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Monday
May092011

On Crossfit and facing your fears (or not) 

Hello, my doves. How are you? You smell fantastic. Like some sort of pastry. Come closer.

This is going to be a long and rambling post but hell, you can skim it, or not even read it at all, if it comes to that. Right? Right. Whatever you decide, I hope you're comfortably seated, or standing, or maybe even lying flat on your back, with a screen hovering above you. Do you have one of those futuristic Hover-Screens™? So great.

I know some of you have been wondering how my mood is, and let me tell you! Just eechhh. Isn't that cheerful? Isn't that a happy sound? I actually took one of those online depression questionnaires today, and the result came back OH DEAR. And this is about 90% better than I WAS, so, well, you can imagine!

I have an appointment with my psychiatrist in two days, and I intend to give him a piece of my mind. My not-happy mind! I'm going to be all, "See here, good man, why am I not yet whistling a happy tune?"

I'll let you know how that pans out.

Until then, here's what happened today. Today I completed my Crossfit Foundations course. In case you're not familiar with Crossfit, it's one of those bootcamp-ish, lift-heavy-things-and-run-'til-you-puke workout places. People seem to obsessively love it, so I signed up for the Foundations course, in which you learn, duh, the foundations. This is supposed to lead you seamlessly into the regular group workout classes. Which I was a little scared of, to be honest, because I felt like I was perhaps less than ready for such a thing.

My feelings of incompetence despite completing the course surprised me, as I have been steadily and faithfully gym-going for the past two years--and also they didn't surprise me, as I have held the conviction all along that I'm still fundamentally weak and uncoordinated. This is a feeling that goes back as far as I can remember. I have never felt like I had any natural skill at moving my body through space.

Not only do I persist in believing this, it's also a belief that carries with it a huge amount of humiliation and shame. I seem to seek out activities that are going to poke me right in this incredibly sore spot, either because I'm trying to move past it and improve or because I'm looking for validation that I am a hopeless weakling and klutz.

I took kung fu until the instructor singled me out in class for my terrible form.

I took belly dancing until the instructor singled me out for awkwardness and general unsexiness (my terms, not hers).

I practiced yoga until one instructor spent the entire session adjusting me and asking loudly if I had some kind of severe injury that made me move that way.

I get it: I'm not flexible. But I keep giving up on these activities because I'm convinced that I'm not going to get any more flexible. And then I try something else, until I'm humiliated and I run away. And so on.

So even with my regular strength training, I had hit something of a plateau, because of the above inflexibility. That's when I decided to try out Crossfit. I have no idea why. Masochism? I actually thought the intro course was interesting, if intimidating and hard as hell. I thought I was making progress, although I know my instructor was concerned about my mobility issues.

By the way, there's another course, one that people who are not quite ready for the group classes can take, called "On Ramp." I had a feeling he'd tell me I should take this before I went to the group classes. THIS IS IMPORTANT TO THE STORY.

Instead, he told me that because of my mobility issues, he wants me to take 10-20 private sessions, then go to On Ramp, and then maybe I'd be ready for group classes. He wants me to work on my mobility issues, and he's worried that if I can't get proper form in some of the stances, I'll just injure myself and give up. Which he does not want me to do. Reasonable, right? So reasonable!

I will tell you, I wanted to die of humiliation, when he told me this. It was yoga all over again. And belly dancing. And oh, lord, kung fu. Once again, I was being assigned to Remedial Gym.

(Did I ever tell you how I had to take Remedial Gym in high school? Yep. Just soak that in, for a moment. REMEDIAL GYM. It's no wonder I have all of these goddamn issues.)

So now I have a choice to make: do I go for private sessions? Or do I give up?

Part of me wants to forge ahead. I've made some progress, and I've seen how far it is that I need to go. The worst that happens is after the set of private sessions, I decide I don't want to do it.

But part of me is wondering, why do I put myself in these situations, again and again, where I'm just left feeling terrible about myself? What am I in it for? Yes, I'd like to be in better shape. Yes, I'd like to feel strong and capable and coordinated. But surely there are ways of doing this that won't leave me just feeling awful?

