It is that time of year when we think about being healthier, and the thought of more exercise comes to mind.
Ever since I adopted the Paleo Diet, I have heard about CrossFit. The rub was every person I knew who was doing CrossFit was young and had extremely hard, fit bodies. It is apparently an intense set of exercises requiring strength and endurance. At 60, I just didn’t see myself in that category.
Still, I kept hearing about how the key to success for good health is a strong core. CrossFit was all about strengthening your core, but I was still very hesitant to explore the whole thing.
Finally, I got the courage to email the local CrossFit gym. I explained I was 60 and had not done this type of exercise in many years. I asked if they would consider having someone like me. I was sure when they read the email it would get one of those big red rejected stamps.
To my surprise, they thought I would be a perfect candidate and would love to have me come in and try out a class. I kept checking the email address to be sure they had sent it to the right person.
When I went, it was everything I expected and feared. We had to do sit-ups. I got down on the floor and tried to pull my upper body up. It was like there was an elephant sitting on my stomach. I was glued to the floor. In the end, I had to have my feet tucked under some gigantic weights and use a huge rubber strap hooked up to a bar which allowed me to pull myself up. I wanted to be embarrassed, humiliated, washed up and leave dejected, but the staff there just acted like this was normal and went about their business. I could hardly act embarrassed if no one was making an issue of it until they had me jump rope. I grabbed the rope as if I was 9 years old again. I thought nothing of putting the rope behind me and pulling it up over my head. The only problem was when it came down my legs were like two huge cement pillars. Goliath couldn’t move them. They just stood there, immobilized.
To complicate matters: If the old bod wasn’t responding, my brain was having trouble with the names of the exercises. If older people think learning the new tech language is hard, wait until you experience WODs, snatches, burpies (which I thought was something you said “excuse me” after). I was cross-eyed trying to figure out what these things meant.
In the end, I should have known that there is something to practice that makes most all things possible because determined to stick it out, slowly over the next few weeks, I came to do a sit up unaided and have actually jumped rope. Well, once.
But what really keeps me coming back is not so much the belief in myself but the belief they have in me. Any sign of doubt on my part is overshadowed by a resounding “You can do it!” It is truly amazing what encouragement can do for the body and the soul. The trainers, Cam and Taylor, were born to be coaches. I often leave the gym with a smile on my face just because I successfully lifted a 5-pound weight over my head and the look on their faces when I do it. Pure joy.
The fact is I am still 60, and I will never look like or be able to accomplish what the younger, very fit people in my class do. The trainers might disagree, but I am not trying to beat the best. Showing up puts me at the top of the pack in my age group. Anything else is trimmings on the cake.
I don’t know if CrossFit is for you, but since the new year is upon us and the desire to be healthier comes on strong this time of year, I encourage you to hook up with our local CrossFit group and see if you fit in. If that doesn’t sound attractive, any gym or walk in the park is a way to start. Certainly if I can do it, you can too. Happy new year!
Patti Galle, co-owner of Miss Paleo Mixes, lives and exercises in Grass Valley.