CrossFit-versary

It’s been approximately one year.since I joined CrossFit.  I can think of no other post than this one I wrote a few months back.

I truly consider CrossFit to the “bastard child” of fitness.  Damn, ain’t it great being the “black sheep”!?! Lol

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If you want to know what CrossFit is, in strictly technical, “I really have no idea of what it is” terms, then this is not the article for you.  You should go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CrossFit or http://www.crossfit.com to find out more.  Another option: Google “What is CrossFit?” and voila, instant-presto answer.

This *pause for effect*, is an “80’s baby” homage of sorts; a letter to the smart asses, nerds, geeks, gay-bi-trans, colorful folks and general social outcasts to tell them to rejoice: you have found your way and it’s through “CrossFit”. 

A menagerie of unfortunate [at the time] souls, we were the Middle School weirdos because we actually studied, the High School nerds that enjoyed reading, the College upstarts that dared to ask for a change from what had been the status quo in relation to Homecoming court (auto) selections, social injustice and the availability of something better than grilled cheese, hot dogs or Rice Krispie chicken (this was a real meal…) at the campus cafeterias.  Seriously.  How dare we want a fair voting process, impactful volunteer experiences, and  healthy food?  We didn’t pick on the weakest kid because it might have been us, or someone we were friends with; we ignored or only briefly flirted with the drug(s) of choice; so not cool according to the wasted bro who can barely stand up, let alone walk.  *Eyeroll*.

Essentially we aspired, and continue to aspire, to be more.

In perpetual social exile we were the kids picked last for kickball or double-dutch; the most disheveled at picture day; the most uncomfortable in our older siblings cast-offs.  We reviled the well-known “fact” that pink was for girls and blue for boys and preferred summer days watching Sci-fi marathons of “StarGate” and “Star Trek: Next Generation”, riding second-hand bikes while drinking “quarter waters”, fishing in dingy streams at the “secret fort”, reading DC and Marvel comic books until our eyes bled and/or catching “light bugs” in mason jars.  We avoided football two-a-days or roving packs of girls that incessantly cruised the local mall in way-too-bright-for-her-face makeup, high heels, butt-skimming skirts and attitudes that reinforced every negative thought possible about “it” teen girls with high, skin-peeling laughter that fervently reminded you of the hyenas in the “Lion King”.   

However, in a Box (CrossFit Gym), during a WOD or at a competition, we are the misfits at the top of this particular food chain.  If you have an issue with being close to or associated with the sexually liberated, people that represent the rainbow of cultures inherent to our country, strong willed and determined women, and/or the awkward basketcases that walk through CrossFit doors every day, you  need not apply to be among the “Fittest on Earth”. Those differences that force insecure people to react so negatively, – deru kugi ha utareru ‘the nail that sticks out gets hammered down’ –  are celebrated and embraced wholeheartedly.  Nothing brings people together, quite like a 25 minute conditioning WOD or a partner WOD with 4 events, or just laying on the ground, heart racing, sweating and trying to suck in as much air as possible before you (think you might) pass out.

Please.  Do keep walking into your globally-located, glass and chrome gym with the latest “Mark 47”, elliptical that only asks you to breathe as it does the work for you; you just need to stand there.  Feed your [somewhat] absurd need for a daily lemongrass protein smoothie from a state-of-the-art juice bar at $7 a pop.  That armor of familiarity that you jump into is like a warm safety blanket; a fleece snuggie complete with hood and mittens that CrossFit peels off layer by layer.  “Fran” ain’t about machines, comfort, warm lavender-scented hand towels expensive training sessions that provide limited results.  It’s about you, the WOD (Workout of the Day) and your  drive to gut it out; to finish; to not quit; to just keep going no matter how much it might burn.  Living on the fringe of acceptable society; looking at it from the outside teaches you how to take a few punches (literal and figurative), to wipe your face and to get back up.  To win simply by staying in the fight.  We compete with ourselves because, quite simply, we have to beat our own fears, doubts and conformist psyche into oblivion by getting incrementally better.  Every. Single. Day.