Another factor is, of course, my brain chemistry, which is all off-kilter at the moment. Maybe once my serotonin is re-uptaking or not re-uptaking or WHATEVER I'll feel a little more confident in what Mr. Crossfit Coach is telling me.

Right now I only want to curl up under some blankets. This might not the best long-term approach for general fitness, but on the other hand the blankets are warm and soft and almost never mention my "mobility issues."

I'm throwing it to you, my beloved readers: what do you think? Crossfit? Something else? Or the blankets?

(And by the way: I don't question my instructor/coach's motives at : he's smart and his advice has always been spot-on. I like him a lot and truly believe he wants the best for me. I also happen to think he secretly is horrified by what an awful, uncoordinated idiot I am. This may just be me.)

Reader Comments (118)

Never was coordinated. Hated all the sports my dad loved (rock-climbing, downhill skiiing), which disappointed him mightily and gave me no end of issues. Almost failed gym a few times. I discovered karate at age 26 and have stuck with that fo 17 yrs, through several changes of continent, a c-section and a herniated disc. I am not sparring, competing or throwing kicks at anyone's head these days. I am also mother to a toddler, not in shape and have no time. One thing I learned through martial arts is you will always feel like a spazz, but you do get less spazzlike as time goes on.

I do pilates for my back and karate 1x/wk. My suggestions are:
1. let go of the ego-- you are doing this for your body, not to appear in an ad for workout gear.
2. do you feel better after you do it? is it helping you reach your fitness goals? then try it or keep at it and don't let thoughts of how others are doing with it get in your way. They are not living in your body.
3. if it isn't getting you where you need to go, that's when you quit. The private classes seem like a great way to build confidence and see if it makes you feel like you want to go further with it.

You're not taking that calcium supplement b/c it's cool, Alice. And newsflash- NO ONE except the instructor looks cool in a karate or kickboxing class.

I thought I could have a c-section and go right back to the dojo. My aching back every morning is a testament to how wrong I was. I think pilates is boring as hell, but it WORKS and I have a few friends in the class and my instructor really wants to help me. This makes it worth my going. Would I rather be doing karate? OH yes indeed. But- I can't right now. This is what I need to do so I can get where I want to go...

Might be worth just thinking about it in a slightly different way:)

May 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

Oh, my darling.

I don't really get it. I mean, I know that you're feeling very, very sad right now and I get that - because I do, too. And that's ok. You're allowed to feel sad.

But this - this thing. This exercise thing. My dear, you're making a much bigger deal out of it than it actually is. Here's the thing - if you can't do this Crossfit thing, it's not the end of the world. Maybe it feels like the end of the world right now, but it's not. I didn't make the cheerleading squad in grade school. That felt like the end of the world. 25 years later, I've got a wonderful, loving husband and a beautiful daughter who is pretty sure that I'm the center of the universe. (She's 1. She'll outgrow it. I know this.) I've got great friends. I've got a job that pays me every other week. I didn't die. I felt like I was going to die at the time. I cried. A lot. But, I didn't die.

You're not going to die. You've got Scott and Henry and your dog and your cat and your friends and this community you've created with your website and they're going to love you regardless of if you can do the fitness fad of the month.

If you want to get fit, do it. Do Crossfit if you want to do it. Take the private lessons if you want to do it. Or find something way more fun than Crossfit and do that. Hell, take private strip aerobics lessons because at least you can savor the ridiculouslessness (that's definitely not a word) of strip aerobics.

Don't let this thing get into your head and hurt your lovable brain. Take charge. Figure out what you want to do. And then do it. But don't let it make you feel sad. It's not worth it.

May 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJen

Okay. 77 comments so far, I'm too lazy/ADD to scroll read through them to see if anyone else says something similar to me and I could be all: "I totes agree with McSo-and-so, yadda yadda yadda."

Anyway, I just learned about CrossFit yesterday and am hoping to work it into my budget in the next few months. So also it's good to learn a little more.

It seems like this guy is different than the previous instructors in that, while singling you out in a way, he's approaching your mobility issues positively and not negatively. To me that says he's a good fit for you unlike the other instructors.

