The First Days

A guest post by Jenn Hogan

         Kim recently asked us to think back about our first workout at Crossfit St. Charles.  For me, that question brought on a plethora of emotions and memories.  The first time I walked into the doors of Crossfit St. Charles will always be clear in my head.  But what was my actual first workout after the demo… that was failing my memory.  This is because for me, instead of the actual workouts, my time at Crossfit St. Charles is mostly remembered by how moments made me feel instead of the details of the movements.  This stems from the amazing people we are surrounded with and how our members always lift you up.   Luckily for me, one of Kim’s many talents is an amazing memory, and she reminded me today of what the actual workout was.  Deadlifts and rowing.  

Deadlifts and rowing.  Today, that workout would pretty much put me on a level of a sugar high. Two of my favorite movements.  But in March 2012? I was terrified. I was fresh off a Demo session where I almost died during the 2 min warm up of jumping rope.  Picture an uncoordinated disaster, basically the equivalent of an elephant on a walk, that was startled by a spider, and was trying to jump over the spider and happened to have a jump rope. More stomping on the ground and tripping over the rope than actually jumping rope.  And I was exhausted from it.  Somehow, I managed to make it through Baseline and realized I was nowhere close to the level of fitness I thought I had. 

So, the first day.  Back then classes were split up with “Beginner Crossfit” and “All Level Crossfit.”  The more advanced people were at 8am and the beginners came at 9am.  So I showed up at around 8:45 with my heart beating out of my chest before I even walked.  I was so nervous. In the 8am class there were athletes like Jenn Elfrink and Stefany Knobe. They made it look easy. We’re talking repping out ring dips and pull ups and double unders.  My immediate thoughts? I don’t belong here. What am I doing? These people are AMAZING and I don’t even know what a deadlift is. There’s no way I’ll ever do a pull up. I stayed anyway.  I got on the rower and pulled with only my arms instead of using my legs. (Flashback to my first basketball practice when I accidentally defended my own teammate.). The chain banged on the rower.  I didn’t even know how to have my feet in it. Then came Kim who fixed it all. Made me feel comfortable even though I was mortified. You see, Kim is some kind of angel that knows everything and before I knew it, I at least didn’t look like someone you see on a viral video that thousands of viewers would die of laughter watching. On to the deadlifts.  Now this is fun.  I’m still clueless and I have no hamstring mobility and why is even holding the barbell so hard? I feel so weak.  All I can think about is how badly I want to be strong.  I don’t remember what weight I lifted.  I just remember the feeling of a barbell in your hand for the first time and knowing that I needed more of this in my life.  Suddenly it’s time to start the WOD. 3-2-1 GO.  I go off like a bat out of hell.  And I’m dying immediately. I can’t breathe. This is surely what heart attacks feel like.  But at the end??? Everyone is congratulating each other. Wow, that was exhilarating. I didn’t know you could feel this way after a workout!!! I can’t believe I finished it!  

I walked out that door and went home and was in my bed for hours because I was so tired.  My muscles just would not move. How do people go to crossfit and function like normal people???? 

The next few months were filled with so much learning.  My classes were taught by Kim Wilkes, Chris Glover, and The Leander Duo. The expertise they brought was incredible. The laughter was uplifting. The workouts about killed me and I was still dead to the world for hours after class.  This was mostly because I have a competitive spirit inside of me that doesn’t die down easily.  I kept going like a bat out of hell. 

Squats were scaled to the point where I basically just sat on a box or a ball and stood back up. People lapped me every single day. I spent every morning before class youtubing the movements.

I was surrounded by phrases like “Your hips should be moving violently. It’s a violent movement.” And I was like OMG Kim, I cannot believe we are talking about moving my hips violently in a room full of people… But hey- it’s true. Like 90% of the movements require some serious hip people. You learn to get over yourself pretty quickly in crossfit.  We are all doing the same thing, get your hips moving! 

All I knew back then is I didn’t want to give up. I wanted to get better.  Crossfit St. Charles had awakened something within me. I kept upping my membership so I could come more.  I stopped skipping workouts I was scared of or knew I would be terrible at.  My motto to this day is: just show up. 

Then things started happening.  Kim was telling me I was strong. I didn’t believe her still, but I liked where things were going. I was getting somewhere.  Back squats were weighted now. I maxed my deadlift. It was 178lb.  I maxed by back squat, it was 125. I could actually strict press more than just the barbell.  I thought what I was doing was hard.  Then I think Chris Glover stopped taking it easy on me.  There’s two days that stand out. 

Day one.  The workout included ketllebell swings and running.  That’s all I know.  I picked my weight and went on with the workout.  I was actually moving pretty fast! I came back in and picked up the kettlebell and suddenly I was crushed with the feeling of some real weight.  It was like a gut punch. What happened? I looked around. Glover is looking at me with an amused facial expression and a kettlebell by his feet.  I asked, “Did you switch my weight out!?”  He replied, “you’ll be fine.” And I was. Then I realized I was at the moment you settle for a slower time so you can add heavier weight.  I was more motivated than ever after that. 

Day two.  The workout was 1 rep max back squat day again.  I did what I thought was heavy.  Then Glover came up.  He added more weigh on and told me to keep going. He did it again. And again. And again.  I had no idea what the weight was until the end. He had me go until I failed.  I learned two very valuable lessons that day.  

1. I had no idea what Heavy was until that day.  Heavy is your legs shaking. Heavy is feeling a little dizzy.  Heavy is having nothing left in the tank. 

2. It is okay to fail. It’s not embarrassing. It’s part of the learning process and figuring out where you are.  

Looking back on those first days is really astonishing.  Crossfit St. Charles is a special place.  I could talk for hours about it.  Kim has lifted me up when I needed it the most without even knowing it.  The members are truly a family.  And while yes, I am no longer afraid to lift heavy or jump rope for 2 minutes straight, what is really incredible is how Crossfit St. Charles can grow you as a person. It can make you happy when you are feeling your worst- in 60minutes.  You learn to do things you never, ever thought were possible.  The people you meet are second to none and will fill you with joy. I am full of gratitude for knowing Crossfit St. Charles and the journey it has taken me on. The only thing I have lost is my pants, because you know, quad gainzzzz 😉

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