One day in March 2012, I ignored my brother’s advice (“CrossFit is for douchebags”), drove past an abandoned factory, walked through an empty room, pushed open an unlabeled door, and went looking for Greg Tymon.
Any one of those is a questionable life choice. But, as it turns out, they were my introduction to CrossFit.
In my first week, I listened aghast as I was convinced to hang from a bar suspended by a giant rubber band; I watched as a days-old infant relaxed, far more at ease than I was; and I laughed as Greg struggled to find a compliment to offer me and came up with, “You’re so… coachable!”
Today, CrossFit Advanced has its own front door. It’s one of the places I love most in the world. The people in it are some of my favorite people. And I know that that compliment is one of the best I’ve ever gotten.
What it means is, while I might never be the best, I can always be the one trying the hardest to improve. As a perfectionist who’s always gravitated toward what comes easily, that is a huge mental shift.
It is okay to be terrible. It isn’t okay to let that stop me.
A lot has happened since that day. Back then, I was in a job I wasn’t right for. It was a misplaced role and I was misplaced in it. I was unknowingly getting sicker. I was depressed and struggling. There was a cancer diagnosis. There was a layoff.
It wasn’t awesome, if I’m honest.
But through it all, this weird new family were some of the most supportive people in my life. I’ve cried many times because of a workout, but many more times because these Type-A, obsessive, addictive, passionate lunatics loved me more than I ever expected.
It hasn’t been perfect. I had a body to fix. I had a career to reshape. With a decade of martial arts training behind me, I struggled with feeling torn, balancing what little free time I had between two families – but I’ve been lucky enough that “family” really has been the right term in both cases. And I’ve listened to every last variation on a backhanded compliment you can think of regarding martial arts or weightlifting. My least favorites, all of which I’ve heard many, many times:
- “I did that when I was a kid.” Subtext: grow up.
- “I bet you can kick my ass.” Subtext: you’re not feminine enough for me.
- “That’s a lot of time to spend working out.” Subtext: you don’t look it – and/or – you must not have much else.
By many standards, the progress I’ve made has been glacial, full of pauses and backslides and frustration. But it’s progress. Over and over, in tiny ways and big ones, I push past limits I never used to even reach toward, and today, my life has a shape I never expected. I love what I do, where I live, who I spend my time with, and who I am. Sometimes I even like how I look. All in all, I am so blessed that it terrifies me.
I’m stronger. I’m faster. I’m fitter. I’m HERE. And goddammit, I’m coachable. And I’m so, so grateful that I know it.