This month, FIREGROUND360° members have the opportunity to get handed a 3 month membership to Pioneer Valley CrossFit. So what’s the big deal? Why should you throw your name in? For starters, it could change your life… or your pant size… or your eating habits… or the way you see fitness. It can make you a better firefighter, police officer, dispatcher, soldier, or EMT. It can give you energy you didn’t know you had and you will likely sleep better. Don't believe me? Take this opportunity to give it a try. It’s hard to understand what a big deal this is if you have never tried it. Many people hear the word Crossfit and immediately think of sweaty, shirtless, ripped people lifting tons of weight. But in reality, Crossfit is a fun way for regular people to workout together and get in shape. I’d like to take a moment to share my experience with the hope that it may resonate with you and give you the strength to walk in the door.
Here’s my story…
Oh man. The first time I tried CrossFit I swore I would never go back. I was out of shape, embarrassed that I didn't even have the flexibility to do simple bodyweight movements, and felt like everyone else seemed to have it down pat. I have always enjoyed sports but was never a superstar athlete. I had a globo-gym membership where I would use the treadmills, elliptical, and maybe the leg press a few times a week. Not surprisingly, I never got any faster, thinner, or stronger despite having a membership for several years. My membership was merely $10 a month and, if nothing else, it was a bargain price for all the magazine subscriptions I was able to read while I was there.
My then boyfriend (now husband) had seen a CrossFit flyer at the fire station and had decided to give it a try. He would come home and tell me about the different workouts and say how much he liked it. He kept suggesting that I give it a try but I didn't think it was for me. I didn’t know anything about weightlifting and I wasn't very strong. Certainly this kind of gym was designed for super-duper hardcore fitness freaks, chiseled military soldiers, and personal trainers, right? However, after a couple months of listening to his CrossFit stories and workouts, I finally agreed to check it out. Just to be clear, I had absolutely no intention of actually joining… I just wanted to see what the heck he was talking about. I was intrigued that he actually liked it so much because it was three times more expensive than his traditional gym membership, he could only go during specific class times, and the place looked like an old garage. Curiosity got the best of me and I decided to scope it out.
During my first class at CrossFit, I was out of breath during the warm-up, couldn’t do an air-squat without falling over, and had absolutely no coordination. It was an epic fail. After swearing off CrossFit forever and giving my boyfriend the cold shoulder for days, he begged me to give it just one more try. He asked me to go back one more time and promised I was free to walk away after that. It took a lot of convincing but eventually I agreed… deal. Anything to get him off my back. So, I mustered up all my courage, checked my ego at the door, and walked back in for what I planned to be the last time. As I walked into the room, there was a tall, athletic woman standing there with the most muscular, toned arms I had ever seen. My initial thought was, “Ugh. Here we go again…” and I decided right then that this was going to be awful. She was so fit and I felt even more inadequate. However, like a true CrossFitter, she smiled at me, introduced herself, and proceeded to cheer me on during the workout even though I was the last one to finish. Despite my bleak performance, by the end of the class I was actually smiling, laughing, and starting to see how this could maybe, just maybe, be a little fun. A light bulb went on and I realized this place might not be so bad after all.
CrossFit really is a journey. It’s not the kind of gym you sign up for six weeks before spring break so you can lose a few pounds for the beach. It is an entirely new approach to fitness and healthy living that can’t help but seep into every aspect of your life. Within the first couple months, I was already seeing so many improvements. I was losing weight, getting stronger, learning new movements, and building up my confidence. I practiced my overhead squat in my kitchen with a broomstick over my head, I jumped rope in my driveway, and I lunged around the backyard. I had started in April and by July I got my first unassisted pull-up and had finally gained enough strength to do a pushup off my knees! I was hooked. I started to wonder what else my body could do. I went five days a week and loved every sweaty moment.