We embrace our outsider, thick-as-thieves and community driven ethos that is the cultural backbone of CrossFit.  We give back to members, kids and causes [Cupid’s Undie Run,  Steve’s Club] in ways that we can feel, see, touch; not just writing a check.  Crossfitters hang out, enjoy libations and talk in a language that will either intrigue you enough to learn more or scare you.   We set and hit goals, in life and in CrossFit. We have weird meaningful comic book-based, sci-fi, and meaningfully tattoos; sleeves and otherwise (very few barb wires here…).  We sport full or wacky beards, short-shorts, sparkly pants, shirts with fabled animals, interestingly placed body jewelry and truly embrace living life fully; to go up against ourselves, the elements, and others (during CrossFit Throwdowns or Competitions), and to win at the WOD by mentally compelling ourselves beyond the pain points that our brains keep throwing at us. We check our egos at the door and celebrate individualism together.  That concept alone likely boggles a few minds, so let me repeat it: we celebrate individualism, together; physically, mentally and verbally willing a boxmate to keep going.

Odds are slim that you will find much in the way of private, executive-level showers at a CrossFit Box.  Really, you’re lucky if there are showers available.   With industrial strength soap. I’m just saying.  *shrug*

What you will find are the gangly, awkward tall guys that were maligned for being exactly what they were.  Tall.  Right now his height and determination has him blowing through 1000M rows at about 3 minutes and 15 seconds. Crossfitters celebrate him and his accomplishment and expect him to aim for sub 3 minutes next time.

You’ll meet the former “fat girl” that was tortured for being overweight (read: not a size 4), who can deadlift and/or squat 1.5 times her weight, she’s a size 6  and she feels more confident, and looks a whole lot healthier, stronger and sexier than than that size 4 eating a romaine salad sans chicken, sans dressing, sans…everything.  Crossfitters commemorate her accomplishments and can’t wait to see her hit 2X her weight and enjoy some grass fed beef burgers with center-cut bacon.  

You’ll hear the about the African-American woman that is told by a parent, a friend, and/or a significant other [reality check: all of the above] that muscles aren’t attractive in her culture; that she’ll get “bulky” and look like a man if she does CrossFit.  That woman realized that they attempted to cage her and define her attractiveness, her appeal, without her permission or input.   Crossfitters remember every push up, pull-up and over head squat that she completes and tell her that to go live with her gun show, because if “sun’s out, guns are out”.

Cops, firemen, military, moms, dads, granddads, farmers, urban dwellers, emo’s, teachers, the home-schooled and the public raised; jocks that want to test their resolve with a chick named “Fran”; guys that never gave the smaller guy a hard time or reformed bullies that learned, through age and experience, to consider other people; people with Master’s Degrees, MD’s, PhD’s and every other level of degree.  The reality is that we could give a George Clinton, in House Party,  “Two tears in a bucket. Fuck it….” about all of those titles or “convenient definitions” that were so sarcastically & subtly celebrated in the “Breakfast Club”. Definitions that continue to resonate so well that I clearly used them, and other variations, in this post.

Through CrossFit you see us.  You see what we’ve become regardless of the social strata that we had to, and often continue, to live with.  You see us how WE want you to see us: as more just our less-than awesome years.  Crossfitters are the Outsiders all grown up, with awesome bodies, determined minds and a will to try that most can’t even comprehend.  We hold a hand out to help the person behind us and help them up after a body grinding WOD.  Crossfitters take responsibility for their actions- the simple process of putting our own weights back; of not having the expectation that someone will clean up after us, says a lot.  We don’t cheat reps (even when we absolutely, positively want to or consider it) because we understand that we are just cheating ourselves.  We high-five each other in the absolute most dorkiest of ways. We yell encouragement in the highest, most squeakiest of voices.  #LoveIt

Crossfit wouldn’t be what it is today if it weren’t for some most giving people: our coaches.  They are entrepreneurs that risked their futures, financial, social, etc., to do something different, to separate from the crowd and effect change in others.  Rebels in the health and fitness industry that saw fireworks go off in their heads and hearts when they stepped in a square room with black floors, bumper plates and a board with a WOD on it.

We former loners are Olympic Lifters, Runners, Rowers, Gymnasts, Swimmers, and more – all around athletes and teammates that accomplish more in one hour than most do in a week at a regular gym. Our successes translate to confidence in unfamiliar situations, drive and determination to do something different, a constant feeling of sexy (yeah, I said it.  We actually feel good about bodies) and we apply all that to our careers, lives, families, kids, marriages and/or partnerships. 

We take pride in rebelling against expectations that seem so out of touch with what we feel…what we know we are meant to do.  CrossFit is the rebellious teenager, that bastard child that understands that it will never truly be accepted in the mainstream fitness industry, even in spite of the backing of major shoe company endorsement and all (although, methinks that they  http://games.crossfit.com/ know that). 

