challenging for me, for a variety of reasons. A changed environment, for one. The ridiculous winter here, for another. And while I am tremendously happy to be coaching and helping other folks move forward in their respective Crossfit  journeys, it has been very difficult to still prioritize my own training, especially while working a “regular “job, too. But I would say the biggest obstacle has been my own ego. I have been guilty of being overly concerned with other people’s numbers. I have not wanted to not beat my own scores. I have been hesitant to try going heavier even though I know I need to. I have been… afraid? A little unmotivated? Both?

This morning I did the workout of the day after class was over and I was by myself in the box. That’s starting to become more usual for me, and while it can be hard to push myself, I have started to appreciate the solitude. The workout felt solid,and I felt good about my performance overall. And then I thought, I really should see if I can do those chest-to-bar pull-ups. Pull-ups are tough, one of those bodyweight gymnastics movements that may have seemed easy when you were a 40-pound child going wild at the playground monkey bars, but I can do them. Mind you, however, I haven’t attempted a chest-to-bar pull-up since a year ago, and then only because it was part of the Crossfit Games workouts. Back then I was hoping to accomplish 1 in the allotted time, and I think I managed 10 total, with a lot of crazy effort and encouragement from my coach.

All of that memory was playing out in my head, and I remember then feeling proud of myself for even being able to complete those single reps. After finishing the workout today, I figured I would test it. Just find out. Stop being afraid, tell myself yes, and try — because literally no one was watching anyway. So I tried a few practice reps standing on  a tall box to get the feel of it, kicked the box out of the way after that mini warm-up, and tried. I did one on the first attempt easily… which turned into 5 in a row. Dropped off the bar, smiled to myself, and did three more. Dropped, smiled, three more. And then I kind of smiled to myself the whole drive home.

That's not me, but that's what the bottom (hanging) and the top (chest-to-bar) of this pull-up looks like.

I needed that reminder today to show me that even when I was coming up with all these excuses for why my training hasn’t been where I thought it could be or should be, I was still growing and improving anyway. The chest-to-bar pull-ups litmus test proved that in a tangible way. Why had I waited so long to re-discover this truth?

And if that is true, then I am also reminded that even when life can present all of its challenges — from the mundane  ones to the incredibly agonizing ones — I’m still growing and building up my mental strength & flexibility anyway. Move in a new career direction? Sure. Move to AK and start a new life with Husband? Sounds do-able. Live out of boxes and in temporary spaces for a year-plus? No problem.  For me that has been the greatest gift of Crossfit, far beyond the physical benefits (which are awesome, most definitely) — I have had so much more clarity in my thinking and self-confidence in my abilities during these past two years than I ever have before, even while facing some of the harder transitions of my life and relationships.

And now I’m that much more excited to think about what my next accomplishment — be it in Crossfit or in life — may be.

I’m Not Lost

Map location of Crossfit Fairbanks

I coach a Crossfit class three mornings a week: MWF @ 6:00am. Typically this means getting my gym bag packed the night before in case I’m extra sleepy in the morning, and this allows me to start moving between 5:20 and 5:30am. If I am out the door by 5:45, I am right on time; any earlier than that is extra cushion. So imagine how pleased I was this morning to be on the road by 5:40am, given the latest rounds of snowfall these past few days. Unfortunately, as I was cruising along the highway, I ended up behind a snow plow, which was spraying plenty of snow and hindering my vision if I was within fifty feet. So in spite of knowing the road to the box (box = gym), I completely missed my exit between the spraying snow and the snow blanket covering over the normally visible exit ramp path. Being a logical person, I figured I could get off at the next exit and turn around accordingly… only the next exit didn’t come up for what seemed like a while. And when I got there, I couldn’t determine where the opposite on-ramp would be for me to backtrack where I had come from.


It was upon turning left and not seeing any other exit signs for at least another mile that I started to panic. It was snowing hard, the street lights aren’t that great, and I could feel my pulse increasing. Yes, I was starting to panic. I had to think about my “calm down” steps that I teach the elementary students! I turned off the radio, started taking deep breaths, and planned for a stop so I could get my phone out of the back. I called the head coach (who lives above the box) to tell him that I needed him to cover because I was lost and wasn’t sure when I would figure out how to get back. I finally saw a sign pointing me back the opposite direction to Fairbanks, and to my surprise, I quickly found myself passing the spot where I had turned left… and within 100 yards I saw the box. I had actually been one correct right turn away from my destination 10 minutes earlier.

