When I first started Crossfit, I went to the CTOWN location in Cleveland, OH. Like many Crossfit Gyms, they have programs to ‘try’ Crossfit before committing. CTown’s is called ‘FitCon’ and I will never forget the first day I attended.
When I was younger, I was insanely active with dancing and walking and playing around with friends. I started to gain weight in College when tests were more important (and a better excuse) than working out. For years, I tried everything you can think of. Running, Paleo, Atkins, Workout Videos.
Laura and Justin, some friend of mine in Cleveland, had been at Crossfit for sometime. I was really interested in it but wasn’t sure if I wanted to go all in before trying it. Luckily, I was in on a Tuesday when FitCon was happening. We drove to the gym and I can remember how nervous I was to be surrounded by people who were in way better shape than I was. I remember how disappointed I was in my body. What if people made fun of me? What if people mocked how I looked? What if they found out I had been overweight for years and was now just doing something about it?
My palms were pure sweat as I sat in the back of Justin’s car. I made nervous talk and how excited I was. I was excited but I was terrified.
We got out of the car and went into the box. Everyone they introduced me to was really nice and very welcoming. No one was mean or cruel. No one treated me differently than they did Justin and Laura. We milled around for a few minutes before Laura took me over to FitCon. That’s when I met Carl.
Carl is one of the toughest coaches I have ever come across. I walked up to him and waited for him to finish his conversation. He talked about how earlier an athlete came in drinking a Starbucks Frappachino. Even with how unhealthy I was, I knew exactly how bad those were for you.
He then asked her, ‘How many calories is that Frappachino?’. She responded with, ‘I don’t know? 350 calories?’
‘Row for 350 calories.’ He said with a smile.
shit. I am going to die.
Carl looked at Laura and looked me up and down. I was frozen. This man’s biceps were as big as my head. He smiled and introduced himself and I felt better. He also explained Laura couldn’t just leave me but had to do FitCon with me. This was amazing as I didn’t know if I could do it on my own.
In the hot heat of July, we stretched. We ran. We did some light work with no equipment.
When I say we ran – we kept running. My legs felt like trees. I could barely get the breathing down. But, Laura and Justin were there with me. They light jogged with me. Laura pushed me and challenged me.
When we got to the last half, we had to do 100 flutterkicks and 50 sit ups. I could barely do 20 by the time Carl called time. For a moment, I wanted to cry.
How embarrassing. They’re situps and I can’t even finish this. Jesus.
I looked over at everyone else in the class and saw how quickly they got through 50 situps. But, that was the moment that I felt good. I started to feel physically better with each movement. It wasn’t a lot of work, mind you, but it was something.
“Get a rower.” Carl yelled, cranking up the music.
Laura helped me get one after I fumbled with it for too long. Laura didn’t once make fun of me. Neither did the rest of the class.
“Everyone. Row for 600 meters. Meredith — ” My blood ran cold. Was he going to kick me out? Did I screw up? Did he know that I was struggling? “I’ll tell you when you’re done.”
This was my first time rowing ever. If you ever want to know what I looked like, picture a monkey on a rower. Barely able to grasp the concept of rowing. Unable to formulate the process. But, I did it.
Everyone finished before me and Carl stood behind me to correct my form so I didn’t injure myself.
“Come on, girl!” He yelled with excitement. “Keep going! You got this!”
That’s when Laura and Justin cheered for me. I got a boost of energy and finally completed what Carl wanted. After I caught my breath, I thanked Carl with a shaky voice. He smiled and we parted ways.
I remember that evening we went to our favorite dive bar and I wouldn’t shut up about it. We had non-Crossfit friends show up and while I am sure they heard it a hundred times before, they were going to hear it again.
I called my husband. I gushed. I asked if he would try it with me when I got back to Chicago. If we could give it a go.
Up until April, we went three times a week. Missed a handful of times. But, we were pretty consistent. My box? My box is lovely. Crossfit Lemont is a different vibe than CTOWN but it’s still one of my favorites. Our coaches are amazing. Our box is really intimate and small in a good way.