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 First 5K!

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So, as you can tell from the title, I ran my first 5K EVER!

I did the Electric Run in Washington, D.C. at National Harbor at 8PM on September 7th and it was pretty rad!

Basic premise: be a glow worm while running 3.5 miles in whacked out clothing, make up and face paint. Many people showed up in tutus, bright pink wigs, striped socks, neon yellow shorts and more glow sticks than you ever want to see again in your life; let alone at Halloween.

I went there in standard gym fare (top, bottoms, headband), as I pretty much forgot about the event until I got an email reminder. My concession: I wore light blue to match my running sneakers, instead of my standard black-on-black.

The energy surrounding that place though, wow…it was surreal! I had almost a two-hour wait (after an 1.5 hour drive/stuck in traffic scenario!) and the people were so nice! One young lady offered my boxmate and I the use of her neon body paint..we went nuts. Of course I then go with with a purple “predator” mark on one cheek, and a nice blue “rosy” blush on the other, and stripes on one arm a la “Avatar” (geek alert!).

While sitting and waiting for the race to start, an enterprising soul came over to the table and offered to spray paint designs on us for free if we walked around and sent her the business! One young lady got leopard print, which looked crazy dope on her; so we all got them. *wipes off neon rosy cheek*
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Needless to say, ya girl walked that sucker twice and was well rewarded! I went back and got my arm leopard-ized as well. After all of that we were ready to go!

We lined up and proceeded to wait about 40 minutes for our section to be let loose. The Electric Run staff kept us entertained; interacting with the crowd, throwing glow wands and sticks, playing good music.

The crowd was freaking awesome; a multicultural stew of everything and every body type. Grandparents ran, kids ran (with little angel wings! Lol), people in wheelchairs and kids in baby carriages (a smidge dangerous as there was no designated space for them, but we all made it work); everyone came out to have some nighttime fun while running.

Check these pics:

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The biggest part?
I actually ran…as in I kept up with my boxmate, who ran a half marathon earlier this summer, and didnt slow her down. There was one point where I felt like my left calf was burning in the fires of hell, but we paused long enough to stretch it out and kept going.

I, yes ME, did 3.5 miles in about 30 minutes and didn’t feel the urge to hurl afterwards; I was actually freakishly energized!

I’m so happy I did that run! It shows me that I have definitely been underestimating myself…I can do more than I think. I just have to do it! And I did!
#cuehystericallaughter

Anyone else had this experience? Please feel free to share!

M^2
Posted on run…

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…

Hell nah I’m not doing it twice!

So, lets talk frankly for a second here:
I’m in the CrossFit Open, after doing CrossFit for less than 5 months. I am in my 30’s (inching closer and closer to my pseudo-midlife crisis of single, sexy and no prospects lol), have never been injured and continue to surprise myself with what I have been able to achieve with my CrossFit program.

However, after all of that, the main reason I decided to do the Open, was because I wanted to see where the “holes” are concerning my abilities with strength, cardio, etc. I figure, hell, it’s $20 bucks…the point is to learn all I can from those around me, my coaches, and my competition. That is exactly what I’m doing. Each Open WOD showed me EXACTLY what I need to focus on: 13.1 Snatches/Olys/Form, 13.2 Box Jumps/Cardio/Endurance,13.3 sheeeeeeeeeet. Something lol!

So when my box mates were like, “Hey, are you doing it again?”, (“it” being a repeat of 13.2 to potential improve my total reps) I was like “Hell nah!”, because really, I have to make it through the rest of this Open competition and, believe it or not, I’m flipping tired lol.

A lot of these folks are early/mid 20’s, grad students or early career folks; I’m slighly past that stage. Although, real talk, a Master’s (45+) chick beat my reps too (but only by a bit…and she’s a freaking competitor in the summer league!! I totally aspire to be like her!!). On St. Patricks Day, I sat home and drank tea, ate paleo pumpkin muffins and watched “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” (awesome!). That is my idea of a good time. No really, that’s my good time.
That and sleep. Lots of good, deep, soul-calming sleep lol.

With that said: I will continue documenting my “holes”, to determine how I should adjust my program to get better, so that next year I don’t feel like I’m going to pass out because of a few box jumps or throw my back out because my deadlifts turn into “Good Mornings”.

Once is more than enough this time around!
#Toodles

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CrossFit Open 13.1: Virgin no more!

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Score: 137 Reps and 16:17 for time!

Came in 6th out of all the chicks that competed! I did better than a good number of men!

*stunned*

No longer a CrossFit Competition virgin, last night in heat 2, I did my best to not pass out, cough up phlegm (caught a cold 2 days ago) or embarrass my box, my friends that came out, or myself. 

I mean seriously, if you’re going to wear “Wonder Woman” wrist wraps, you damn well best not come in last, ya dig?

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Outfit complete with my new wrist wraps, my “5 Weeks, 5 WODs shirt, my Lululemon heqdbqnd and Nike gloves, I probably looked just a little “cray, cray”, but OMG I had so much fun!

My cheering section was out in full force! Through the haze of exhaustion, I could hear them keeping me in check: “Keep your feet together”, “Drop the bar”, “Get on that bar”, “You got 10 more!”, “Gooooooo!”.   I’m so freaking grateful to have had that in my corner…and so completely humbled by it.

Now that it’s over, I can’t help but think: “If this was the first week, what the hell is next weeks going to look like?” 

But in reality, does it even matter? I’m doing it no matter what.  I’m having fun, challenging myself and living to tell the tale.  That works for me!

Pictures are coming y’all…standby.

Slow & Steady

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Often I see some boxmates (typically guys, but chicks too) loading a lot of weight up. They want to show, others, that they can move weight during the strength training. Everybody wants a chance to show off, including myself…but at this stage of the game (and age), I would rather take my time and build up, over time, to heavy weights, than rush it.

I spotted a boxmate today that was squatting heavy..which is fine. What wasn’t fine was how poor her form was…she could have got the bar up if she followed the.mechanics. She didn’t have it down, she didnt know how to drop the bar safely, the bar fell and it dinged my forearm. I have a slight bruise that will go away with some ice..no biggie. But it could have been.

The weights, bars, bad form…they can hurt you or someone else (ME!) so please be careful. Don’t be in such a hurry to look good, but not be good.

Remember the Tortoise and the Hare (yeah, yeah, I know, old school, but on point)…that half-shell might have gone slow, but he still won.

Btw: New PR Today 200# Back Squats

I started this past October having to swallow my ego at being told I was doing them incorrectly; facing the bar/rack the wrong way and not engaging my lats, abs or butt. #slow&steady