I say go for the private instruction (this way you don't have to worry about being singled out among a whole class) and then go from there. Like you said, the worst that could happen after the private sessions is that you don't want to do the group classes.

May 10, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterdanielle

One day in kindergarten my teacher presented me with some "homework." I was to give the envelope to my parents and they'd tell me what my homework was. Homework was something big kids did, so I was over the moon.

My parents read the note, looked at each other, and sent me out of the room. Apparently they had tried to teach us to skip that day and my performance was sub-par. When they called me back in, my homework was to skip down to the mailbox and back. I handed my parents the newspaper and could not read the look on their faces but I knew something was up. You can imagine the series of tests that ensued.

Today I'm guessing I would be diagnosed with sensory processing disorder and assigned some occupational therapy. Partly to protect me from public-school P.E., I moved to Catholic school for first grade. The pediatrician said that physical activity would help my coordination, so I began a gauntlet of lessons. I had tap and ballet classes. I had a handwriting tutor. There was a season of church league basketball during which I made exactly one basket. I got out of gymnastics when I tried to vault over some furniture and broke my arm. Eventually we hit on swimming, and I got to do that year-round and avoid all the other junk. I know you will find your swimming eventually.

Eventually I did have to take a public school P.E. class, and it was horrible. I still mix up right and left, I never learned how to ride a bike, and there's probably a note in my medical record about my tendency to hurt myself. Pretty much anything with a "right foot green" component trips me up. Because of my actual experiences and because I've internalized a bunch of lousy messages, I tend to live much more in my head than in my body. But oddly, trying to get more into my body has helped me work out some emotional stuff.

I have a good friend who is a yoga teacher and somatic movement therapist who is trained in a great many modalities. Her classes are like gym class for people who hated gym class, and it was through her activities that I eventually was able to enjoy some dance-like activities. In one exercise--I forget the exact prompt, but I think we were supposed to use movement to demonstrate a behavior or habit we wanted to change--I tried walking around a room full of dancers backwards, with my head over my shoulder, as if I had a heavy backpack on, symbolizing my tendency to look backwards and be weighed down by past mistakes and regrets. It is really hard to get anywhere that way! That might be more obvious to someone who lives more in their body, but for me it was a very big deal.

One of the therapies she practices is called Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy. It's one-on-one guided yoga with hands-on support. When it's over you feel like you've exercised even though the therapist has done the heavy lifting (well, it's heavy in my case, put it that way). And throughout the process, the therapist asks questions and you attempt to answer them. It's really subtle--I think it starts with how you feel right then, and I'm not sure how it gets from point A to point Z--but it was really helpful for me to combine talk therapy, which I've been at since age 13, with physical engagement.

My other suggestion, even though you're neither elderly nor plus-size, is to seek out a yoga teacher who offers chair yoga for the elderly, and/or classes for plus-size people. Such teachers are expert in using props and adaptations to make yoga comfortable and doable for every student. And I would imagine they handle things with a lot more sensitivity and tact, and that they don't balk at having to repeat instructions. (But if you're totally burnt on yoga, I understand.)

I always felt like I was the only one in the world who couldn't do X or Y. But people blog about this all the time, and I'm very grateful to know there are zillions of us out there. Good luck, whatever you decide to do.

May 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJenny

I know what it feels like to be uncoordinated--I HATED sports of all kinds growing up, I was never good and always picked last and PE sucked donkey balls, every single day. I flat-out refused to exercise until I turned 35 and realized my body didn't look like I wanted it to look anymore, and so I started running. I turned 40 in January and have finished multiple 5K and 10Ks and one half-marathon.

When I run, I FEEL coordinated and light on my feet, but when I see pictures or videos of myself from races I realize just how awkward I look. Really, really, embarassingly awkward. So my solution to that is . . . I avoid looking at pictures & videos from my races! That way I can preserve the fiction in my head that I look like all the other runners out there. I know I'm strong, I know I'm capable, and in my mind I look amazing. It's a win-win-win.

May 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLeigh

No joke, I literally finished my Crossfit Essentials program last night. We are living parallel lives! Except for the whole depression thing... I (luckily) am not dealing with that at this current moment in time. But I'm sure my time will come.

