The Older Woman’s Guide to CrossFit Part 7

Post image for The Older Woman’s Guide to CrossFit Part 7

These are my notes from my efforts, as a 49 year-old woman, to join the paleo hipsters by trying CrossFit. 🙂 It’s a sort of journal. I don’t know how it will develop, what will happen, it’s just a stream of consciousness as I go through the process that you are welcome to follow along with if you wish.

Back to the Beginning

Read about the previous session

The decision

To sign, or not to sign, that’s what I pondered. I waffled and waxed and ruminated and flipped and flopped over my decision whether to sign up for CrossFit. Honestly, you’d have thought it was some major life-changing decision, the thought that I was putting into it.

Before the fundamentals course ended I’d expected to sign up. Then two days after I’d finished the course, I’d decided I’d probably do it, but only take the classes run by the coach who’d run the fundamentals until I’d worked out the lay of the land. The day after that I decided against signing up at all. By lunchtime, I changed my mind again.

Unusual

I am not normally so indecisive. My initial concerns – the cost, the traveling time – I’d talked myself into. So what was going on?

Well, my shoulder was still aching, waking me up at night. Ultimately, it took five days to calm down. I’ve already mentioned my attitude to injuries so that bothered me and, well, it was unpleasantly painful.

I was also concerned about stress. I’d been pretty swollen the whole course and I knew that this process was putting my body under some decent duress. I’m not a fan of constantly elevating cortisol, it leads to burnout especially in middle-age, something I’ve also written about in the past.

Like my family

I didn’t really get a sense of the “CrossFit family” thing while I was there, not even among the regulars. It’s not something that is important to me particularly – I’m mostly an introverted loner, holed up at home, intrinsically motivated, happy not speaking to anyone for days, if necessary – but still, that was missing and rightly, or wrongly, I was left with the impression that my local box was pretty hardcore.

“I have a brain tumor, what’s your excuse?”

That was the tagline for one of the box’s owners. Nice guy, impressive credentials, and I don’t wish to undermine his achievements, but it’s a message that doesn’t work for me. (It would have when I was younger, however)

Hard men

I’d discovered that the hard men I’d seen working out during the day at my local box, when I’d expected to see women and retirees, were, in fact, cops and firefighters (this box had a special deal for emergency personnel), so I’d made a mental note to avoid those times.

I know, I know, you’re supposed to “leave your ego at the door” but I really didn’t want to be swapping weights on and off with someone who could run the 400m warm-up with me over his shoulder without catching a breath. Embarrassing. Besides, it would simply take ages.

So what with avoiding early morning (breakfast/school drop-off), dinnertime and some daytime classes, I wasn’t left with too many class options.

I looked into attending another box but it was completely mom-unfriendly, only having classes at breakfast time and dinner, nothing at all during the day. Other boxes were too faraway. If CrossFit wants to attract more clients, the ones in my area, at least, are missing a marketing trick here.

Billy-no-mates

Finally, the lack of a peer group bothered me. As I said, I am pretty independent. I am happy to join a group by myself, I don’t need a friend, but I doubt there was another mom in the place. There was certainly no sign of another woman within two decades of my age during the time I was there.

But still…

…Perhaps I was wrong and I should give it a shot. That was what I was telling myself. I was set to go the next day. And then something happened to completely change my mind.

Apples and bags

My laptop needed surgery and while the geniuses at Apple were performing their operation, I took a walk over to the Nordstrom make-up counters. I was asked if I’d like my make-up done and as I had some time to kill (and frankly looked a right state), I gladly sat down to be transformed into the beauty I knew I could be if only I had the right tools. 🙂

I sat there for ages while the make-up artist kept dabbing around my eyes. Minutes and minutes went by. In the end, with some exasperation, I asked her what she was doing, and picked up a mirror to look. She’d spent all that time trying to cover up my under-eye circles! And in that moment, my decision was made.

I was too tired. I knew it, but I’d kept pressing on. I didn’t need another project. I needed quite the opposite. I needed some rest. I dropped the ambivalence immediately. I did not sign up. Now is not the time.

Learnings and ponderings

It was the right decision for me. I don’t mean to be negative about CrossFit. I don’t want to give the impression that CrossFit isn’t great for those whom it is right for. I’ve heard from so many who are older, who initially thought it wasn’t for them, that they love it! There were just too many negatives for me, right now.

No projection

I do think if you’re interested, you need to try it with an open mind and go from there. Everyone is different. Seems like boxes are different, too. *Don’t project my experience on to your situation.*

Either way

That principle works the other way around, too. CrossFitters are very enthusiastic about their sport I’ve found, but evangelizing about CrossFit by implying that because you love it, others will too, is like evangelizing about paleo; it turns people off. Your experience isn’t mine, and vice versa. Some CrossFitters need to respect that. It’s about boundaries.

Gains

I lost inches during the month, even when I measured while still swollen. I’ve returned to at-home workouts and done them with an intensity and level of strength I didn’t have before (and a tolerance for sweat like never before!) I continue to do push-ups daily and I’ve bought a number of exercise toys with which to build my upper body strength. The general swelling went down with a long T-Tapp session and an even longer magnesium scrub bath.

I learned *a lot* about different upper body exercises during the three weeks I was there, and, as I wrote down all the WODs, can recreate a lot of them at home. I bought bands to assist with pull-ups because I am determined to be able do them and am excited to think they are now a possibility.

I even looked at buying a training bar. I enjoyed the feeling of lifting weights, made me feel powerful, and reviewing my future options to continue that is on my list.

CrossFit family?

My husband has signed up for CrossFit in August. I think he’ll enjoy it. Maybe we’ll go as a couple, eventually.

So there we have it: some practical considerations, an emotional disconnect and concerns about stress and injury. After all is said and done, I’m totally glad I tried it. Before I had no concept of it and couldn’t visualize what it was when others talked of it. My curiosity has been satisfied.

Burning a hole in my pocket

And what did I do with my now “spare” $180? The money I’d budgeted for my next month? Hmm, well, the make-up lady got some of it. Let’s just say I nearly called this post, “Why I Gave Up CrossFit and Bought a Bunch of Make-Up Instead”.