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CrossFit in unfamiliar places

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I've been going to a different box for my WODs this week, as I'm at my brother's place watching the cats and dogs and teenager. Finding a box where you feel at home is like finding a community. 

The first place I started CrossFit, I was one of the first people to join as I'd been getting personal coaching sessions from the owner. When she said she was opening a box, I wasn't sure it was something I wanted to do, but she basically said if you want me to keep coaching you, you need to come. So I did. And I didn't know enough to be intimidated by all the 20-somethings who were young and beautiful. I was just trying to hold my own in middle age.

I attended there for I don't know how long, and then I moved to another box that was just easier to get to because it was on my commute home. I literally drove right past it. The box had a completely different feel. Much smaller. Very queer friendly and diverse because it was bang in the middle of the city. There was an urban garden on the roof, bees, and chickens in a corner of the lot. Totally community focused with discounted memberships and lots of outreach.

My box now is reminiscent of my first box - in a gritty, urban area - basically a warehouse with minimal equipment but everything you need to have a great workout. The dust blows in from the unpaved parking lot but after months of going there, it feels like my home.

These last few days, I've been going to the box I always go to when at my brother's. It's immaculately clean, all the equipment is shiny and new, but again, a bare warehouse and the 200 meter sprints are across a parking lot that runs parallel to MetroNorth. All the weights are in different places, the bars in scattered racks, and I still haven't found the resistance bands. That said, it too feels like home because we're all there for the same thing. A good WOD in a supportive environment.

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As I get older, I find the things I once did are no longer easy. On FB, a "memory" popped up from 8 years ago. Part of the CrossFit WOD was fireman's carry your partner across L Street Beach in South Boston. I threw Claire over my shoulder like she was a 145 lb. side of beef and carried her however far it was. And she the same. 

Yet today, at the box, I was thrilled I could deadlift 112 lb. I should be able to deadlift my bodyweight, which is 167 lb. And yet, 112 lb. was the best I've done in years. Even before the pandemic, I'd had a hard time finding a box I really liked. I was used to competition level CrossFit coaches - not that I competed but coaches who were at that level. I think here in Lowell, I may have found the type of CrossFit box I like. Personal coaching, everyone does the same workout - not a fitness WOD for the skinny minnies, a real range of skills, but all being treated like we're competition material. So deadlifting the 112 # felt good. 

I have to remind myself that for almost 15 months, I did no weight lifting at all. I biked and walked and gardened and hiked and snowshoed, but now, it's like I'm back at the beginning, when I first started CrossFit in an effort to battle depression and midlife woes. I don't have those, but the muscles need time to readjust.

And I have to remind myself that we did the SAME deadlift workout last week, and I only lifted 90#. I'm going to attribute my stellar increase to my whey protein recovery shake. Maybe if I double up, I can do 125# next week. 💪

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WODs and Boxes

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I found the box by the sound of the weights hitting the floor. There's a thud-clang when the bar is dropped from a deadlift, and the plates shift, bouncing against the metal bar. Even though the rubber matts are thick and cover every inch of the bare concrete, the thud vibrates a little bit, enough to feel it. I walked down the hall, away from the Art of Drumming, on the other side of the basement in this old Art Deco building on the Hudson, long past its prime - now home to nonprofits, drumming schools, and CrossFit. It seems fitting the banging of drums and thudding of weights share space, the sounds bouncing and echoing off each other down the long hallway of polished concrete and soaring 20 foot ceilings.

Then I heard the coach shouting encouragement and clapping as the lock ticked down to the 20 minute mark before the buzzer rang. Whatever WOD I'd walked into had just finished and the smell of rubber and chalk and sweat greeted me at the door that also opened onto the loading document, the northern line of the MTA barreling past, and I knew I was home. Even after fifteen years of off and on CrossFit, the visceral sensation of walking into a new box is still exciting. I've done CrossFit in both hemispheres and on three continents, and I've yet to walk into one without feeling like I've come home. The pounding music that I never listen to anywhere else, the grunting as you pull the bar into a flat-back deadlift - these are the familiar sounds that ground me. 

Over fifteen years, I've gotten older and slower as we are all destined to, but as long as I can still do 30 sit ups on an abmat, 15 deadlifts, and 400 meter sprints in 90 degree heat, I'm not nearly as old as I think I am. 

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