Exercise changed my mind!

I’ve always done some sort of exercise, but never really taken anything particularly seriously.  I struggled with finding motivation and commitment and then would feel bad as I watched the pounds pile on.  This created a negative cycle in my mind and had an impact on my body too.

A few years ago, I was chatting with my brother in law and he was telling me about this new gym he’d found.  Their family live several miles away so I had a look to see if there was anything similar near me.  There was, and there was a free trial session so I duly went along to Crossfit Southampton in Eastleigh.

O….M…..G!!!!!!! When I got there, I was very scared.  It was a massive, noisy warehouse, no machines, just a load of ropes, metal climbing frames, a few big balls and barbells dropping all around.  I nearly turned and walked out but I was greeted by a cheerful lady around my own age who I later found out was one of the owners.  So I stayed, I did the workout, which was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, and from that point on, was totally hooked.

I signed up for the membership the very next day and virtually lived there for two years, going almost everyday.

I was literally the worst at everything, except skipping and sit ups, but something about it kept me going back.  I worked enormously hard, inspired by the women around me who were the strongest I have ever seen.  Everyone cheers you on and even being last is an achievement, by the fact you didn’t give up.  People in Crossfit gyms really respect effort!  And, so began my obsession.

I remember my first deadlifting attempt.  I managed a very small weight, under half my body weight.  Two years later I lifted 1.5 times my bodyweight.  I went from barely being able to hold on to a pull up bar for five seconds, to being able to do two strict pull ups.

I met an amazing group of friends there and my amazing other half.

After two years, my obsession turned into curiosity about the mechanics of our bodies and the beauty of form, and I started to realise that lifting heavy wasn’t my goal anymore, movement was, so Mark and I made what felt like a heart wrenching decision, we switched entirely to Calisthenics – more on that in another post.

This journey with sport, has had much more of an impact on me than simply dropping dress sizes.  It has informed the way we eat, the approach we take to sleep and improved my overall mental health.

Crossfit taught me lessons – it humbled me every day, yet I got up to do it all over again the next day.  Because simply getting through one of those workouts is a physical and mental achievement.  The buzz that gives you is amazing.

It introduced me to so many people, when you suffer together you bond.  I remember rolling around on the floor fighting the urge to give up, next to one of my now closest friends and yelling at her to keep moving!

It taught me that I have strengths, and others have different ones.  I was often humbled by people complimenting my squat or my sit up prowess, or my ability to double under skip, all of these people were people whom I saw as “elite” but realised they, like me, have weaknesses too.

It gave me the realisation that I can endure practically anything!  Sometimes the fight to finish was not with my body but with my head.  There is a short workout called Fran, it consists of two movements, barbell thrusters and pull ups, this, like all workouts are scaled to your ability, it takes around 5 minutes to complete, but every single person hates it.  You just want it to stop right from the first round.  To be fair, most workouts did this to me.  But again, that feeling afterwards is such a reward.

It gave me confidence, which I was severely lacking, and days when my self esteem was low, I’d go and lift some heavy weights and that somehow made me strong in my head again.

It inspired me to learn more, to challenge myself, to push harder, to achieve more and frankly made me feel quite invinsible at a time in my life when I was sliding down.

Callisthenics provides this for me now, handstands are my current main project.  A few years ago,  I would have given up after a while, Crossfit taught me to never stop trying, and slowly, my handstand is improving.

I am stronger now, at forty, than I have ever been in my life.  My posture is better, which enhances my breathing which helps in everything.  I can endure a lot more mentally and push myself hard.

I still need motivating and to help with this, I always workout with Mark, and we have had a personal coach in both Crossfit previously and now Calisthenics.  I moan a lot but we laugh a lot, usually at me, but I’m good with that.  Crossfit also taught me to laugh at myself.  There are several memories I have of  our group going home with sore abs, not form the workout, but from laughing.

I progress slowly, but I progress. When I think back to when I first started Crossfit, or even when we made the switch to Calisthenics less than a year ago, the improvements are enormous.

It’s easy to forget how far we have come in any part of our lives, but I often get frustrated at my lack of progress.  In our whats app friend group, we often flip from being annoyed by our gym performance to reminding each other just how much improved we all are.  I’m not one for looking back on the past, but I know it is important to do this.  To remember how we have changed and celebrate this.

Time tends to blur all things, experiences, memories, feelings, but it is important to see back through the blur to the reality at the time.

Being committed to exercising, is being committed to yourself.  I see it as an investment in my future.  I want to be agile and pain free as I age, I want to be fit and able to move freely at 100 (lets face it, we all might live this long now).  But I want the peace and pride that it gives me in my head the most, the foundation to be healthy.