And now for something completely different

26 Nov

If you’ve found this post because you googled ‘CrossFit’ and somehow ended up here, let me start by apologizing right now.  You probably spend your time kicking ass and visualizing that perfect butterfly pull-up.  When the WOD gets started you rip off your shirt because your abs can be seen from space and it’s a crime against humanity to keep them covered.  At least, I assume that’s why you rip off your shirts.  Don’t really know.  This blog is not for you.  (Except for maybe a recipe or two.)  Love you.  Now: Buh-bye.

The rest of you know me.  At least a bit.  You know I spend my time crumpeting around, falling into fantasy land, wringing my hands or gushing over being an American in the UK, going gaga over history, enjoying a good bakery, picturesque ruins, and a pretty close-up shot of a flower.  I never ever rip my shirt off.  The idea of me visualizing a perfect butterfly pull-up is as ludicrous as me attempting one.  Running in the mud has been as crazy as my midlife crisis has gone.

I’ve lost a lot of weight since my mother was diagnosed with cancer this last time.  The connection is not subtle.  She was diagnosed with lung cancer: I committed myself to eating healthy and losing weight.  There may have been an element of bargaining.  If I worked hard and ate clean, every day, maybe I could accrue extra health points which would magically transfer to her.  This did not work.  I don’t really want to talk about it.  Seventy pounds later, she’s passed away and I’m still here, wondering where to go next.

Where I go most often, these days — when I can tear myself away from gibbering at the dark and making my fireplace roar — is to CrossFit.  The idea that I belong there is nearly fantastical — forty-two, mother to three, two years ago barely able to finish walking 5k in an hour? And after so many months of hard work, still overweight and still slow and still weak?  Yet, somehow, through the alchemy of sweat, tears, and high-fives, my local affiliate is starting to feel like a home away from home.  And you know what I do when I like something.  I get in really close.  Closer.  Now look upside down at what you usually look at straight on.  And … take a picture.


You didn’t know CrossFit was adorable, did you?  Kettlebells for the kids.  IMG_1032ed

And for the big kids.  Because so much of what happens here feels like reclaiming youth — at least to me.  When was the last time I did handstands for fun?  For any reason at all?  Oh right, it was today.  At CrossFit.IMG_1039ed

There’s a serpentine elegance to the stacks of weights.  I used to find them intimidating.  Now they’re just tools.  Tinkertoys for big girls and boys.IMG_1041ed

Again, they say.  And again.  And again.  Just keep moving.IMG_1043ed

Those wicked-whip jump ropes!  How is it possible to smack myself on the forearm … the calf … and the butt … all in one go?  My talent for imperfection is limitless.IMG_1046ed

Colorful rogues through a forest of steel.  You know I do love a cheeky rogue.IMG_1050ed

My favorite.  The ropes.  I suck at this, too, but I love it.  I’m Jack, going up the Beanstalk!  I’m a pirate!  I’m a monkey!  I’m anything I want to be!  Also, I’m falling, aieeeeeee!


They seem so wholesome, don’t they?  They say: Come on, give us a good grip, see what might happen.IMG_1059ed

These bands.  This bar.  For me, it’s like staring into Khazad-dûm.  When I started, I used two green bands to do a pull-up.  Then a green and a blue.  Now a blue only.  One day maybe a free pull-up?  One day.  I may need a Balrog nipping at my heels to get all the way there.

I don’t know what other people see when they see this.  I see something like a kitchen.  Beaters, mixers, ovens, all for pounding and folding and baking people into … improved versions of themselves.  Not morally, not that.  More resilient, maybe.  Tempered.  Well-leavened.IMG_1066ed

Reminders of the ‘fundamentals’.  Scaling options are pretty much where I live.IMG_1072ed

Who knew a tennis ball could be so amazing when placed just there by the shoulder?  Or pvc pipe could be the gateway to olympic movements?  IMG_1073ed

A cheerful sea of rage balls.  IMG_1076ed

Well, fairly cheerful.  Until you look up.  And the distance from here to where the ball needs to be is as far as the distance between life and death.  And you squat down, fix your eyes on the goal, and throw.

And keep throwing.


8 Responses to “And now for something completely different”

  1. Daily Presents/Cadigan Creative November 26, 2013 at 5:36 pm #

    I love this post. And I don’t even CrossFit. But you made me laugh more than once on a dismal, rainy day, and for that, I thank you, friend. Happy Thanksgiving 🙂

    • Monique November 26, 2013 at 6:28 pm #

      So glad your dismal day brought you here, and you found some laughter to brighten it up a little. Miss you, friend!

  2. Ruth November 26, 2013 at 9:56 pm #

    You really are amazing! I think I’ll go ride the exercise bike now, in your honor.

    • Monique November 27, 2013 at 7:51 am #

      And a handstand!! 😉

  3. Uncle Jack November 27, 2013 at 2:03 am #

    My, your photographic skills are impressive. I really enjoyed this essay. Almost makes me want to pump iron.

    • Monique November 27, 2013 at 7:53 am #

      I’m always so glad when you enjoy a post, Uncle Jack! It’s high praise, I feel. And I recommend CrossFit for all ages and stages — so go for it!!

  4. aubreyepp December 4, 2013 at 2:01 pm #

    This is my first (and, who am I kidding, probably last) ever peek inside a CrossFit box. Glad I got to see it from your very cool perspective.

    • Monique December 9, 2013 at 10:43 am #

      I was hoping to at least demystify the experience — not a frightening place at all. And if you ever want to try it out with a buddy … 😉

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