That’s okay.  We Crossfitters keep plugging away; pushing, chipping, taking chances, seeing opportunities to use CrossFit for our next chapter.  We celebrate differences while coming together.We are more than people think possible. 

We are CrossFit. 

Cue the #RebelYell

M^2
Posted on run…

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Clutching at Straws

Hey ya’ll.  Soooo, yeah.  I’m feeling some kind of way today.

It’s pretty rare for me to get on my soapbox and go in on something or someone, but this morning I did…with aplomb.

Long and short of it, I woke up to a FB request for “thoughts” from a recent CrossFit convert (sipping the Kool-aid!).  He read an online article about African-American women and CrossFit: “Black Girls Run, Black Girls Bike, but do Black Girls CrossFit?”.

Needless to say, I read the article and reviewed all of the comments associated with it (now closed), took a few minutes to gather my thoughts and then went in on the article.  Here is what I said, with a few parts fleshed out for the blog world.

I’m very interested in all of your thoughts as well, so do me a favor and leave a comment.

About 7ish on a Sunday morn I typed in response to an inquiry as to my thoughts on the aforementioned article:

Clutching at Straws

The posting is inaccurate and does its best to reinforce stereotypes that do disservice to the reader.

I mean, really?

She [the author] doesn’t CrossFit and admits, blatantly, that she saw someone throwing up a few years ago at a box in in DC.

I’m going to bypass the fact that this article was posted on September 13th 2013, but she mentions something that she saw as she walked by “a few years summers ago”.  Actually, I’m not going to bypass that.  Point being: a few summers ago, I saw Serena Williams lose her cool and react poorly to a call from a US Open tennis umpire.

It didn’t cause me to wash my hands of her.  She recognized what she did, took a break and came back stronger than ever.  But maybe this is a poor example, because she was an established tennis star (through years of hard work, practice, injury and dare I say, probably a little vomit at some point).  But I digress, so let me get back to the main response.

By a show of hands, who here has never come close to vomiting at some point in a regular gym? At track practice?  Football two-a-days? 

There are many causes to vomiting, but for me personally a majority of the time it’s due to the type of food that was eaten and at what time (within an hour of working out) I ate it, combined with physical movements that jar the belly into discomfort.   It is extremely rare for me to get nauseous during a WOD and when/if I do, guess what: I slow down or I stop doing what I was doing.  As an side: I’ve almost thrown up at the smell of an overused, non-washed gym shirt that a grown maman felt the urge to wear while running next to me on treadmill at a global gym though, so #boom, any thing is possible.

Black Girls Run, Black Girls Bike, and yes, Black Chicks WOD

On top of that, I love her big up to Black Girls Run and Black Women Bike, two very awesome groups that are a huge part of pushing, pulling and encouraging women of African descent to get out there and run or bike together; but had she Googled “Black” and “CrossFit” lately she might have gotten a few hits to show that indeed, African-American Women do CrossFit.  They go by “girls”, “chicks”, “African-Americans”, “Blacks”, etc.  Heck, just hit Instagram one day, do a search under CrossFit and watch these hard-working women pop up.

That’s not to say that there isn’t some level of truth to the overall question (Do Black Women CrossFit?)  that was stated in the Clutch posting.  It is, however, to say that the evidence presented was limited in scope and didn’t do justice to the subject. To minimize and/or marginalize their existence to such a limited view is unwarranted and simply reinforces archetypes that are regurgitated without true consideration.  It accepts the view that because African-American women are not in your immediate view or surroundings that they are not doing something that might be dominated by Caucasians: Tennis. Swimming. Olympic Weight Lifting.  Science.  Mathematics. All have been historically dominated by people that do not look like me.  Heck in some areas we’re still in a hole when compared to other races.  #sotheeffwhat. There was a time when a plethora of sports didn’t have people of color leading the charge; basketball, football, baseball, soccer, etc. That changed over time.  CrossFit, being pretty darn young, will take time too.

Case in point, here’s another article that asks a similar question, but took the time to speak with folks that do actually CrossFit: “Who’s Really Left Out of the CrossFit Circle?”.

The, “I don’t see them [black women] when I pass my local CrossFit box in D.C. [which even though its ‘chocolatecity’, it’s really not that concentrated anymore]” is misguiding and therefore just as easily accepts that black women don’t hike, hate the rain, abhor the outdoors, or just plain lack athleticism outside of track and basketball.

