When I was in college, my boyfriend of many years called me Olive Oyl. The reason for the nickname: the size of my biceps was essentially the same as my forearms. It is with deep regret I report to you some twenty years later that little has changed. Today, at age 39 years and 364 days, I set foot in a CrossFit determined to turn my pencils into pipes once and for all. I have enrolled in a two-week course called “On Ramping”, meant to teach you all of the basics of this program. If I am successful, I graduate to the standard workout classes in week three. My husband has been knee-deep in CrossFit for eighteen months, and he has been encouraging me to try this for some time.
The session started out on a relatively low-key note. As I lay stretching on the itchy strip of astro turf, I found myself feeling a little depressed that I’ve given up my spa-like health club for three months to give this a try. Spending a few hours at my club is like an outing to Nordstrom, and here I was at the Wal-Mart of gyms. I swallowed hard a few times, realized there was no smoothie counter or towel service in sight, and resolved to carry on.
We then got into the bulk of the workout, and I felt surprised by my competence. There were only four of us, and things were going just fine until the instructor made a point of telling us all how one of the women in our group can easily lift 100 lbs. Suddenly, my teeny biceps felt like quivering twigs on a tree in the wind. I wasn’t sure what was next, but if anyone asked me to lift more than 40 pounds, I was ready to claim that my cell phone was ringing and it could be the school nurse. In reality, I felt like I was the one coming down with a sudden stomach bug, but who needed to know?
Rowing and presses came next, and out came the timer. I use a timer at home to get my kids out the door to school, but the thought of someone standing over me as the clock ticked away made me very unsure of myself. The trainer asked me if I’d done any rowing, to which I said yes. “Eights or fours?” he asked. “Actually, dinghy,” I replied. In reality, the closest I’ve come to rowing was cheering on my prep school team at the Head of the Charles. Once the rowing was underway, the yelling and the music started. As I huffed and puffed, I looked towards the door, fully expecting Demi Moore to walk through the door with her shaved head and GI JANE army fatigues. I came in 4th out of four, in part because it took me about five minutes to get my feet unbuckled from the rowing machine each time.
The end of the workout was the icing on the cake: jumping rope. For someone who’s had three babies, jumping rope is not on the menu in terms of physical activities. It didn’t start out too badly, but by about the tenth jump, I was in all kinds of trouble. I explained that I had three young kids, thinking he would get it. His response? “I know it’s hard getting back into it, but do what you can.” I felt like saying, “You try shitting three watermelons after growing them for nine months at a time, and then let me know what sort of bodily function you have left down there.”
A few minutes later, we were done, and I was on my way. It was mostly as I expected, and I am certain tomorrow will be equally as interesting. As I ducked out right at noon, the trainer called over my shoulder, “We’re going to make you very strong, Brooke!” Likely possibility or great marketing? The jury will remain out on that for a few more weeks!