CrossFit: From Game Changer To Life Changer…And Don’t Forget The Bananas

I’m not going to lie. I came to CFCB with a little bit of a chip on my shoulder because I’d worked with personal trainers for the previous 5 years and was familiar with a lot of the movements. I also brought with me an immeasurable amount of fear and anxiety about walking into a new place with new people. I placed an unrealistic amount of pressure on myself to “earn” my spot at CFCB quickly. Holy shit has this experience been humbling. It took me 6 full months to let go of everything I just mentioned. All of the ideas I had about what CF should be, all of the expectations I had about my performance level and where it should be, and most importantly, my thoughts on earning a spot here? I didn’t need to earn a spot at CFCB, I was welcomed wholeheartedly. It didn’t take me long to realize that what I’ve been missing in my fitness journey is a sense of community, a sense of belonging, and that feeling you get when you’re surrounded by like-minded people that want to see you succeed just as much as they want to succeed themselves. That’s my favorite part, watching these athletes work hard and train and succeed every single day. Every damn day. It’s inspiring. It makes me want to work harder, get stronger, and be better. My time spent in personal training is what started me on this path and it certainly helped prepare me for CrossFit. But I learned some hard truths when I made the switch. 

Number one being that I needed to start from scratch and learn how to do all of this on my own without someone holding my hand or constantly reminding me about barbell hand placement or loading the weights for me or counting reps for me. I needed to find my own motivation, develop my own discipline, and learn good form. These are all things I work on daily and mess up daily and then work on some more. I was asked a question the other day “what would you tell your beginner self?” My answer was to not be so scared of failure. I have failed at just about everything I’ve tried to do here. But I can honestly say that each one of those failures have brought me closer to achieving my goals. I’ve earned a number of small successes and maybe even a couple big ones! Many of those have been my own internal battles that have required me to shift my thinking and the way I see myself to something much more positive. I’ve started to win these battles more often. 

I’ve had a lot of firsts here. I ran my first 5k. I did my first strict pull-ups. I strung together my first 5 kipping pull-ups. I did my first handstand push-ups (scaled - but I don’t care, I still did them) and I learned not to totally hate burpees (did I just say that?). I also learned that I should eat more bananas. What’s really crazy is that a lot of these firsts came during the Open. 19.1 and 19.2 kicked my ass. I am not a strong rower and I am not strong with the barbell. I wondered what I’d gotten myself into and if the Open was going to chew me up and spit me out along with any positive feelings I had about myself and my abilities. I went into 19.3 saying I was just going to try (and then I ate a banana for breakfast). I was going to scale it and I was just going to spend the time getting as many reps as possible. That’s it. Then I got my first handstand push-ups (scaled). Who knew?! 19.4, same mindset and another banana and then I strung together my first kipping pull-ups without the little stutter step in between each one. Who knew?! I went into the Open looking for an accurate measurement of how much work I needed to do. I never expected it to also reflect the work I have done already! Maybe the Open is a unicorn that sprinkles the dust of the souls it’s claimed onto those that dare to register and magical things happen. Just kidding, that’s weird. But maybe the Open is a place where we learn things about ourselves, we didn’t know before. Maybe we do things we didn’t realize we could do. Maybe that’s what CrossFit is too. A place where you lose the chip on your shoulder, and you let go of unrealistic expectations, and you allow yourself to become part of a community, and you show up, and do the work. Then you get to find your own magic and learn new things about yourself. Maybe you even bring coffee to in-house competitions because you like being around these people at this place and watching amazing things happen! 

I still get nervous every time I pull into the parking lot but I no longer sit in my car wanting to puke because I’m scared to walk through the door. Now I walk in knowing that I’m a little bit better than I was yesterday but that I still have so much more to learn. That’s one of the greatest things about CrossFit; it never ends. You never stop learning. You never stop getting better. You never run out of things to work on, or work for, or work towards. Maybe CrossFit is whatever you make it. Maybe CrossFit is the best hour of your day. Maybe CrossFit is a game changer in the way you approach fitness. Or maybe, if you take everything you learn and do inside the box and apply it to everything you learn and do outside the box, CrossFit becomes a total life changer.

Nicholas Beal