When I was a kid, getting a stamp on my hand was a most awesome, however temporary, reward for some job well done. To this day, I have a secret envy for my teacher friends who have daily access to those cool stamps, and I know that part of the reason I never had a calling to become a school teacher is because the Universe knows that giving me a push in that direction would without a doubt lead to a moment where I would be found, alone in a classroom, laughing hysterically while stamping madly at any surface I could find.
Although I would still love to get my hands on one of those fun stamper doohickeys (preferably a heart or smiley face), these days, I happily settle for an asterisk. Actually, I will work my ass off to earn an asterisk, and I got my very first, completely legit little star on Friday. And of course, my chance to reap this simple yet super exciting reward happens at the gym. (Yes, this is another Crossfit themed post. You’ve been warned).
I suppose my preoccupation with the asterisk started a little over two years ago. As I was working through a set of modified push-ups (aka girl push-ups from the knees), I asked my trainer why I had to do them that way. Why couldn’t I do regular push-ups instead? He told me they were much harder, but if I wanted to, I could try. So I did. I got to five standard push-ups, and then agreed with him – they were much harder! But we were both surprised – five push-ups is nothing to turn your nose at when you couldn’t do any just a few months before.
Fast-forward a few years, and I have since learned to do a lot of other exercises. Most started out with a modified version, scaled down so I could get comfortable with the movement, and as I got better, the difficulty was increased. This is one thing that I think is awesome about Crossfit – as much as I can be amazed watching athletes at the top of their game killing a workout on YouTube, at the same time, somebody’s grandma can be doing a scaled-down version of the same thing in her local gym and getting so much fitter in the process. And there is also no shame if you are a non-grandma like I was, doing those same modified exercises.
Everybody can learn to do a push-up!
But as much as I get excited when I finally get to the point where I can do something unmodified, the game changes when a few of those movements get thrown together into a workout, where they suddenly find new and magical ways to kick my ass, at which point I’d often have to resort back to an easier variation. And that was all find and dandy, but lately, I couldn’t help but think that I could probably make it through the original version of the workouts, without changing a thing. Sure, it might take me a lot longer and I would likely finish dead last, but still, it was worth a shot. And worth an asterisk too – a little star scribbled in dry-erase ink on the board to indicate those who do the workout as prescribed.
Although there were some legitimate reasons keeping me from doing certain things – like not having acquired that particular skill or having the strength to work with a particular weight – there were others that were complete and utter bullshit. Worries that I might not get through an entire workout, that no other girls were trying it unmodified or that my scores would be low and times would be slow were all holding me back. I decided it was time to put on my big girl panties, suck it up, ditch the bogus excuses and work at getting an asterisk next to my name dammit!
It took a few workouts before one where there were no exercises that I needed to modify (damn you pull-ups!) came along. Armed with my new mentality though, none of that bothered me too much, and I was surprised at how much more fun I had been having, trying to set new records for myself instead of worrying about what I could and couldn’t do or how my time would stack up. When Friday finally rolled around, it brought with it a workout that called for “double-unders”. To do a double under, you need to jump rope, but instead of having the rope rotate once when you jump, it needs to make two full turns before you come back down. Take it from a girl who consistently had a trainer shaking his head at hear when she’d jump rope while singing cute rhymes to herself and adding in extra hops to keep the beat: this ain’t your typical school-yard skipping! But I’d been getting the hang of them lately, and after a bit of encouragement from the rest of the gang, I decided to suck it up and give it a try in a timed workout.
As the clock counted down, me and a few other guys waited with our skipping ropes ready to tackle as many rounds as possible of the following circuit for 15 minutes:
14 20-inch box jumps
7 dead lifts (150 lbs for the ladies)
Although it’s a far, far cry from breaking any records, I managed to squeeze in 2 rounds (+16 extra double unders!). And as tired as I was after it was all done (um, there is a lot of jumping involved even for the missed double-unders, and I missed a lot more than I got), I had more than enough energy left to respond with a resounding “FUCK YEAH!!!” when the trainer asked if I had done it as prescribed. And then, he put an asterisk next to my name. At that moment, I was a very happy and proud, sweaty, sweaty mess.
So it may just be a star on a dry-erase board, but I take it – and what it means – to heart. When I think that some might find this story utterly boring, a little voice inside reminds me that it’s not how others perceive it that makes it a victory or a loss, but rather, it’s being brave enough to step up to the challenge, choosing to believe in myself and giving it my all that determines the real score. Asterisks or not, my life is filled with opportunities I can attack with passion while ignoring the passing minutes, days and weeks and shrugging off those who try to keep score while I give what I know is my absolute best. If I put aside the worries, the competition and the restrictions, if I focus on my game, draw upon my strengths and strive to work through my weaknesses, will the result not be a life of which I’m proud of? A life that I enjoy? One I know I’ve made the most of? Stars, stamps, asterisks or not, I want to live this way and find out.This post may contain affiliate links.
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