I’ve never been a A+ student. During my undergraduate program I was more of an ‘athlete-student’ versus a ‘student-athlete’, and to be frank, I’ve never really enjoyed “going to school” very much. Learning, however, is something I’ve deliberately sought out throughout my athletic endeavors. Through high school, college, post-college, and now my past 7 years as a member at Synapse, seeking perpetual learning has kept me engaged and feeling fulfilled.
My first experience with CrossFit was during off-season training for women’s water polo. Our strength and conditioning coach, Keysha, who now owns CrossFit Madtown in Wisconsin, utilized Crossfit to combat off-season weight gain. We endured overhead plate lunges across the hot sunny soccer field, bleacher stair sprints, and 400 meter group jogs where no one was allowed to walk, or else we would start all over.
After I “retired” from competitive swimming and water polo, I still participated in both, but on a recreational level, and without any strength regimen. Realizing that my body, and perhaps my mind, needed something more, I then had my second experience with CrossFit.
I dropped into a local CrossFit gym I had driven by many times on my way home from Masters swim practice. The workout was “Cindy” – a 20 minute AMRAP of 5 pull ups, 10 push ups, and 15 squats – and I used the thick blue band for pull ups, as I had no idea how to kip (or what a kip was, let alone do an unassisted strict pull up). It was a challenging and sweaty 20 minutes, but I got through it, and when I came back the next time, the workout was completely different, and full of new challenges. These challenges have never gone away, and always present the opportunity to learn and practice something new, from properly engaging for the “catch” on a squat clean, to landing softer on a box jump, to maintaining ‘hollow-body’ during butterfly pullups.
For me, CrossFit has been learning something fairly foreign. From 11 years old through 24, much of my time was spent exercising in a pool, and I had never heard the term “hollow-body,” never spoke about ‘staying stacked’, and dorsiflexion was never top-of-mind. Don’t get me wrong, I miss water polo (not so much swimming), but something that has helped me stick with CrossFit is the process of learning, improving, and being able to track my progress.
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