On becoming an athlete

(Originally posted privately on 24 January 2011. Note: While this is a pretty old post, I thought it might still be relevant to some readers. I find that there is a connection between calling oneself an athlete—or writer or artist or whatever—and becoming one. I think that one helps the other, mentally, at least, and this post explains my journey to labeling myself as such.)

Around the time I accepted I might be an athlete. Or athlete-ish.
Around the time I accepted I might be an athlete. Or athlete-ish.

Around November 2010, I had my first Elements class at Albany Crossfit. I have never, ever, ever enjoyed exercising, and I would never call myself an athlete. I was the person who always tried to make working out fun by using Latin dance workout DVDs or by walking the dog. I avoided gyms like the plague, always shamed by my body, and never wanting people to look at the fat girl on the elliptical (which is SO boring, anyway!).

I had also given up on dieting and working out (Note: Let me make the distinction between working out and being active. I have made a concerted effort since last year to be more active—i.e., hiking, kayaking, camping, etc.—which I set apart from actually working out). Then I got in a pretty nasty car accident last summer. As a result, I began seeing a massage therapist and a chiropractor. Well, lo and behold, the more I went to the chiropractor, the more I saw certain people. Who happened to be Crossfitters—the owner and the coaches, to be exact. Each time they saw me, they encouraged me to go in, and I always nodded with intentions not there. Finally, my chiropractor’s sister (also a Crossfitter) tied me down and had me go with her.

I remember the first time I went, it was basically a personal-training session. Leb had me warm up by riding a stationary bike as fast as I could for one minute. I knew something was wrong when I could barely finish. I knew something was wrong when I could only do a few sit-ups without stopping, and when I flat-out couldn’t squat without a 24-inch box beneath me. It was hard.

I can’t say I was hooked at first. And I can’t say that I even liked it at first. The workouts can be incredibly brutal, and they always push your physical and mental limits. But something inside of me eventually got hooked. (Now I’m always on their website, looking forward to the next day’s WODs—i.e., the Workout of the Day.) All I can say is that I’ve finally found a workout regiment that I can commit to, and it’s way more intense than the workouts most of my friends or family do.

For me to commit to something like that, I have to stay motivated. This place has it built right in. The coaches encourage you and give you high-fives, tell you they love you, and give you hugs. The community is incredibly supportive and accepting, and will always cheer you on. I guess that’s what I really need; after all these years of avoiding places with people, it’s what’s going to help me get up in the morning and face another crazy WOD.

I always feel like people think I’m contrived when I talk about how much I love my gym (what kind of fat girl talks about a gym??), but I do it anyway. Even on day one, when I couldn’t even complete a mini-WOD, my coach called me an athlete. I guess that’s just how we have to start thinking about ourselves—as athletes—and then we’ll start treating ourselves like one.

xo,

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Danielle

Exuberant photographer, artist, writer, designer, wannabe chef, and Crossfitter.

4 thoughts on “On becoming an athlete”

  1. I feel the same way about running. I have never once called myself a runner, but last summer while I was doing the Couch 2 5K program I became one.

    Sure, I ran when I played soccer…I even ran “for fun” after I stopped playing any sports. I started running a few years after that with some Cross Country friends (I wasn’t on the team NOOOO, they were and they were good for pushing me). I never really liked it though. It was always work, and I never got into “the zone”.

    I’m not sure why last year was different. It wasn’t easy, but it felt right somehow. I was able to be alone with my thoughts (the same way I used to get while hiking). I would just zone out and run.

    While I’ve been lazy and over the winter, the few times I’ve ran so far this spring have been better than expected. I’m happy to admit that I still like it!

    Sorry for the tangent, I just relate to how you feel so much 🙂

  2. I bought a t-shirt at one of our box events and, on the back, in big block letters…ATHLETE. I feel so weird (yet wonderful) every time I wear it!

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