Wednesday, February 11, 2015

This morning as I read my gyms blog post about The CrossFit Games Open this year I felt a twinge of being left out and some nostalgia.  
I participated in the Open in 2011 through 2013 but last year I did not.  Many of the members at the gym where I coach weren't around back when I " did the Open." Back when I "did CrossFit."  I have wanted to write about why I don't do CrossFit for awhile and with the Open approaching it was a good time to share my story with my community. 
CF Games Open 2013
CF Games Open 2012
CF Games Open 2011

The first thing you should know is that CrossFit irrefutably changed my life…more so than any thing ever has.  In 2009 when I walked through the doors of CrossFit King of Prussia I weighted 320lbs, I had never played a sport, I had never touched a barbell and I couldn't do much of anything without assistance. I walked through those doors, despite millions of reasons I could not have because when I heard about CrossFit my gut told me "go."  When my institution speaks like that, I listen.
"My first CF Pic"
I fell in love with CrossFit immediately.  I couldn't jog 400 meters without stopping in the warm ups but I felt more alive than I had ever before.  Thanks to Aimee and Jason Lyons and the community that they had created, I was challenged to do things everyday that I never thought possible.  I fell in love with intensity and also the barbell.
Being "big" the barbell stuff came much easier than the body weight stuff.  But the gods honest truth is that I loved the workouts with all the body weight stuff that I sucked at more than the ones that I was good at.  It was that feeling of overcoming something hard, I loved that. I didn't avoid what was hard for me I embraced it. 
One of the things I became enchanted with was the Olympic lifts, especially the snatch.  You would think I would love the deadlift as it has always been my claim to fame, but the truth is it never made me excited like the snatch did.  Even though many factors limited my ability to do the Olympic lifts well, I was enthralled with them.
Back in late 2013 I was having a ball doing CrossFit, adult gymnastics classes and yoga regularly. I had always wanted to work with a real Olympic lifting coach on my technique, so I decided to add a lifting practice to the mix.  I was adamant to the first coach I worked with that I did not wish to compete.  I wanted to keep doing CrossFit and just work on my technique.  That was until I met my current coach Mike McKenna.  
 Although I still did not want to give up CrossFit, the more I worked on my lifts with Mike, the more I fell in love with lifting.  Before I knew it, I had dreams of qualifying for things and was signed up for my first meet.  I began training, and slowly did less and less CrossFit.  
"Doing the 5 Ton 5K (without walking)"
There are several reasons why that is.  The number one reason was time…as much as I would have liked to devote my whole day to my fitness my husband and children demand otherwise.  I had a hard time fitting my weightlifting programming in, let alone a WOD as well.  But the other big reason is that through lifting I discovered I had some real problems with my body  that demanded my attention.  I decided I could not afford to reinforce my bad movement patterns any longer.  CrossFit demands Mechanics, consistency, intensity.  However, I had in many ways skipped over mechanics.  I'm not saying that my coaches left me lift with atrocious form, because at my gym we care about doing it right. To an extent I was doing things correctly, but after building a base line of fitness there were some significant holes in my mechanics. There  are other reasons why doing most WOD's became challenging like not wanting to be too sore or to over tax my Central Nervous System but honestly that was secondary.
 No longer doing CrossFit or taking classes with my community on a regular basis  was very difficult for me and It wasn't something that happened overnight.  I'm a pretty loyal person when it comes down to it…and I owed so much to CrossFit, making the choice to focus on lifting was a hard one, especially as a CrossFit Coach. But just like I had followed my gut into the doors of CrossFit…my gut told me weightlifting was going to teach me the next lessons I needed to learn.
Once again following my intuition out of my comfort zone led me to something that has changed me for the better. I am better in every way for the choice I have made to be a weightlifter, just as I was when I made the choice to be a CrossFitter.
 This year I won't be doing the Open with my CrossFit family. At this point I cannot offer my athletes "CrossFit camaraderie," even if it makes me a little sad. Even though I'd love to lie on the floor with them after a hard workout, I won't.   
 I may not have the CrossFit experience in common with those I coach anymore (but believe me I have experienced it all.) However what I do have in common with my athletes is way more important than that.
There is a saying "don't wish it was easier, wish you were better."  Although at first glance it may seem choosing weightlifting is about making it easier for me, but that couldn't be farther from the truth.   Being a weightlifter is about me becoming the best version of my self and that is what we are all trying to do.

White Rose Open 2014
 As a coach its my job to encourage my athletes to make the hard choices to be better too.  There are is no one  right answers or one size fits alls when it comes to what that means. My greatest wish is that I will help my athletes discover what they must do in order to be better and support them in every way that I can.
As CrossFit Games Season kicks off, I know my support will include some intense cheering during the Open.  I also know that some of my CrossFit Athletes might be on the fence about signing up for it. If that's you, making that choice might mean stepping through fear, through the unknown or even self doubt.  The choice might be uncomfortable…but you should ask  yourself  "might I be better for having done it? " If the answer is yes, than the choice (although not easy), is clear.   

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Stephanie, I'm glad to see you posting again! Enjoyed reading about your experience with Crossfit.