Worth It? - Randi Diskin
Recently, I found myself analyzing my life while waiting for the automatic carwash (that’s when you know you overthink things, right there). It’s one of our favorite family adventures, because the kids are 100% restrained in their car seats and are 100% entertained- while I feel like a responsible adult by “taking care” of our vehicle.
I stared at the sign trying to decide what magical and promising description was really worth the $10, knowing full well that no amount of money I threw at the machine was going to deliver on its promises. The tri-color polish, spot-free rinse, rust-hustling, body-blaster, wheel cleaning machine can’t come close to me doing the honest work of washing our car.
So why did I buy the gimmick?
I’ve been swimming in thoughts lately (for months… maybe years?) about what makes a “community” and how individual identity contributes to the whole.
My first encounter with CrossFit was while on a trip visiting one of my former college roommates in San Diego. Yep, during v-a-c-a-t-i-o-n. “Cross-what?” I asked my friend, as we rushed to get her 6 kids and my 2 into a music class next to the field where we were headed. She and her husband had recently finalized the adoption of two foster boys, while in the same week her husband was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. I was there to support her, and this is where she had made the time to be, so I happily stood in line to pay my $10 for the class.
I followed the directions for the workout on the mini whiteboard, looking like a fool in my non-trendy yoga pants, wondering WHY ON EARTH people would pay for this?? I would not have picked this for a vacation outing, much less ever, but I was here for my friend.
And that’s what got me. After the crazy sweating and shouting of expletives during a freakish expectation of lunges across a soccer field, these people stood around talking and encouraging each other about more than just the workout.
I got to observe it briefly, and participate as an outsider, but I find that it’s true! There’s something symbiotic (denoting a mutually beneficial relationship between different people) about a group of people who share a commonality. I love having part of my identity labeled with those I share passions with- “backpacker”, “Cubs fan”, “laundry rebel.” There’s satisfaction in a mutual understanding.
However, we rally each other to “celebrate our differences,” so what brings people together?
My observation is that it’s the shared struggle, growth, and accomplishment. I’m accepting more in my late 30’s that genuine growth is hard, uncomfortable and offensive. So, confrontation is part of building a community? Yep. What if it’s an ugly mess and there are tears and expletives?
“Do hard things.” “You do you.” “It’s not who you are, it’s who you’re with.” I find myself wrestling with Instagram quotes as a means of motivation while scrolling. Inspiration is easy to gather from one quote at a time, but it gets conflicting pretty quickly, when side by side. If I’m honest about being true to myself, I confess I’m pretty mediocre. When I do me, I am passionate about too many ideas and often forget to do things or run out of time to do them all well. I’m a list writer, and love checking things off- which drives some nuts. My identity lies in so many titles and stability of them. Embracing growth is uncomfortable, challenging the core of our identities.
It’s really uncomfortable. I should know, I recently grew a mini-human.
The buzz here about CrossFit began just before I found out I was pregnant. I had only been to a few workouts, and afterwards, could barely move a muscle without cringing. Being inside a gym isn’t my preferred form of exercise, so I decided I wasn’t drinking the CrossFit kool-aid, especially pregnant. Too hard.
But with my previous pregnancies, neither birth went as planned, so I thought maybe the missing element was ‘regular exercise’. There was some positive peer pressure to work out with friends at CrossFit, and as a struggling extrovert (mostly conversing with toddlers and infants), an opportunity to meet new ones, I decided I wanted to experiment.
Several months later, I had a long, excruciating labor and definitely did NOT leave the hospital in my favorite jeans. Five months post-partum, I left a workout pissed off at exercise for what I couldn’t do. And the fear of pain, embarrassment and failure buried me like a ton of bricks.
I realized, I was rolling up to the “automatic car wash of exercise” thinking that showing up to CrossFit a couple of times a week was going to fulfill my pipe dreams. I completely left out the biological process of recovering from pregnancy, much less the individual process each body needs to lose weight and get stronger. Big picture though, CrossFit had been worth it. I had met my goal of moving more during pregnancy. And I had built and even deepened relationships with people I might not have met outside of, ew, a gym.
One month after having baby, I got an email that said, “Get your ass to the gym.” Not exactly gentle, but what I needed to hear- I needed to show up. Around the same time, as I was talking goals with a friend, she asked, “What exactly are you doing about it?” Whoa. Not just showing up, but doing hard things, taking hard measurable steps toward growth. And yet, another friend, said, “I’ll meet you there.” So we made a plan to do it together.
The saying, “iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” came to mind. It’s describing a brutal, beautiful process- it’s not warm, fuzzy, hugging. Two solid blades, scraping violently against each other in an effort to sharpen them both, rendering them to their best capacity. The outcome is better for both. But the process is hard, long and pretty uncomfortable- and I guess pushing-on/scraping-against someone is fairly offensive. I recently heard it described as a group of people getting together to do the work, pushing each other above preferences, through fear, and beyond weakness.
So make time to show up. Join the community! There’s room at the table of CrossFit. Bring who you are. Don’t be easily offended. Don’t complain about the flaws- differences are what fuel growth and change. And don’t rush it. The process is uncomfortable, but beautiful. Commit to staying and working together- despite the mess ups. One Instagram quote I read recently I can get behind: “If it’s easy, you’re doing it wrong.”
It is worth it.