So if you’ve been reading up through now, you already know my CrossFit coach is my husband, Gary, and I workout in our garage, where Gary has what our son refers to as CrossFit GFF (Gary’s friends/family) (Gary thinks there should be another F for “Free”). Having a coach is important in CrossFit because, among other reasons, it’s really hard for you to critique your own form, and correct form is the best prevention for avoiding injury, something those of us who are overweight and out of shape are pretty prone to.
For example, one of the easiest things to do is the shrug. You grab a medicine ball by the sides, stand in Superman pose, and shrug your shoulders. I had no idea I was bending my arms when I did it; you’re supposed to do it with your arms straight. Trying to fix it, I straightened my arms by pulling my elbows in and with the place they take blood from prominent (what is the backside of your elbow called, anyway?). Nope, that still isn’t right. I had to grab the ball a little lower and straighten my arms by pushing the ball itself. Tougher than it looks, by a long shot.
But it’s not always easy to take correction from your spouse, no matter how matter-of-fact he is about it, because there’s a tendency to interpret the comments as having some deeper meaning. And I am an expert at taking even a positive statement, much less a criticism, in the worst possible way.
Poor man. The first thing he taught me was how to shoot, but that was when we were dating and I was still on my best (or at least better) behavior, so he was probably completely shocked when he tried to teach me how to golf and I ended up angry and tearful. Why? Because I wanted to be perfect (kind of a generic goal for me; I specifically would like to be omniscient, but I’m pretty sure that’s not going to happen) or, at the very least, for him to think I was. I didn’t want to disappoint him; I didn’t want him to think badly of me. So I have a historic tendency to react emotionally and negatively to Gary’s attempts, no matter how well founded or kindly put, to give me constructive feedback.
So how is it working for CrossFit? Well, I probably snap at him more than I would a coach that I don’t have an intimate relationship with, but I’m better than I used to be … and so is he.
I’m better because I’ve spent the year prior to starting this exercise staring in the quiet dark because to do otherwise would make my migrainey, cranky self want to claw out someone’s eyes, maybe even my own, and that gives you a lot of time to reflect. It also puts things into perspective; healthy is so much better than sick. In some ways, I think it may have rebooted me. I’m still a long way from being who I’d like to be someday, but it has made me consider who I am, what got me there, and why I do things the way I do. It made me take time to forgive both others and myself. That clears out a lot of emotional baggage.
Among the things I realized in this self-discovery was just how fabulous my husband is. Gary has taken on all the work of the household while dealing with the day-to-day uncertainty of whether I would be sick (generally, I was). He’s had the responsibilities of a single person without its privileges. Yet he has never griped about it, never made me feel guilty about it, and never let me down. What more can someone do to let you know he loves you and thinks well of you?
So I’m trying to curb my defensive reactions, although I’m not always successful. It’s really not about what he thinks about me, but what I think of myself. And it’s okay that I’m not perfect. And as far as he’s concerned, the fact that I’m actually working on getting healthier is a big plus.
He’s gotten better, too. He’s learned to be more thoughtful about how he phrases things, not to overwhelm me with too much information at once, and to give praise and encouragement. I’m really a big ol’ Lab; just pat me on the head and I’ll slaver all over you.
Most people in my position don’t have the luxury of having a loving spouse as a coach and a gym out the kitchen door, so they may think “Well, she’s got it easy.” They’d be right in many ways. I have convenience and a ready-made trusting relationship with my coach. I don’t have to parade my happy ass down to the local CrossFit box and let all those athletic folks see my cellulite hanging down around my knees. I can see that as a barrier to going for the help.
But there are CrossFit coaches out there who work with the elderly, kids, and even us fatties. There are certification courses from CrossFit to work with kids, and I seem to remember they offered courses for working with the elderly at one point. Coaches who have taken those courses are probably the best prepared for working with the obese as well because they are more used to making modifications to CrossFit for special situations.
However, the beauty of CrossFit is that it is scalable, and no matter what your skill and fitness level is, CrossFit is designed in a way that you can start out wherever you are, and most coaches will be able to work with you. I know the CrossFit home page is a little daunting with its motto of “Forging elite fitness”: Why do you think my first post was “Sheer, unadulterated terror“? But the courses and the philosophy behind them is that anyone can get to the level of fitness they desire from wherever they are now.
That being said, some coaches do prefer to work with elite athletes, and I wouldn’t want to work with one of them, so it does take a bit of time to find the right coach. I keep looking for those who have a particular interest in or experience with the obese to link to them on this site (see the headings on the left side of the page); I hope to hear from more of them and of more of them as I work through this experience. I’m also on the lookout for success stories so that we can begin to build a community of support.
Unfortunately, from everything I’ve seen so far, CrossFit does not offer a class specifically designed to help coaches who want to work with overweight folks, so it’s harder to figure out who would be ready for you or me. A class certification would be a dead giveaway and make it easier for us to find fattie-friendly facilities. Until then, call your local CrossFit or check out their websites. See if they’ve commented on the CrossFit website. Find comments and testimonials about the specific coaches. The one you want, the one you need, is out there. And CrossFit is growing fast, so if they’re not there now, they may be soon.
If CrossFit did have a specific certification for working with the obese, then, just maybe, we’d be more comfortable coming out to a box in front of others. If you’re like me, you suspect people are internally evaluating you based on your body size. But if you’re not a novelty, then no one is likely to stare or think “Wow. What’s s/he doing here?”
Just imagine. Going to CrossFit Fattie Day. Of course, they probably couldn’t get away with calling it that. It’s one thing if I say it about myself; I’ve been there. I *might* think it was funny; kind of depends on where I am with things. But something like that would let me know I would be welcome and accepted. That would sure be nice.
Of course, I wouldn’t accept foot rubs from any other coach.