Anyway - for what it's worth I think you should stick with Crossfit. If your Mr. Crossfit is anything like my Mr. Crossfit that dude knows his SHIT. So patient and encouraging and just smart, you know? He'll make sure you're doing it right, and once you've got that down then you'll have nothing to be afraid of! Stick with it, learn it (even if it takes a while) and then own it.

May 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAlex

Okay, so, here is my advice. Don't take any of it. Any advice from anyone. If your trainer says move your foot, then punch him in the face.

....

I was going somewhere with this but I saw something shiny.

Oh yes, I remember. Depression is as depression does. You could be a world famous author who also is insanely hysterically funny, and absolutely perfect at all forms of yoga and gymnastics and your naughty brain would tell you that you suck. As a person.

But, it's wrong! If the class looks fun, then try to do it. If it now sounds horrible, then don't. But don't let your apparent suckiness drive you away from potential fun.

I took tap dance. And EVERYONE could do the funky jumps. I can tap okay if my feet are on the ground. If you ask me to tapdance whilst midair whilst jumping, then you've got another thing coming. Not only can I not jump. But I can't land. And, doing both, jumping and landing, takes so much concentration I cannot under no circumstances tap the floor while midair. That said, my teacher mocked me in front of the class and said if I'd just practice more I'd get it. I'd been practicing jumping every day! For 2 years! And, I cannot, nor will I ever be capable of jumping and dancing.

THAT SAID, Tap dance was one of the funnest classes I've ever taken. I like the rhythm, the blues, the sweat, and the noisy toes.

So again, if it's fun, do try it. If it's just gonna suck, then don't try it.

May 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMarilyn

I *so* understand how you feel. I have this absolute inability to watch other people's movements and then replicate them. Yoga, Zumba, whatever. Last night my 12yo son was trying to teach me how to tie a particular Boy Scout knot and even that was beyond me! I've got chronic back problems and have gone through physical therapy several times--invariably, the therapist, when trying to teach me a particular stretch or exercise, ends up having to push and pull the parts of my body involved so that I finally understand what I'm supposed to be doing. It's embarrassing!
Of course I'm completely unathletic and uncoordinated. In jr. high and high school we didn't have remedial gym. But since I'm blind in one eye (I was hit with a little plastic football when I was 5), my teen years were spent trying desperately to convince my gym teachers that participation in sports endangered my one remaining, seeing eye. It never worked. So I pleaded cramps like 3 weeks out of the month.

May 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

So I voted for "try something else"...I think what made me decide to go that way was the "why do I seek out these things that make me feel horrible" aspect. Since you've been gyming, is it possible to do personal training with very focused goals like moving better through space? Particularly since you're not singing a happy tune yet. Unless you really liked the stuff you have done with this other program, and you really really want to continue, because you like it, and not just as a psychological exercise.

I'm sorry you're not singing a happy tune. I hate this part of things (particularly since I appear to be the type of person who felt like some sort of failure in some sort of additional way for not responding to the drugs and imagined my shrink thinking "geez, lady, what is wrong with you that all these drugs I'm throwing at you aren't working?" Obviously, he wasn't thinking this. Probably because I was paying him. He tried enough stuff that he eventually sent me to what I affectionately call a super shrink who specialized in getting your whole mental health history and pharmacological history and then coming up with a set of recommendations for your shrink to try--and this is only one visit--super! There's some official name for this, but I have no recollection of what that would be. But doing one of the things on that list combined with what I was already on has done the trick. Hopefully you will not need the super hero of shrinks. But it definitely made a difference to me. Hope the happy tune is forthcoming.

May 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKatie

Oh Alice, all the best to you in working through the depression. Yes, I've been there. Good not to make big decisions whilst slogging through it. Well, or touch anything expensive, but that's another story...

Also --I totally applaud you for exercising at all while depressed! And for striving to find a form of exercise where you can feel coordinated and at home in your body.

