A Drop In’s First CrossFit Experience
It was a frosty Omaha morning outside the unassuming warehouse-turned-CrossFit box on Nicholas Street. Inside, excited voices and encouraging words could be heard from participants and coaches alike. They blended with upbeat music and the flurry of activity to produce a signature CrossFit gym feel. That morning, we were completing the first of a series of nationwide “CrossFit Open” workouts that would be released over the next several weeks. The additional camaraderie generated by the Open enhanced the instant bonds between our small group as we sweated our way through the WOD.
Although I had only tried CrossFit once or twice in the past, the gym atmosphere wasn’t new to me. At 26 years old, I have been a part of the fitness world in various capacities for years. I played collegiate basketball and ran track. I have also participated in triathlons and short-distance running events, and know my way around your average gym. The environment I experienced that morning was a nostalgic return to a feel I have craved since graduating from college sports — a group of people doing something physically, mentally, and emotionally taxing together. Nothing builds camaraderie like facing a task that looks insurmountable and then making ourselves accomplish it. And the fact that the workout of the day was not just a normal workout but in fact the first workout (otherwise known as 18.1) of CrossFit’s qualifying Open season leading up to an international competition only added to the excitement.
Back to the Story
So there I was, relishing re-entering a gym environment. I was busy remembering what it was like to work against fatigue when I was inconveniently interrupted. Looking down at my hands, I saw blood start to emerge from where calluses had ripped off. I hadn’t even noticed when it happened, but a few too many hanging knees-to-chest on hands still new to CrossFit had been too much for them.
A coach came over over and gave me a pep talk, assuring me that I could stop the workout or switch out the exercises for things that wouldn’t exacerbate my hands which were now threatening to leak blood all over the equipment. He underestimated my stubbornness. We managed to wrap up the tears with athletic tape and finish the workout while trying to avoid complete contamination (any evidence of which was quickly and attentively cleaned after I finished the workout — kudos to the coaches and their effective cleaning supplies).
The clock expired and we drew to a halt as one tired mass. As I panted and looked down at the blood-stained tape, I couldn’t help but smile. Annoying? Yes. But the coaches each gave me tips on how best to get my hands back into shape, how to protect them in the future, and stories about their own hand tear experiences. In a way, it felt like a rite of passage. Anyone who bleeds during a workout and doesn’t give up is hardcore, right? At most other gyms, you probably wouldn’t have someone to help you patch up your ripped hands. In fact, you might never have generated the intensity to rip your hands open in the first place. It was a welcome back into a community where getting better is a given, and relationships are the norm. Though I don’t hope to rip my hands open again, I wouldn’t trade it. I look forward to many more hard workouts and good conversations with this bunch (as well as finishing the remaining 4 weeks of the Open).