After two years, I was really feeling like I was in peak condition when I learned that I was pregnant… with twins, no less. As excited as I was about my pregnancy, I was worried that I would lose all the progress I had made and would never be in this shape again. It was also a huge mental shift to go from getting faster, stronger, and better workout times to slowing down, substituting movements, and lifting less weight. I would look around the room and see other people making significant gains while I was huffing and puffing in the corner next to a big fan. At times I was discouraged and frustrated that everything I had worked for was slipping away. That is when I learned an important lesson: Someone else’s progress has no bearing on my own success. It’s not like there is only so much of it to go around and there wouldn’t be any left for me. I needed to focus on my own journey and make new goals. As much as I have enjoyed the competitive aspects of CrossFit, it was important to strictly focus on my own body, my own needs, and redefine my idea of success. I ended up CrossFitting throughout my pregnancy and, with the exception of heartburn and indigestion from my growing belly, my pregnancy was a breeze. I never once had an ache, pain, complication, or even a moment of nausea. I am certain that CrossFit is to credit. Many people think about losing weight after a pregnancy and getting back into shape once the baby is born. However, the best thing I ever could have done (and I only learned this in retrospect) was to get in shape before I was pregnant. What a novel idea...
Without a doubt, CrossFit is different now that I have two special little boys in my life. Some days it feels like being their mommy is enough of a workout for me. There are days that I can’t get to the gym because I have a sick kid, they have a birthday party to attend, or they napped an hour longer than I thought they would. It’s not nearly as easy to eat a strict diet when I'm juggling the needs of four people and not just my own - not surprisingly, an omelet won't cut it for dinner four nights in a row like my single days. It’s also all too easy to pop those little Goldfish right into my mouth when they are floating around. And when the boys come with me to the gym, I know that it’s fair game to be interrupted in the middle of my best workout to change a diaper or mediate a fight for the Nerf football. Even though it seems like all the stars have to align for me to get to CrossFit, I know that I always feel better when my day includes a workout. I was initially hooked when I started to see physical results and lose weight, but that is no longer my motivation for going. I go for “me time,” to clear my head, to have a physical challenge, and to break a sweat. For the record, I haven't lost a single pound since I shed my pregnancy weight four years ago… but I can't even begin to count the number of stressful moments that have slipped away after walking in the door. I am definitely not the strongest, fastest, or fittest woman in the gym but I am undoubtedly the strongest, fastest, and fittest Loren I have ever been. That is all that matters.
My goal is to workout four times a week - it feels like a good balance between kids, home, work, and play. Some of my friends think that’s a lot but I disagree. By my calculations, there are 168 hours in a week and I want four of them for myself. The rest of my time I devote entirely to everyone else. I certainly have a long list of things I could let eat up my sacred four hours at CrossFit but I don’t. I try hard not to schedule appointments, run errands, or attend meetings during the morning workout times. I am certain that taking that time for myself actually makes me a better mommy to my kids, for countless reasons.
Although I have been at PVCF for almost six years now, I am still being challenged and inspired on a daily basis. Instead of being amazed at the 22 year old who can bang out push-ups, I'm in awe of the 62 year old grandmother who is lifting weights next to me. I really hope fitness is still a priority in my life a few decades from now. I am so glad that I didn’t let my self-consciousness hold me back from trying something new. After all these years, CrossFit hasn't lost its luster… it just keeps evolving. I continue to learn new movements, work on my form, and discover what this body of mine can (and sometimes can’t) do. When I see a new person walk in the door, my heart always goes out to them because I know how much courage it can take to just show up, nevermind be the last one to finish. CrossFit can feel intimidating and it’s easy to assume that everyone in the room just woke up magically fit one day and have always loved working out. But let me assure you, that’s not the case. If anything, most were just as scared to try it, if not more.
I hope to see you at Pioneer Valley CrossFit and I can't wait to read your story in 90 days!
Copyright 2014 FIREGROUND360°. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the consent of FIREGROUND360° and it's authors.
Loren Davine, M.Ed., C.A.G.S., is the Executive Director of NoFires, Inc. and a former high school guidance counselor. She is also a full-time mom and the wife of Deputy Chief Jon Davine. Loren has been a member of Pioneer Valley Crossfit since 2008 and offers a unique perspective to our community on family, fitness, and fire safety for juvenile firesetters.
Loren can be contacted at:firstname.lastname@example.org for questions about the NoFIRES program or to make a referral. All other inquiries can be made to:email@example.com
This blog is sponsored by Pioneer Valley CrossFit,
Copyright FIREGROUND360°. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the consent of FIREGROUND360° and it's authors.