That being said, please give yourself permission to NOT make a PERFECT decision. You can hibernate and blanketize, and then emerge back out into fitnessquestland. If your coach connects with you and doesn't make you feel bad, there's nothing at all wrong with taking the individual coaching sessions. In fact, ultimately choosing some form of exercise with individual instruction wouldn't be a bad choice anyway, as it takes the comparisons out of the equation. And you can choose to explore other forms of physical activity as well. Pilates is very individualized, Alexander Technique (they pretty much assume that NO ONE uses their body in the most efficient or healthful way), or some other form of Physical Therapy might be quite helpful. There is no shame in your body being exactly the way it is. You can choose to leave the shame behind.

And ultimately, I hope you find a form of exercise that you can REALLY fall in love with - to the point where you don't care if you suck at it, and continue to suck at it over time. I am not very athletic (oh asthma, my constant companion!), but I do love to go on long walks, and love two forms of dance - adult beginning ballet (which, no matter how tubby I am and how stiff and uncoordinated I am, makes me feel taller and more graceful), and bollywood (it's happiness in motion - I've gone in there feeling like death warmed over, and came out smiling, at least for a bit). I'm never going to be actually GOOD at either of these dance forms, but I might eventually be able to do a single pirouette (maybe), and in bollywood class, I stand in the part of the room away from the mirror, and just keep looking at the instructor - I don't have to see how I suck (and I do), and the movement is so happy it just trumps everything else.

But you need to find what works for YOU. And not being in a class situation at all, or at least being with a really supportive teacher, sounds like where you might head off toward, at least for a time.

All the best to you no matter what you choose regarding the CrossFit classes. I so very much enjoy reading your blog and appreciate the window you give us into your world.

May 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMary

I've suffered from depression for years. Various meds stabilised me, but never truly worked. I decided to learn about nutrition, got books on eating for depression, got food intolerance testing (lots of things came up positive) and now I'm combining a new diet, minus the foods I'm intolerant to, with fish oils, st john's wort and evening primrose oil for hormone balance. I take herbs for sleep. No meds. I can honestly say this has worked better than any meds I've been on and my depression was quite severe. I didn't really think it would work, but I tried out of desperation. Food intolerances and hormonal imbalances can spark heave depressive episodes. Anyway, I'm sorry you're going through this, I know how awful it can be. Don't give up, try everything! Best of luck.

May 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRose

Oh! and multivitamins and minerals :-)

May 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRose

I'm in the same boat with you, Alice, which probably means we are about to capsize.

I'm learning to embrace the fact that I will never be as graceful as other people I know, but I am stronger than most girls my size so that's a win for me. And I would bet it is for you, too, with all the working out you've been doing.

That said, I suspect that there is a part of you that wants to overcome your inflexibility/uncoordination and WIN at Crossfit! I know that is part of the problem for me. Sometimes I think it's that I'm a glutton for punishment, but really, I want to reach a milestone. Something that lets me say, "I may not be the most coordinated or flexible, but I did this." And I think personal instruction would give you the way to find that "win."

So when your head's clearer, decide if this really something you want. If it is, go for the private instruction. If you find that you're just feeling obligated, though, then it isn't for you. In that way, I totally agree with Toni. Don't give the class power over you. Unless it's something you actually want.

May 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNatalie

I say skip it and stop punishing yourself. Life is too short to waste time on things you hate, especially things that you don't HAVE to do. You're not talking about exercise to save your life or anything, you're already going to the gym regularly which is more than most people do. Why are you adding more to your plate, do you need to have lots of things going on all at once or you're not happy? Go back to the doc and get your meds under control, so you can think rationally about how good you ARE already doing with exercise.

May 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMarie

PS. This seems apropos from today's Happiness Project post on overthinking:
http://www.happiness-project.com/happiness_project/2011/05/do-you-fall-into-the-trap-of-overthinking.html

From "...Professor Sonja Lyubomirsky's excellent book, The How of Happiness...

