Overcoming my fear of CrossFit classes

The morning of my 48th birthday, I challenged myself to prove that I was not getting old. So, I marched myself down to a local fitness facility and joined a CrossFit class. That was over a month ago and my hamstrings are tight, my arms are sore and I am completely hooked.

I first heard of CrossFit from my best friend, Tammy. After pulling up several demos on the Internet, I was a little leery of the concept. The demos featured buff men and women doing a variety of exercises to the point of exhaustion resulting in them heaving into buckets. Was this really for me?

CrossFit instructor, Kory Wertz

My competitive nature took over and I remained curious. Up to this point my workouts consisted of jogging, sparse weightlifting and exercise tapes, but I decided I was up for the challenge. So I went online, found the class schedule at a local club in East Lansing, Court One Athletic Club, and joined the X Fit 60 class.

Arriving early for my first class, I was only mildly nervous. As I sat against the wall outside the classroom stretching, I wondered if they supplied buckets for us or if I was expected to bring my own.  My classmates started trailing in – a very muscular women who was weightlifting prior to the class, a group of six college-aged gym types, a high school friend of my 17 year-old son and then…. a couple of older people who looked like me.  That made me feel better.

I walked into the room and I saw the instructor at the front doing a handstand.  I have to say, I was impressed. Then, he started doing pushups while still in a handstand.  I was more than impressed. When a fellow classmate told me he was a cage fighter I thought, “Am I crazy?”. We began by alternating bear crawls across the floor with wall walks.  I was already breathing hard.  Then our instructor, Kory Wertz, announced, “Great warm-up, guys!”, and I thought, “Is he crazy?”. The rest of the class was a blur with burpees, loud music, sprints, squats, dead lifts and a core cash out (aka blasting your abs).  Ninety minutes later I received a high five from a stranger who said, “See you next week?”. Did I dare subject myself to this again? I purchased a class punch card from the front desk on my way out. I decided I would definitely be back.

The amazing workout and adrenaline rush aside, the reason I decided to stick with the class is because there is a sense of community from the minute you walk into class. Participants exchange facial expressions and words that convey “Here we go again!” or “Wonder what new challenge we will do today?” and, undoubtedly, “I am still sore from the last class!”. This camaraderie keeps you coming back.

Last Saturday I noticed a new person in class. I introduced myself after our warm-up and partnered with her for the main workout. Following our first set of grueling activities, I initiated a high five. She looked at me puzzled. Once she realized what I was doing, she eagerly high fived me after each set. Thirty minutes later after we had completed the grueling sets – bent over, completely out of breath with sweat dripping – she smiled and thanked me for the high fives, saying it got her through the workout. I smiled back and thought of my first day and how someone had done that for me…. paying it forward Cross Fit style.


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