I mean seriously, what typical gym do you go to where you see a truckload of black women in a given hour? That doesn’t mean they aren’t there.  As a matter of fact people of color; women of color are going hard at many different “sports”.  Zumba. Pilates. Yoga. Marathons. Swimming.  As long as you are moving, having fun, being healthy and doing you, what does it bloody well matter?  Is it now imperative to have a “Do Black Women Zumba? Pilates? Yoga?”? #IJS #domoreresearch

Could there be more of a concerted effort to get Black women into CrossFit?  Clearly that’s a “yes”, as um, yeah the title of this blog is “BlackChicksWOD”.

Speaking from the standpoint of someone who is slowly converting my friends one-by-one (I got 3 so far; two Black women and one Black guy), the reality is that people will not do anything until they feel comfortable or see the value in investing the money in it.  I can’t force anyone; I can only encourage, answer questions, write postings such as this, and highlight why I like this stuff so much that I go almost 5 days a week.

I got here because two other Black Women spoke to me consistently about CrossFit; one is in Cali. The other about 2 hours away from me.  I’m one of two Black Women in my afternoon class.  I’ve seen African-American women try the free class or do an intro month.  Some make it and some don’t.  That is their decision.  CrossFit, like many other forms of fitness/exercise, is not for everyone, however neither is it exclusionary.

Finally: a lot of coaches, trainers, workout enthusiasts, etc., SUCK at what they do.  One certification, does not make an awesome teacher.  Just like it doesn’t make you a great engineer, or a rockin’ gymnast.  It simply makes you minimally qualified and there are a lot of minimally qualified people at your local gym, your coffee shop, your nail salon, and your local fast food joint.  Like any person that you pay to work on your car, your house, your teeth or hair, you have the choice to stay, or go.  You decide if you want to pay or pass.

The reality though, is that it is your job, hell it’s your frickin DUTY to know when to say “no”.  Injuries are real, and I’m too old to get injured at this point as it would take me out of the gym for months and no, I really do not have time for that.

If it hurts, stop. If you need to do less, do less; drop the weight or do 5 push ups instead of 20.  Communicate old injuries to your trainer/coach, so he is aware. Listen to what your body is saying to you and, oh yeah, don’t equate the size of your “balls” or “(wo) manhood with how much weight you think you have to push.  Be smart.  Go slow.  Start low and increase over time. Learn proper form, over time.  Get better over time.  Take small wins and stack them, over time.

That’s it ya’ll.  I’m tired, it’s my bed time, I got 2 workouts on deck tomorrow and I’m already in the sleep negative.  All this work requires rest.  I hope to hear from folks.  Keep it clean, please! 

Follow me on IG: @blackchickswod.  If you like us and WOD, use the #BCWOD with your pics and be counted!!!

Toodles!

My Original BCWOD Inspiration!

Check out the chick that first got me to actually consider CrossFit! 

Way back in May 2012, I met Morgan at a conference in Las Vegas and although I worked out, she was flipping excited to hit a local box while I chose to workout by myself at the hotel provided by the gym.  #booooooooo

Watching Morgan transform herself through hard work, and being happy about it, got my ass in gear!

Watch Morgan at the 2013 RVA ALPHA STRONGMAN COMPETITON!!!!!!

Yeah.
#beatsmode
#whenigrowup

M^2
Posted on run…

InHueMag.com Interviews BCWOD!!!

Soooooo, just got my first interview in the bag!  Check it out!!!

InHueWordPressLogoREAL

 

 

 

The CrossFit phenomena, explained

Was it accurate?  Did they get it just right?  Let me know your thoughts!

Why Black “Chicks” vs. Black”Girls”?

So why did I choose to go with the word “chicks” vs. “girls” for this adventure?  Let’s break it down:

  1. BlackGirlsRun!, founded in 2009, is focused on introducing, and connecting  African-American women to running and all the benefits that come with it.  Highly aware of the excessive rates of diabetes, heart disease and obesity rates within the black community  BGR sought to get black women moving through the power of community.  The two ladies who started it should be commended, applauded and congratulated for all of their hard hard work and I in no way want to take away from that by having a similar name.
  2. Chicks rock!  Seriously, a chick is willing to do what it takes to improve, do more and get better.  We are intrinsically against resting on our laurels.  Want to try rock climbing? Schedule it.  Not sure about barre Pilates   Try it.  Got a yearning to learn cross-functional movements and constantly varied workouts?  Sign-up for that next free CF class…heck just schedule the foundations/essentials class.  You know you’re investing in your long-term development.

Thanks for bearing with us as we continue to build the site.  Feel free to provide suggestions on tags, categories, topics and more.  You make this happen…I just document it.

M^2