Many of us believe that when we feel down, we should try to focus inwardly and evaluate our feelings and our situation in order to attain self-insight and find solutions that might ultimately resolve our problems and relieve unhappiness. Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, I, and others have compiled a great deal of evidence challenging this assumption. Numerous studies over the past two decades have shown that to the contrary, overthinking ushers in a host of adverse consequences: It sustains or worsens sadness, fosters negatively biased thinking, impairs a person’s ability to solve problems, saps motivation, and interferes with concentration and initiative. Moreover, although people have a strong sense that they are gaining insight into themselves and their problems during their ruminations, this is rarely the case. What they do gain is a distorted, pessimistic perspective on their lives. "

May 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMarie

I find that working out with old people makes me feel awesome about myself. There's nothing like dancing to "It's Raining Men" with a bunch of 70-year-old ladies in a Zumba class. You will be the sexiest, flexiest, best-iest one in the room. I highly recommend it.

May 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterErrin

I think you are wonderful and brave! I vote Blankets, because I love blankets and now may not be the best time to start something like this. Dont add more stress and worry to your life if you can. My husband suffers from Anxiety and depression and wanted to lose some weight. He found yoga and diet to be the two things that worked best for him. Stay with your current weight training and maybe add something fun for you, something that makes you smile while you do it and afterwards when you think about how you feel. For me its just walking at the park. Maybe you could just have a longer stretch time and try some new poses, or just dance around the house with the family to silly songs.

Find your bliss. But whatever you do, do it for you and what works for you. Maybe trying new things is your thing! So what if they don't become your all consuming passion. I am too scared to venture outside my regular 'places.'

You are brave and strong and full of Grace in all the ways it counts.

May 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

Be gentle with yourself. I have been a runner for 18 years. I don't LIKE doing anything else. I refuse to go to the gym. I am not the fastest runner, but I do okay. It makes me feel good. It is "just for me" in the middle of 2 kids, 2 dogs, one cat and husband.. it makes me feel good ABOUT myself because I am out there, exercising. I also have suffered with depression on and off for most of my adult life. I have decided that life is enough of a struggle to try and make myself something I'm not. I am the LEAST flexible person you will ever meet. I tried yoga maybe twice and it is just no my cup of tea. So find something you love that makes you feel good! Whatever that may be. If it is variety, than have variety! If it is, like me, JUST ONE THING, that is okay! It's not a contest. Just be yourself and accept yourself. And I hope your Dr helps you, I know how you feel...

May 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPaige

A friend used to live in Brooklyn and got hooked on Nia while she was there. Take a look. It might be a better fit for you. http://www.nianow.com/home

May 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterFranca Bollo

I think if you don't try it you'll always wonder if it may have opened a door. And that if you don't you'll avoid things in the future that you may have LOVED, simply because you'll think (or feel after trying them out) your mobility issues will hinder you.

Someone above said that you may want to figure out your medication first. She (He?) kind of has a point there. Maybe, just right now, you could stick to things you simply enjoy, or know you can do without problems, so don't have added anxiety. Just for getting an exercise-fix. But once the medical treatment is mostly figured out, go for it! And if it takes too long to figure it out, simply start! Having a personal trainer will be a wonderful change to a class where you just feel like the one who gets picked last for teams all the time.

Maybe look at On Ramp not as something shameful, but something that helps removing a hurdle others don't have to fight with to begin with. It's like you have a speech impediment and keep trying out new languages. The language teachers try to fix your saying words incorrectly (while the rest of the class moves on to grammar). But they don't see that some basics before the word-forming are going wrong. Now you finally have a teacher who's smart enough to realize he can't fix you by making you repeat the words ten times over, and he recommends a speech therapy before going on with the language-learning. What is so bad about that? Do it, and then go on with that sport or have the freedom to try out other things without worrying about being The Klutz of the course again.

May 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJude

one thing that I read in one of SARK's books is that we don't HAVE to do exercise that makes us miserable and that just because something makes us miserable doesn't mean it's superior exercise. That really helped me stop doing aerobics where I feel like an uncoordinated asshole.

Also, it sounds to me like your pushing yourself on two fronts here: (1) the physical challenge front and (2) the getting over feeling silly front. That might be too much right now. I remember reading on Zen Habits that we have to tackle changes one and at a time.

I, random stranger on the internet, give you permission to quit.

