I drank the CrossFit Kool Aid about two years ago. I absolutely love my box, the coaches, the sport. I’m totally guilty of posting all about it on Facebook. And SnapChat. And Instagram. I buy the special shoes/socks/gear (and keep my fingers crossed that the mailman delivers them when my husband is at work), participate in competitions, obsess about macros, “follow” athletes on social media, look at the online leaderboard, check out posts from the CrossFit community; you know, all the things a normal crazed CrossFitter would do. It’s safe to say I breathe CrossFit.
So you can imagine my hurt and disappointment when someone recently said I don’t look like I do CrossFit; that I don’t look toned or muscular like a “real” athlete would.
Deflated. Insulted. Hurt. What?! But I work so hard!
Ok, so yes, oh my gosh, I definitely don’t look like Samantha Briggs. Or the Dottirs. Or any of those gorgeous ladies on posters. They are shredded and amazing. They can wear just their sports bras and booty shorts, or skimpy bikini bottoms, because they look incredible and work exceptionally hard for hours a day. And, on a side note, they can actually fill the shorts (I have always had a back with a crack, a.k.a. pancake butt, even though I keep doing All. The. Squats).
CrossFit is very much an internal battle, and we are rightfully encouraged to focus on our own path. I never ever thought, or proclaimed, I looked like the CrossFit women seen on TV and social media. I remember struggling with handstand pushups for the longest time (and still do) not only because of the movement, but because when I flipped upside down, my shirt would flare up, leaving my midsection exposed. “Aaaaahhhhh! F**k!” I would think in my head and ultimately bust out laughing, and I couldn’t focus on the movement because I was too nervous about people seeing my stomach. But I still tried, and I still considered myself an athlete.
As a stay-at-home mom who doesn’t have unlimited hours to work out each day, I am realistic about my potential. It does not mean I do not still have personal goals. For more than a year, for example, I have been trying to climb the darn rope, and I finally achieved that goal last week. I am proud that I can lift heavy, do pull-ups and double unders and continue to show up to work on all my weaknesses.
Recognizing I am not a Games-caliber athlete does not mean that I do not still work hard, or that I would be unwilling to train for hours a day…actually, that would be amazing! Yet, I have a toddler who needs my time and attention every day. I am blessed to be able to be there for him every step of the way; that is MY job, and in my son’s eyes, I’m a hero. All those beautiful CrossFit women in the spotlight have their job, and they are damn good at it and serve as an inspiration to many.
So what does a “real” CrossFit athlete look like, anyway? Let me tell you that the incredibly “jacked up” athletes seen on TV or social media are not how the majority of the CrossFit community looks like; in fact, they maybe represent 2 percent, if that…
What I love about CrossFit is that there is no single image that represents it. Kudos to the amazing, chiseled athletes who can rock WODS shirtless. Hooray as well for all the awesome CrossFit athletes out there that are working their tails off every day just to be better humans: Women of all ages and sizes. Disabled people doing muscle ups from a wheelchair. Masters-aged men doing rope climbs for the first time since middle school. Kids who are pushing their limits and learning the benefits of exercise.
This is a community, and we are all about trying to get better. CrossFit is like therapy (intense therapy that sometimes involves beautifully awful burpees). It is about progress, not perfection. Showing up each day. Putting in work. Supporting others, and also being supported. Setting PRs, and learning to embrace the days when you ride the struggle bus the entire WOD. Ultimately, we all keep going back and pushing the limits of our minds and bodies; that is what makes us earn our title as athletes.
I am so grateful for the hour I get to go to CrossFit class each day and bust my ass with friends. We are all in it together. We all just want to be better, feel better and yes, look better. Even if it means we will never look like the Rich Fronings and Julie Fouchers of the world; we don’t care.
Now I’m off to do some more squats…while holding my toddler…while figuring out what to make for dinner.