What’s amusing to me now — though it wasn’t at the time — is that I’m good at visual spacing: I read maps well and usually have an easy time reversing directions, even when going to a new place. This morning my mind was in so many places — worried about the snow plow and the car behind me, not wanting to be late, feeling annoyed with myself for missing the exit — that I didn’t see the obvious solution. My first thought was that I was lost, and I was stuck in that idea until there was a lovely, large sign with the arrow to help me back.

Perhaps this is the didactic way of the Universe telling me how things work. When I have a destination or goal in mind, it’s very possible that I will drive past it and think that it has passed me by in such a way that I can’t get back to it. But even when going the “wrong” way, at the right time I’ll get a huge directional arrow — from some other life experience or encounter — that will get me back on track if I allow it. I’m not particularly good at feeling lost because I’m typically so certain about where I’m going next; yet in this case, I was nearer to where I wanted to be than I thought. I was never lost at all, in fact. To me this morning’s experience was simply one huge reminder to remain humble and to continue to trust in a Plan that is greater than any of the plans I may make. It was also a reminder to keep my goals at the forefront of my mind so I will recognize them more easily when they are within reach.

Lesson learned: I was never lost; I only took a more creative path to reach my destination.

Rah Rah Sis Boom Bah

I have been thinking about a meeting that I will have  with my principal and the Executive Director in the morning. We are going to start a conversation around staff morale — which has been noticeably low of late — and how best to address it for the remainder of the semester and into the following school year. The topic has been on my mind since we scheduled the meeting last Thursday, but I still need to do some paperwork prep for it, too.

Anyway, I watched almost all of the NFC championship game today, with the exception of overtime. By the time I stopped watching (because of an employee appreciation dinner for Husband’s work), the score was tied at 17-17. In my heart I knew that it was unlikely the 49ers would pull off the win because the momentum just hadn’t been in their favor for most of the second half. But it got me thinking a bit about Jim Harbaugh and all that he has accomplished with this team in his rookie season as an NFL coach — taking a team to 3 points shy of a Super Bowl trip ain’t too shabby. Sure he wears his heart on his sleeve — and some may find that obnoxious — but his players feel his heart and his love for them and the game. Who wasn’t moved by Vernon Davis scoring the game-winning touchdown last week and collapsing into his coach’s arms while crying in triumph and relief? I don’t think every person who has ever played a sport has had that kind of relationship with his or her coach. Jim Harbaugh believes in his team, believes they are good and will work hard to be better, believes that he has the ability to lead them. In turn, his players respond.

Last week at my 6am Crossfit class, there were only two people completing the workout — a grueling one called “Chelsea” in which the athlete is expected to perform 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups, and 15 air squats on the minute. Every minute. For 30 minutes. I had scaled it back for them to a 3-6-9 rep scheme, which allowed them anywhere from 15-25 seconds of rest per minute depending on how fast they were moving. The woman in the class made it through about 15 rounds before she said she was finished. I said, “No, you’re not. Rest for 2 minutes and jump back in.” And you know what? She did come back for another 6 or 7 rounds. The man in the class not only completed every single round, but when I called out last minute, he smiled and said, “Full round this time.” So here he was, exhausted, legs and shoulders on fire, and he was smiling and giving himself an extra challenge. I did the last round with him, and when it was over he was grinning like an idiot — as was I because I was so excited for and proud of him –and we did the super high-ten. I know that this is why I love athletics and sports in general, because there are few things more satisfying than watching people do more than they thought they ever could and push beyond physical and/or mental limits. Whatever I had been saying to him throughout the workout (“you’re going strong”/”make every rep count”/”your goal is 30 seconds per round”/etc) kept him motivated, and he knew that I knew he was going to be successful.

I will have these thoughts in mind tomorrow during my meeting. And I’ll be asking them (and myself) this question: How much do you believe in your team? Whether your team is your family, your spouse, your players, your staff, whomever… how much do you believe in them? And how much do they know that you believe in them? Because there’s no telling how much people can do and how hard they will push themselves when they can trust that their leaders are behind them 100%.