Let’s be real: I was never going to go to the Crossfit Games. I was a sliding-into-her-40s stay-at-home mom who was looking for something to help keep the weight off. It’s not Crossfit’s fault that I fell head over heels in love with something I could never be good at. It’s not Crossfit’s fault that I got serious about something I should have taken lightly, or pushed myself past what my body wanted, or hated myself for not being able to master double-unders.


But after 4 years, I was so over it. I quit, determined never to go back. I told myself I hated Crossfit with a passion, and that yoga was more my speed. I was burned out, fed up, and tired. I took a year off.


So that was dumb. But it was necessary to get my head in the right place. I started back a few months ago, at a different gym where no one knew my name or my tendencies to hate myself. I could work out anonymously and rewrite my story.


And now, I’m back in love with Crossfit.


Here’s what I learned in my year off:


  • When you’re 40 (or 50 or 20 or whatever age you think is right), Crossfit is best in small doses every week. It’s not a great daily hobby for “mature” bodies.


  • Do something besides Crossfit that makes your training more meaningful. Yes, we love our traps and butts and abs, and that’s hella reason enough to go, but what about becoming a better biker or hiker or, for me, horseman? Now, everything I do IN the gym is informed by my hobbies OUTSIDE of the gym. I don’t make sacrifices for Crossfit; Crossfit makes sacrifices for me.


  • Your butt doesn’t stay high and tight doing only yoga. There is no substitute for heavy squats. I repeat: Squat. Heavy.


  • No one cares where you finish in a wod. If you do, that’s on you.


  • Pick a weight that makes your body happy. End of story.


  • You’re not a hero when you hurt yourself or push through injury. You’re just dumb. (4 fingers pointing back at me, people.)


  • You should leave Crossfit feeling better than when you got there, physically AND mentally. Short term AND long term.


  • Don’t put the keys to your happiness in a barbell’s pocket. The weight on the barbell does not determine your self-worth.


  • Don’t work out until you puke. Leave that to those who enjoy puking for fun.


  • Don’t judge your running speed based on those who run for fun. In fact, don’t compare yourself to anyone. For anything. Ever. Stay in your zone.


  • If you need to rest, rest. If you need to go fast, go fast. Listen to your body.


  • Take rest days. Take a walk. Take a nap.


  • Too much yoga will make you do dumb things like think about eating tofu.


  • There’s a yin/yang balance that needs to be maintained in our lives. Too much Crossfit turns me into an aggressive asshole. Too much yoga turns me into a spacey overly-emotional unicorn.


  • Never skip something fun (a day outside, a hike, a bike ride with your kids) for a wod.


  • Crossfit folks are the only ones who won’t judge your tendency to think avocados and whiskey are a perfectly acceptable dinner. I need those people in my life.


  • Do more mobility. The yogis are right. Don’t skip it, ever. And I’m not talking about some cursory hamstring rolling before the wod; I’m talking zeroing in on muscle insertion points and shoulder girdles.


  • You don’t have to tackle your goats unless you want to. This does not reflect badly on your character. I don’t want to do a HSPU. So I’m not gonna. And I’m not gonna feel bad about it either. I am terribly bad at overhead squats, but I could marry them, I love them so much. So I’ll work on them.


  • Crossfit is full of geeks, freaks, weirdos, and people who take themselves way too seriously. It’s a good tribe.


For those of you who don’t have any trouble being reasonable or moderate about stuff, this is probably a no-brainer for you, and you think I’m a raving lunatic. And you’re actually right about that.


But if, like me, you’ve cried in your car or told yourself you’re a shitty, lazy person because you’re slow at burpees, this is for you. I’ve seen you. I used to be like you. Don’t burn out – let Crossfit light a fire in you that will be sustainable for the long run.

Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash