Thursday, April 25, 2024

State(s) of Intention...a Progress Report

One of the things I had found most tender-difficult-challenging as I began my CrossFit journey is also one of the gifts: intention toward progress

When I started CrossFit over five years ago at CrossFit Dedication (close to my campus work place), it was the gym-practice for the coach to write each athlete’s name on the white-board. At the conclusion of the WOD, the coach would yell out each name for the athlete to then name his/her/their time or rounds/reps or whatever. It was horribly public and for my experience of things, quite shaming. Nothing to do with CrossFit, of course. More to do with how my parents had (admirably) attempted to get us girls to do our chores, become responsible little human beings. They’d used a whiteboard, with “chips” awarded for each task accomplished. It was a great system for my task-oriented sister; it was horrible for my own dreamy-wondering-exploratory self. They eventually realized it was traumatizing me, so stopped it altogether. But I walked into that CrossFit box and almost burst into tears at the whiteboard. 

Surprising the affiliate-owners, I wrote a long email defining the space for myself, what I could and could NOT do. I did NOT want my name on the whiteboard. I would NOT yell out my score/time. I insured for myself that the space would be a safe one for me, honoring what I needed in contrast to communal practice/norms. 

And it worked. 

For a period of months, I simply ignored the progress-report bit in CrossFit methodology. Which allowed me to realize how mental it had been for me, and how little power those around me actually had over what my body was enjoying in the space. The main coach for me at the time, Melissa, had assured me that no one was paying attention or judging my score. I didn’t believe her, because that had not been my earliest experience. Just get better as the athlete’s motto began to take root, however. Just get better (for me), not better than… 

I eventually lifted the “ban” and began to track my own WODS, have my name on the whiteboard, yell out my score/time. I realized it wasn’t a comparative thing with others. It was a statement of intention and a tracking of my own progress–which I began to see, celebrate, even marvel at. I simply had to find my way there. Five years and some later, I’m more often moving into Rx weights and WODs than I ever would have thought. I am stronger and healthier (fitter, if not fit in the CF training sense) than I have ever been, which I celebrate.

I love the intentionality of CrossFit, in the end, even as I recognize the complications that vary with each person. Some people come to just work out, without any sense of why we track WODs. Others thrive on the competitive energy, actually striving for better than in a collegial sense. We do help each other push into challenges in that way. I need that in order to stay accountable to my own fitness too.

Some of my intentions for this season, then:1) I’ve found myself moving into the spring-season with the urge to run more. (Strange! :)). So I dipped into the 10K app I have, wondering if I’ll train for a 10K this summer. 2) I treated myself to the PRVN Pull-Up Program for my birthday, mid-March. It’s taken me some time amidst work-family travel, but I started it this past week, continuing to get curious about how my lats and deltoids collaborate. (Things I never would have known to name five years ago).

And this week brings a specific sense of intention, in a different way. [As noted in the previous posting] Crossfit Dedication, the box that held such good space for my own deepening, decided to close by the end of April. Different phase of life, kids going into college, wanting a different era of life to unfold, the owners decided that eleven years was enough. I applaud their decision and celebrate the New with them. I am also needing to be intentional about honoring these early years for me…learning to grieve well, attentively...

1) Grief retail therapy: It was important to purchase the Rx wall-ball and plyo box, the 35# barbel and some basic plates, a heavier set of dumbbells as they sold off the gym equipment. They’ve become symbols of my own progress, my own tenacity to stay with discomfort zones as I train. That they come from my home-box matters to me.

2) It’s been important to touch in with friends from this original box, many of whom I haven’t been able to see very often as my work and life commitments pushed me to a CrossFit community closer to my home, Bomber’s CrossFit. I was fortunate to ease into this new space during the week, while staying in WOD-touch with my original box on the weekends. I grieve that I probably won’t see many of these folks, as we’ll have no reason to gather like we did.

3) And this final week, I’ve needed to be intentional in honoring “last times.” I went to a 5:30 a.m. WOD, aware it would be the last one there at CFD. This Sunday, I’ll enjoy the Open Gym as a “last time” there.

These intentions are no less important in my training than the physically-active or oriented ones, I’m realizing. Not everyone sets emotional goals, of course, as love and loss just happen as we grow. But such intentions aren’t the same as goals. Ritual intentions, being intentional about times/spaces, help my body move through the change. They allow me to honor and celebrate. They give me space and time to feel the changes. And yes, move forward more free to get curious, receive, explore what will be possible because of this ending...

So it was only natural for me to invite my now-friend, ex-coach, to become intentional on her own journey to "after" and the new. What actions or practices help us release the old so to receive the new? An elder in my life talks about the ritual actions we can take to make our departures conscious. It doesn't matter if we believe in such actions. They can be as simple as cutting a piece of yarn as we depart for the last time. Or enjoying a celebratory meal/event, to remember and imagine anew. The action itself is the significant gesture. I wonder what she will imagine for herself to honor and truly let go as a really great endeavor of her life comes to its conclusion...and new horizons open because of it?

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