Monday, February 25, 2013

new forms of exercise

10 years ago (this summer), I took up running. At first, it was a few laps, then it was a mile. Then a few miles. Then I ran 5ks, then a 10k, then a half-marathon. Then I was a running crazy person.  Finally, I ran a marathon (a year ago today), and sealed my identity as a runner.  I am a runner.

10 years is a long time, and it wasn't until like, last week that it struck me that I've been running for 10 years. Wow.

In all that time, though, I haven't ever stuck with any other exercise consistently. I dabbled in yoga (still try to), I took swim lessons (have been trying to swim a bit more lately). I ride my bike, but usually just to get me from A to B. Running is the only thing that really stuck, though, and it's what helped me maintain an over-50 lb weight loss for the past 10 years (yep!)  I know that I need to cross-train, to strength-train, to really be at peak fitness, but I've never found anything else like running. Something that really clicked.

Today, I have begun to take up a new form of exercise, and it's one I hope will stick.  I started my Foundations class for CrossFit. When LS took up CrossFit a year ago, I listened with awe, skepticism, and a smidgen of envy.  She was very fit and strong, and I...well, I could barely do push ups.  But listening to how much she loved it stuck with me.

At the beginning of January, I decided to do Jillian Michael's Ripped in 30 DVD.  At first it was hard.  I called her an evil bitch.  Then I started noticing definition not only on my arms, but on my abs, butt, and all other places. What? Better yet, I was stronger and felt stronger.  I was hooked.

Last week, then, I sent an email to LS asking if she'd take me with her to do CrossFit. Yes!!! she said, enthusiastically.  She was excited to share something she loved so much with someone new.

I went to gym, expecting to be surrounded by burly dudes flexing their beefy arms, but that wasn't the case. There were lots of women, all shapes and sizes (some super fit and muscular, some who looked more like me!). The atmosphere was relaxed. It was so much better than the school gym I had just been at earlier that day, where tons of coltish, waifish girls with long pony tails and baggy shirts bounced by, sweat-free after their turn on the elliptical, while I stank and sweated and dripped after my 4 miles on the treadmill. I slunk out, avoiding eye contact, feeling a little out of place.

This gym, it was a different place. No one was made up; everyone was there to work, and work hard. I felt bad because I was doing a baby workout, so I was barely sweating as the others collapsed to the floor, drenched.  Not only that, the workouts were lively and fun. No time to get bored when you're counting and trying to get as many reps out as possible in 8 minutes!

LS and her boyfriend came over for dinner afterwards, and I gushed. I really liked it, and I wanted to keep doing it.

That brings me to today: my first Foundations class. Before they turn you loose to do the regular workouts, because there's lots of complicated moves and form is so key to not getting hurt, they ask everyone to do a 2 week class. Since I'm risk-adverse by nature, this was right up my alley.  I gathered with other new CrossFitters and learned that today, we would be learning one of the most complicated moves in CrossFit: the power clean.  (Not my first day!) It's a move with a bar, where you pop the bar up and snap your wrists underneath...well, just check out the link (not as much squatting in CF).

We did them over and over again, and at first it was weird and awkward and I was too tentative and kept overthinking it all.  When we did our mini-workout at the end (power clean practice and jumping lunges or "nasties"), I started to get the feel for how to use the motion from popping my hips and kind of coming up on my toes to get the bar up, and then to snap my wrists into the final position.  I think I'll let it sink in a bit, and see what happens--it's probably something that takes a while to really fully get, but I think I'm starting to.

I hope it's not a crazy thing to get into. But after the class, I got to talking to one of my fellow newbies, and she was super cool. Everyone I've met seems really nice and encouraging. And I think that I'm going to really enjoy adding it to my running.

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