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2 time ovarian cancer Survivor, Advocate for ovarian cancer awareness & research, Teacher of Zen Method Tai Chi, Blogger, sharing the wonderment and power of essential oils, proud fan of Cathe Friedrich's workouts, Reiki practitoner, A Course in Miracles student, paper crafter

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Crossing CrossFit


The day after I first published this post fellow blogger, Memphian and cancer Survivor Chris published an awesome CrossFit post. I felt like his post should be included. What Exactly Is CrossFit by chris beat cancer  offers a successful Survivor doing CrossFit perspective. You have my total respect, Chris. 

If you've never heard of it, just don't know much about it, or if you need some fresh exercise ideas spend some time perusing CrossFit Exercises. Be warned- you could be there all day.

Amazing. Crazy. Ultra-challenging. Inspirational. Unfathomable at times. Awesome. And just a tad intimidating. Right?

I have a connection to CrossFit, if you can believe it. This past February through April I participated in an online bloggers body challenge hosted by Strong is the New Skinny bloggers Marsha and Adam. No, I didn't follow a paleo way of eating. No, I didn't do any CrossFitting. But I rubbed virtual elbows with some very cool paleo eating CrossFitters. Remember? It was inspiring.

Since I completed this challenge I've had a lingering curiosity about CrossFit and the paleo way of eating. It whispers to me, eggs me on. Taunts me. I felt pretty safe because I didn't think there were any CrossFit gyms (is that what they're called?) in Memphis. No, I didn't bother checking or searching. I just assumed, and you know how that goes. 

Then I went to my suburb's first farmer's market a couple Saturdays ago and found myself standing in front of a CrossFit gym. Then I found myself standing INSIDE said CrossFit gym. That's right- 

CrossFit Bartlett played a very big role in bringing a farmer's market into the community, and I'm very grateful. So on the market's opening day the gym was offering a free look-see and workout. I was so excited when the lady at the snow cone booth told me about it! (Yes, I'm aware of the irony.) Beyond excited, really. Crazy excited, and giddy. I couldn't wait to go check it out!! 

So my mom and my sister's 3 toddlers and I went in. That's right- all of us. Thankfully, this gym is fairly kid friendly and had some toys. I'm pretty sure there wasn't any A/C though. It was really hot and humid that day. 

It didn't look like any gym I'd ever seen before, but it was the coolest gym I've ever seen. It was also the scariest and most mysterious gym I've ever seen. I wasn't dressed for any kind of workout and had on the wrong shoes, so I was going to just observe. I was disappointed and relieved at the same time. 

The owner of the gym and one of the trainers talked with me for a few minutes. I found myself signing up for a free one on one introduction workout. One of the members- a very kind man- came over to me and explained how the gym worked. I appreciated that act of kindness very much!! I was pretty surprised (and disheartened) that none of them had even heard of Cathe Friedrich, though. 

I watched members perform exercises that I wouldn't think would be humanly possible. 

This is some version of a hybrid pull-up/core exercise. Seriously, I watched a guy jump up and grab the bar then pull his toes up to his fingers. My jaw was on the ground. I'm quite sure that I couldn't have even jumped up and held onto the bar. 

The longer I watched and took it all in, the more out of place and uncomfortable I felt. I felt weak and flabby-like an ugly scarred unpopular fat girl that didn't fit in. It was a bummer, because I had been looking forward to the CrossFit experience for quite awhile.

I had found out just a few days before this that I have an incisional hernia, and had been cautioned by my oncologist to wear a very stylish compression belt when I workout. It didn't seem logical that CrossFitting was to become a part of my life. Even more secretly, I wish it could be. 

I left before the exhibition workout started. The kids were antsy and it was really hot. I had to get out of there. I was ball of emotion, and was close tears. I can't do CrossFit workokuts, I knew it in my soul as I walked out the door. I felt very disappointed and frustrated with this body that has survived cancer twice. My oldest niece asked me why we were leaving, and I started crying when I told her the truth- Aunt Connie can't do this, honey. I hated having to tell her that truth. Since the end of chemo 10 months ago I've brought this body and mind a really long way (I thought), but being there made me feel like it wasn't good enough. I don't want to feel like I'm not good enough. 

I couldn't stop thinking about it, though. I had set an appointment, remember? I called my oncologist on Monday, asked the burning question and waited for a call back. My soul was right, I can't do CrossFit according to my oncologist. She thought it was pretty crazy to even consider it, actually. She's probably right, but I didn't like hearing it. 

I'm disappointing and frustrated about it, and a bit relieved too. I felt embarrassed writing the 'sorry I have to cancel my appointment' email to the owner and trainer, but they were both gracious and understanding. 

So, I came across CrossFit, and had to cross it out. 

Perhaps after I lose my extra weight and have the hernia repair surgery I'll be able to try it. I sure hope so. 

Are you a CrossFitter? How did you get into it? Share your experience with me! 


  1. Hi Connie,

    This is Justin the owner of CrossFit Bartlett. I appreciate the compliments you gave us in your post, but I want to take a second to address some things that you wrote in your post. Your comments about feeling like you don't belong, literally break my heart. We strive to provide an incredible community of welcoming people, who are all here to create a better experience for you. While the workouts that we do are hard, they are not impossible. In fact, everything we do is infinitely scalable. I have trained 350lb women, 70 year old men, and some of the fittest athletes in the world, all in the same class. The movements are scaled to something that will be challenging to you, but doable. I've been coaching and training people for 11 years and I have never found anything that gets people in better shape than what we do.

    My question to you is this? Does your oncologist allow you to do exercise? If so, then CrossFit is perfectly acceptable for you to do. CrossFit gets a bad rap as something impossible that only crazy fit people do, but it just simply isn't true. You don't need to lose weight to do CrossFit. You WILL lose weight doing CrossFit. You don't need to get into better shape before you do CrossFit, you WILL get in better shape by doing CrossFit. You may need to get your hernia fixed, but I actually trained for 6 months with an inguinal hernia before I got it repaired. The workouts are scalable.

    If you come in, we will do everything in our power to make sure you are the healthiest human being you can possibly be. With the nutrition and exercise that we recommend, you will be in the best shape of your life after a couple of months. I will also work with your doctor/doctors if they are willing to listen and work with me. Please let me know what we can do for you. You have had an incredible battle so far, and we would love to be able to help you live an even more fulfilling life by being fit.

    Feel free to call me at 901-388-9979 or you can email me at justin@crossfitbartlett.com

  2. Your writing is filled with great emotion and information. Even though I was there with you, you have described the events eloquently. That Saturday was steamy hot, cooled off by the 3 snow cones. The kids did a great job of hanging in there as long as they could. I watch as you exercise and take great care of your body and your inner self. I have been blessed to be on the journey, especially the healthy road. You are an unstoppable winner in so many ways. I am proud of what you have done and I am anxious to see where you go next.