Become a Better Person with a Little Experimentation

Party“Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an
experiment. The more experiments you make the better.”

  – Ralph Waldo
Emerson

Have you ever let fear or shyness stop you from trying new things? These culprits can get in our ways all of our lives, keeping us from gaining new experiences and reaching new heights, and our fitness life is no exception. It is easy to get into a comfortable routine. Whether that be sticking to one sport or doing the same workout week-in, week-out in the weight room.

Crossfit definitely tries to deter this state of familiarity and comfort. It’s all about  variety and pushing beyond the comfort zone. It has certainly pushed me to try new things, not just in the box, but outside as well. I’ve run more 5Ks and 10Ks and even completed a Spartan Race. Things I never would have done before Crossfit. Just about anything with fitness I would be willing to test out, except for one little thing. . . Strongman.

But Oh How Things Change

This weekend I didn’t just try out Strongman training for the first time, I competed in a Strongman Competition.

Before  my gym Gorilla Crossfit & Strength Training, became the only Strongman training facility in Middle Georgia, I knew very little about the sport. I had no idea how popular it actually was. Suddenly all these big, bearded, burly men (and a few women, too!), began lumbering into the gym to lift beer kegs and carry death traps stacked with plates.  Now I am no stranger to lifting heavy things, but what these people did seemed unnecessary and fairly dangerous (In retrospect, I was showing the same  biased that many Crossfit dissenters possess.  Why can’t we all just be friends?). So I didn’t immediately hop on the strongman train, instead I sat and watched in confusion and horror as our men and women trained.

Until last Thursday. . .

Last Thursday, our gym owner and coach, Hal, asked me about my weekend plans. Since the gym is bae, they didn’t involve much. He told me about a Strongman Competition happening about an hour North. The competition was a charity event for Multiple Sclerosis, but not many participants had signed up. Hal, being the lovable lug he is, was determined to get as many people from our box involved, to support the cause and the other box. I reluctantly agreed…for charity.

Here are the events they released:
Event 1: Crossfit Totals
Event 2: Clean & Jerk Ladder
Event 3: Burden Run

See, it didn’t seem too awful. The first two workouts are frequent visitors to our box. I knew I wouldn’t be standing on any podiums this weekend, since strength isn’t exactly my powerhouse (I’m more about endurance and speed), but that just took even more pressure off the event. The Burden Run gave me some hope. Being 5’11”, I can usually outrun all the other Crossfit women, who seem to rarely make it past 5’5”. However, I had no idea what “burden” could mean, so this competition was simply going to be a fun way to spend my Saturday, surrounded by my boxmates.

The Big Reveal

When we got to the gym, and the burden run was revealed, my spirits dipped even further. The event was moved to first, since it would be occurring outside and the forecast called for a steamy 97 degrees.

Here is how the event went down:

Burden Run

30 Hammer Strikes 15/10
200 m Sandbag Carry (3 Sandbags) 65/45
30 m Sled Drag 3-45s/2-45s
12 Stone to Shoulder 115/95/65
18 OH Axle Bar Lunges 125/95/65

All of my hopes of acing this “run” went right out the window. Never in my life had I slung a hammer, dragged a sled, lifted a stone, or touched an axle. Neither had most of the other 9 competitors we brought that day. Hal gave us a brief intro on lifting the Atlas Stone, but then we were basically on our own. For this first event, we broke into 10 heats of two competitors. I was in heat 4. As I watched the other heats running through it, I can’t
say my spirits got any brighter. Although I began the workout fairly unenthusiastic ally, as I suffered through each movement, the adrenaline and competitve spirirt started to encroach. The pivotal moment was at the Atlas Stones. I threw six over the right, gasping in pain every time the stone knocked against my bony shoulder (best believe I have some nice bruises to show off). But suddenly, when I went to throw the last six over my left shoulder, the movement suddenly became easier and somewhat. . .  FUN! Maybe I lost my mind due to exhaustion or I’m a closet masochist, but through the torture that was the first workout, I went through a transformation. I was transformed from a strongman dissenter to a true strong(wo)man. Will I start throwing  stones, pressing logs , and deadlifting cars in my spare time? Who knows. But I will look at those men and women who come to our gym and train with a brand new understanding and admiration.

The Lesson

I didn’t earn a podium spot this weekend, but I gained a new perspective and a little lesson for you: so do not be quick to judge and do not be afraid of new experiences. This was my “experiment” for the weekend, and it certainly made me better. Go experiment for yourself in the gym or anywhere else for that matter. You might just come out a better person.

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