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Girl Talk: Adventures in CrossFit

Who knew hanging from the monkey bars would be a million times harder past the age of 10?

I’ve said it on these pages before. I identify as a runner and don’t often integrate other forms of exercise in my workout line-up. Though I’ve been known to hit up a hot yoga class here or there (this Florida girl loves a good sweaty session), I crave the familiarity of running and don’t usually push myself outside of my comfort zone; however it’s time for a change. With two marathons on my spring schedule (a measly six days apart – yikes!), this is the year that I become the well-rounded athlete I’ve always wanted to be.

I decided to give CrossFit a try since I know that strength training is an area where I am seriously lacking. Its unconventional methods and high-intensity workout structure made it appealing, but its hardcore reputation had me slightly intimidated. Pushing fear of the unknown aside, I set out for my first class this past weekend.

I walked into the gym on Saturday morning feeling out of place as I gazed at the all of the CrossFit devotees who I presumed could smell my fear. To my surprise, the instructor quickly greeted me and set me up with a partner who promised not to bite. We chatted for a few minutes before the class began and I immediately felt at ease as she explained the CrossFitlingo to me (hello WOD, toe swings, push backs and more!). After the instructor gave us the directions for the workout-of-the-day (WOD), we grabbed our weights and snagged a section of the gym.

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We were given 20 minutes to complete as many rounds of the exercises as we could, while we kept track of our progress. With loud music blaring through the gym, the instructor blew the whistle and we began the drill.

At first, I thought to myself – This will be a piece of cake. I’m a runner. How hard is it to do a few squats, some push–ups and toe touches while hanging from a monkey bar?

I made it through the first five minutes with no issue, though immediately started dripping with sweat. By the sixth minute, I was drenched and wondering how I was going to survive 14 more minutes of this torture (funny how it seemed easy at first!). Sensing my exhaustion during the second half of the workout (did I mention the second half was only 10 minutes long?), my partner amped up the support and cheered relentlessly as I powered on. By the time the clock struck 20, I was cooked. Completely done. Lying on the floor with a pool of sweat beneath me.

My partner gave me a high-five and told me I’d done an awesome job at my first class as I tried to pull myself together. With a mixture of disbelief (did I really almost die over a 20 minute workout? I can run three times as long with no problem!) and exhaustion, I rested for a few minutes before grabbing my stuff and heading out.

As I climbed in my car to drive home, I felt proud of myself. Not only did I step completely out of my comfort zone, but I also did it alone. I walked into what I perceived to be an intimidating setting (though it really wasn’t) without knowing anyone and I tried a new adventure. I may not have been the best, but I gave it my all and left everything on the gym floor (literally). I’m excited about this new journey and can’t wait to see where it takes me.

Have you ever tried a workout that intimidated you? How did you power through? Let me know here or tweet me @KaraDeschenes!