It was early 2012. I had just finished my accountancy training, and I was beginning to realise that I couldn’t ignore my health and fitness, or lack thereof, for much longer. I made a decision to join the gym. I was determined to get fit and I also wanted to take swimming lessons for the first time. So I went and bought my new trainers, some “active wear”and signed up at my local hotel gym. I was all set, or so I thought.
I was not one bit prepared for how intimidated I was about to feel. I was over weight, out of shape and had never lifted a weight in my life. I had literally no idea what I was doing. I was sure everyone was looking at me and they could tell I didn’t belong there. So, I did what many others in the same situation do, I turned my attention to the fitness classes. I tried everything on offer from aquafit to Zumba and I loved it all. It was a really safe and non judgmental environment in which to start getting fit.
The months passed and I starting feeling like I wanted more of a challenge. Something different to push me further, so I joined a Strength and Conditioning gym and began doing Crossfit style training. I was instantly in love. The challenge and sense of community were exactly what I had been seeking. The fact that it was progressive was absolutely perfect. There seemed to be no limit to how much you could achieve with your fitness with this type of training. You guessed it, there’s a BUT coming.
I kept getting injured. Nothing major, just little knocks and niggles. Mostly in my knees and hips. All fairly minor and things, which in my mind, I could “train around.” I got into a cycle of injury, rehab and physio, full training, injury… Eventually, about a year ago, I asked my coach to refer me to a good physio, enough was enough. The guy was amazing, and for the first time I was getting answers as to why my body kept on breaking. He told me I have hyper mobility. What this basically means is I have no stability in my joints. He told me in no uncertain terms that I am not strong enough to do Crossfit safely.
It took many, many months of banging my head against a brick wall before that message eventually sank in. Months spent having to modify workouts and feeling heart broken watching my peers across the gym doing what I so desperately wanted to be doing. Months of promising myself that I would eventually get back to it. Months of beating myself up for not being able to compete. I hasten to add that during this time my coaches were phenomenal. They truly did all they could for me, and never made me feel like I was a problem child. The pressure I felt was purely coming from within.
I was also having an insanely busy time both in work and out of work. Just making it to the gym was a challenge. Classes were on the hour and a five minute delay would leave me scuppered. Each time I would get back there I would say to myself “Okay Arwen, 5 sessions next week, no excuses!” Monday would come and I would be buried in the office and not make it to the gym. I had failed the week already! Ironically, it was hearing myself say something to other people, which eventually made the penny drop.
I was giving a presentation to a corporate group, and I was telling them about the importance of exercise. I heard myself saying “you don’t need to do Crossfit, you don’t even need to join the gym, you just need to get the body moving!” Suddenly it dawned on me. I had been so attached to the idea of being a “Crossfitter” and so unwilling to let it go, that I was standing in the way of my own fitness. I realised I needed to let go of my ego. It was not serving me, and it was making me crazy. I needed to take a fresh approach.
It was not an easy decision. It was hard not to feel like I was admitting defeat. I love Crossfit and I wondered could I even watch the events now without feeling like a fraud. But at 35 years old, I need to be moving in a way which neither damages my body nor causes stress to my mind. Eventually, I made the decision to return to my local hotel gym. Five years later, I was going back to where it all began.
It has been about a month and I have been taking all the fitness classes again, HIIT, TRX and of course Zumba. It took me no time at all to remember how much I loved these classes. I love Zumba so much in fact, that I took the instructors course last week (more on this in a future post.) It is such a relief to get a sweat on without getting stressed out. It has also been a great revelation to me that sometimes going full circle is not the same as going backwards.
I am not saying I will never try Crossfit style training again, but for the moment I am happy enough to be moving and letting someone else do the thinking. I can’t believe I allowed the fantasy of doing Crossfit become more important to me than the reality of actually training. When I started writing this blog, I made a commitment to being as honest as I possibly can. Sometimes this is going to mean admitting I was wrong, this is definitely one of those times. It feels very fitting that I should talk about this now, in my 100th post. If we are lucky in life we will always be learning. Sometimes the teacher will be yelling at us, but we just are not quite ready to hear it. What this has taught me, eventually, is that if something isn’t working for you, change it. This doesn’t make you a quitter and it doesn’t mean you have failed. All it means is that you have learned to invest your energy where it will serve you best. Be well xxx