Tattoos Not Required*: The Woodshed (or, The story of How I Became – In My Own Mind, At Least – an Athlete)
I don’t remember the actual date, but sometime in 2008-2009, I began reading about this CrossFit thing; this new way to exercise. Yes, that’s right, I called it exercise. This was before I was re-educated and began to call it training. While I only partially roll my eyes about the need to train for a non-existent competition, the funny thing is – my CrossFit Woodshed experience really has been like training: training for life.
As a former child athlete – one who spent four seasons as a striker on youth soccer teams without a goal or assist to her name – who had accomplished nothing even remotely that athletic since, I was due for some serious body conditioning. At the ripe age of 45, I had enjoyed various fleeting forms of middle-age mom group exercise classes: aerobics, kick-boxing, Zumba, Jazzercise, and boot camps. My collection of personal video-led programs are too numerous to count, but include The Slide (on VHS) and The Firm (neither of which I will ever malign because they absolutely served my purposes when I remained faithful to them). But my favorite exercise video dalliance had to be the yoga DVD I felt compelled to fast-forwarded through because it took too long.
As anyone who has followed an at-home exercise program knows, it’s often hard to keep yourself interested when faced with such monotony; even the charming southern accents of the young Firm ladies wore thin after a few months. I had to do something, but I wasn’t convinced I was really able to do anything athletic. I HATED running. (Make that HATE running.) I certainly wasn’t going to become a gymnast (my fun foray into aerial silks taught me that), or any type of team player (see soccer stats above). The one thing I really liked, because I seemed to have a natural affinity for it, was lifting dumbbells as a part of other classes. I needed to find something to do that included lifting weights.
At this time, a bunch of Facebook friends were chatting about CrossFit. The fact that these friends weren’t twenty year-olds made me think about CrossFit as a possibility even at my age. (The fact that I didn’t have any twenty year-old friends then, but do now, makes me think about CrossFit as an even bigger opportunity.) In July of 2010, I had the pleasure of participating in an hour-long CrossFit trial class given by Martin Cade at ATLOSCon (a conference I was attending). He had a ton (quite possibly literally) of kettlebells – which I had never seen before – and had us complete a 21-15-9 WOD (workout of the day) with kettlebell swings, parking lot sprints, and push-ups.
This was Georgia.
It was hot.
And it was fun! And I could see how it could easily be scaled – by weight or number of repetitions – for my abilities. When the summer dust settled and the school year started, I typed “CrossFit” + “Littleton” into Google and found CrossFit Woodshed. I started my on ramp with owner/trainer Justin Keane on September 13, 2010. I was a month shy of 46 years old. I not only touched a barbell for the first time, I put that thing on my back! With weights! And I didn’t get crushed!
Woodshed was smaller then. Larger than when it first started in the woodshed, but there were a few of us at 6AM, beginning each class by hauling weights and bars out from the storage room of the rented space at a dojo in Acton. My memories from the early days include having to do wheelbarrow walks with a buff 40 year-old dude (AWK, as my kids like to say) and the major attaboys from that guy and the trainer when I finally rocked my 120 lb. back squat. Good times. Great people.
The following years brought lifting failures and triumphs, 5Ks, some sidelining due to injuries, and a whole bunch of new friendships. I’ve gained and lost weight on my body and on the bar. I’ve wrestled with finishing or even starting conditioners. I’ve modified workouts to meet my needs and best of all – I’ve won! I’ve won at improving my life. Despite my constant griping in the summer (due to near heat-stroke conditions, I’m certain of it), I have loved every callous-forming, sweat-inducing, stamina-requiring minute of it. And there’s almost nothing better than being able to say, “Shit! I can do that,” and know that I really can.
It’s coming up on four years for me at the Woodshed and I’ve learned a tremendous amount about strength, my body mechanics, nutrition, and muscle development. All good things to know. I’ve learned that my measurable improvements, which I continue to achieve, are in no small part due to our clever, varied, and smart training programs. But, by far, the best things I’ve learned from my time at the ‘Shed are that there is no substitute for hard or smart work, that everybody can do something to improve the way her body works, and that people who share and support your fitness goals are the best people to have in your tribe.
At 50 years old – and except for my damn strict press which suffered a little this year – I am stronger and happier about my physical abilities than I’ve ever been. In my experience, CrossFit can be for anyone who wants to get better at living; luckily for anyone who can drive here, Woodshed CrossFit is for those who will.
*Tattoos not required, but badass ones are always appreciated.