The Older Woman’s Guide to CrossFit: Part 4

crossfit, women, kettlebell

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. I’ll try over time to include some pictures.

Back to the Beginning

Read about the previous session

CrossFit Session 5

I really, really, r-e-a-l-l-y didn’t want to go today. It was the first thing I thought about when I woke up and I winced. All day I’ve been crabby. My ankles hurt, my shoulders ache, the wrist I broke a couple of years ago was twinging. I had a headache. I had to call in a favor from a friend to get the boys picked up from their activity, the traffic was too heavy, the sun was too shiny, moan, moan, moan.

And so it went on, until suddenly it hit me! I am at the bottom of the learning curve. The point of conscious incompetence. The time when we get tired, depressed, hopeless and feel a deep-seated urge to bail on whatever it is we are learning. I’ve written a book about it for crying out loud. Doh!

Once I realized what was going on, my resolve deepened. Because this is the point that you just have to press on. Get yourself back on the wagon and carry on. As I always say, keep on, keepin’ on. (If you want to learn more about this, you can download a free section from the book that includes an explanation here.)

The class

So I joined the keen kids warming up in the corner. Rowing, push-ups, pole twirly things, downward dog and forward somethings for warm-ups then we moved on to, crikey, handstands and headstands.

There’s always a point in these CrossFit classes that a little shiver of fear goes through me when a new move is explained, and as I haven’t done a handstand in, ooh, forty years, this was today’s point.

I have never achieved a headstand, ever, not even at nine years old, and I doubted that tonight was going to be the night I was going to break through that barrier. But I would try…

…I did my best, and resolved to practice at home.

The WOD today was a 400m run, and 15 each of kettlebell swings, wall balls (weighted balls thrown up to a line on the wall) and knees to elbows (hanging off a bar, we had to bring our knees up to our elbows…or do the best we could), followed by a second 400m run.

Tabata is NOT a greek appetizer

I thought that was easy (as in I wasn’t convinced I was about to take my final breath) until I realized that we still had time for a tabata. I’d heard of these but had no idea what they were: eight rounds of twenty seconds of activity followed by ten seconds of rest.

The other women chose to do handstands while the men and me substituted with dumbbells. By the end of the tabata, however, all but one were doing dumbbells – those handstands are tough on the shoulders.

The emotional process of learning

I worry that I sound grumpy and negative to those reading my updates. I write them as soon as I get back from the class, still sweating, my kids starving for their dinner, but keen to get down my thoughts before they leave my mind.

Please know that if I do, it is part of a process. One that many of us go through when we are learning something that is difficult for us. This isn’t a reflection of CrossFit per se, it is a reflection of the difficulty in mastering a new skill. Especially one we are not talented in, or where many years of alternate habit or development have taken place.

Changing eating habits, kicking sugar, building strength from a point of weakness, these are difficult for me, and for many others. And yet other skills (like writing) are a cinch. We are naturally talented in some areas more than others and find it easier to build skills in those areas.

But when we are struggling to master something, it is normal that we resist, get depressed, our confidence gets shaky, and our usual positive outlook can cloud over for a while.

The important thing at this point is to hang on, get through it, weather the storm, put one foot in front of the other. And we need to use humor, gratitude, reflection, pure grit, the support of others, whatever is available to us to power ourselves out of our comfort zone and through the rocky middle ground. 

Eventually, points of learning will mesh together and become a whole, a skill will appear, often as if from nowhere, and confidence will be restored. It may take a long time for some and there will always be someone stronger, harder, smarter, that’s just how it is. But our comfort zone will be bigger, our confidence stronger, our self-respect deeper. And therein lies progress.

(Again, if you want to download a free section from my book, The Modern, No-Nonsense Guide to Paleo which talks about the process of learning and the emotional transition from unconscious incompetence through to unconscious competence, you can do so here.)

Read about what happened next…