You’d think after a year of hobbying, I would be immune to pre-hobby anxiety and intimidation. The truth is I’m not. But that’s a good thing. It means I am still exercising my mind and my muscles. It means I am still continuing to be challenged. It means I am still taking everything that I am trying–just as seriously as all those things I tried when it was simply just a project. I am still attacking life and taking chances. I am still living.
This week my pre-hobby anxiety was high. I’d signed up for a private one-on-one CrossFit session. For those that aren’t quite sure what that means–here’s one of CrossFit’s own videos:
I grew up playing sports and I even played Division 1 field hockey. I’ve dabbled in the Insanity workouts on my own time and I’ve trained for and completed two half marathons. But at all cost, I have avoided going to a personal trainer–or really letting others see me train. So the thought of letting someone train me–in addition to having a good friend standing by to help video–induced a lot of anxious feelings.
I began to think to myself:
“What if I fail? What if I am just too weak? There will be a lot of FIT people there–what will people think of me? I’m flabby and big boned–do I really belong?”
I went as far as texting my friend who does CrossFit on the regular to confide in her about my feelings.
She responded quickly:
“Google articles on being nervous for CrossFit. No one’s there to judge–everyone has to start somewhere.” -CF
She was right. So I took a breath, and I asked myself one more question:
“Why are YOU doing this?”
I gave that question a moment to sink in. I surely wasn’t doing it for all those people who would be at the CrossFit center working on their own fitness-just as they weren’t going to be doing their pull ups for me.
And then it came to me:
“I’m doing this because I can. I’m doing this because I said I would. I’m doing this because deep down inside, I know that the things that intimidate me most–are the things that are most worth facing. I’m doing this because I WANT to do this, not for anyone else–but for me–My health. My body. My life.”
I kept repeating all these answers in my head as I headed over to the Black Box on 28th Street. As I exited the elevator I walked into what appeared to be a factory of fitness. There were rings hanging from the ceiling, free weights, bar bells, kettle bells, and pull up bars everywhere. I watched as people all around the gym fiercely worked out. I watched as their muscles flexed and their sweat dripped. I could see determination in their eyes–in their focus. Instead of intimidating me the way that I had imagined it would, it motivated me.
“I can do this,” I whispered to myself.
I walked over to my coach and introduced myself.
“Hi Kyle, I’m Libby.”
He shook my hand.
“You ready?” he asked.
“Let’s do it,” I said with a new found confidence.
“Great, let’s start with a warmup. 30 seconds of jumping jacks, lunges, and 30 seconds of mountain climbers.”
I felt my muscles waking up, and the first drop of sweat fall from my brow.
Ninety seconds later, I was so focused on myself and my breathing and my own workout ahead that I had already forgotten that the gym was filled to capacity with all the other CrossFit participants. This was solely about me and my body–and about bettering myself–not anyone else.
Following the warmup, Kyle, my instructor, told me that next up would be a 10 minute repetition round–I would be doing sets of 15 squats, 10 kettle bells, and 5 pushups. The goal was to see how many rounds of this cycle, I could do and also to maintain a consistent time for how long each round took.
As I took on the first round, I felt strong. But as I transitioned into my second and third, I could feel the fatigue setting in. My arms shook, my legs wobbled, my movements slowed. But I pushed through. I didn’t let the word “can’t” enter my brain. Like the Little Engine That Could, I just kept saying, “I think I can, I think I can.”
And I did.
In ten minutes, I completed five rounds–most at around 2 minutes and 15 seconds. Kyle gave me a high five. “You moved well. Your first round was fast–because your muscles were strong. But the consistency of the last four rounds was really what we are looking for–great job!”
I took a sip of my water and I smiled.
“But we aren’t done,” he added. “We’ve got one 90 second round to go–90 seconds of burpees.”
Burpees involve a combination of a squat, a pushup, and a jumping jack.
They are kind of hell.
“90 seconds, that’s it Libs, you got this,” I cheered myself on.
That was quite possibly the longest 90 seconds of my life. As I dropped to the ground, and pushed myself back up, I could feel my body working, the sweat dripping, my heart racing. With each burpee, I felt my muscles ache. “30 seconds Libs, you’re almost there…Drop, push, Jump. 15 seconds…10…Come on…Don’t stop.”
“AND TIME!” Kyle yelled.
I picked myself up off the ground, and I raised my arms over my head. I glanced around the gym. The anxiety that I had felt just the night before was now totally gone. I smiled.
I breathed in an enormous feeling of positive self-esteem, while my legs shook with fatigue.
And I thought to myself:
“This is why I do these things. Because of THIS feeling afterwards. This feeling of accomplishment–of success. This feeling is the most rewarding feeling of all.“