May 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRachel

Hi Alice - I think something about my work computer makes it impossible for me to comment on your blog. (Maybe I'm not supposed to be reading your blog at work? Nah. That can't be it.) So I'm submitting this from home. Someone else may have already said the exact same thing already, but I don't have time to read through all of the comments. Truthfully, I hope everyone said the exact same thing. It's gold:

I've written to you before about how your gym going has inspired my gym going. I liked your approach because it was so reasonable. You wanted to improve your fitness, and you seemed to take it one small step at a time (thus building your confidence one small step at a time too). I don't know anything about this crossfit business, but it seems to me that it's about pushing yourself to the max. Is that what you want? I know I don't like that style of exercise, and that's why I stay away from spin classes too (another type of exercise that some people swear by). I did do a boot camp once, but I was such a sloppy mess by the end of each class -- and I'm a pretty coordinated person -- that I realized it wasn't for me. There are other ways to challenge yourself and stay engaged with the fitness thing. Right now, the sauna is what lures me to the gym. Well, that was before I threw out my back last week. Now I think I'm going to focus on my core. I'm thinking pilates.

May 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterErin

Hi Alice -- just wanted to say that I really relate to this post, especially the part about not feeling like I have any skill "moving my body through space." I feel so awkward and so clumsy about the way that I exercise/dance/walk/sit/etc every single day, and every time I've tried some new exercise/dance/yoga thing DESIGNED FOR BEGINNERS I always do terribly with it. (Also, as referenced by another commenter, I hate being bad at things, especially in a group setting!) I'm always amazed by (and envious of) people who seem so comfortable in their bodies.

So no real advice from me -- except that you should be kind to yourself and seek out/continue ways of being active that you actually enjoy. No need to feel shame re: remedial gym.

May 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBetsy

Oh dear. You deserve a medal. I am a Crossfit dropout. I tried Crossfit once. As in ONE time. And it was with my friend, "Coach Robin" who actually has a Crossfit gym in her garage. I know, I couldn't believe it either. Here's the thing: it was waaaay too hard for me and I pretty much hated it. I have nothing against it personally, and I have a bunch of friends who swear by it, but I also know people who go to trapeze camp and clown school. I'm not saying Crossfit-ers are circus freaks, I'm just saying it's hard. And I'm lazy. But guess what? I actually ran a half marathon the other day, because my friends said I should, and I thought I would hate it,because I used to think I hated running more than three miles in a row, but a funny thing happened: I actually didn't. So my point is, and I do have one, that you could quit crossfit and not be a failure, you could tell yourself that it was a good little adventure on the way to the next thing you might try, and that maybe some day you'll stumble onto something that you sort of like, and lo and behold, you might end up getting good at that. Or you might not. But maybe the trying is the adventure. I mean, think of all the blog fodder! Have you ever considered hopscotch, or croquet? Because in my experience, any time you can incorporate alcohol (uh, duh SCOTCH!) or costumes (we could all wear white clothes and hats if we play croquet, and talk in British accents!) into a sport, it gets much better.

I don't think you should do gymnastics though, despite how cute the leotards are. It's just not worth it. Balance beams are overrated.

Did I mention you are very brave?

One time, Alice. I gave up on Crossfit after ONE time. You're months braver than I am!

May 11, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterjuliejulie

When I was in Kindergarden, I was singled out by my gym coach for my severe inflexibility. When I was SIX, Alice. I had to do special exercises at home just to keep up with the kids in my class who would eat glue.

I went on to do gymnastics for years, which requires you to be VERY flexible, and I was always the most inflexible girl in the entire gym of 300 girls. I'm serious. But I loved gymnastics because it was fun! And I had coaches I trusted who would push me just to be better, not to be perfect. So even at that age, as a child, I taught myself not to care how awkward I looked, because I was doing something that was challenging and rewarding to myself.

I am still a very inflexible 26 year old, and yoga instructors still look at me with a raised eyebrow, but it only matters what YOU want to do! If something is intriguing you about Crossfit, try it! There is no shame in taking baby steps to accomplish a goal that is important to you. In fact, it is admirable. Find a coach whose goal is to help you improve, not to be the most perfect Crossfit person alive, and you will feel encouraged and not punished.

May 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKristina

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