by Graham Workman
So, here’s my story. I’m skinny. I’ve always been skinny. My dad told me to wait until I turned 30, it would all start to change. Well, still skinny. So, he said, wait until you’re 40. Guess what? Still skinny. As a result, I never thought much about my fitness. I didn’t worry about what I ate, or if I was being active. I just figured that since I wasn’t worried about my weight, I must be in pretty good shape.
But then I started to notice some things. I would feel sleepy after eating my lunch at work. I would get winded running a block to the mailbox. I was painting a room, and my shoulder would get tired quickly, and be sore for awhile after. I wasn’t feeling great about my body, so I decided to join a gym. There was a big box chain gym at the end of my street, that I figured I could pop into after work, do some cardio and lift some weights. Everything would be fine after that.
Surprise, surprise, I had no idea what I was doing there. I had no lifting form, no technique. I was depending on the weight machines to keep me safe, and as long as I could lift it, I must be doing it right. I didn’t know enough to work different areas, and what moves to pair together to be the most effective. It didn’t take long for me to get hurt. I lifted something that I probably shouldn’t, and my back paid the price.
The pain was incredible. I could barely get out of bed. I couldn’t stand up straight, and I could hardly walk without holding onto something. I was a liability at work, and it probably wasn’t safe for me to be driving. When the Doctor diagnosed me with degenerative disk disease, and bulging disks, it had me worried. I started thinking about how difficult my life was going to be. The things I would miss out on because of back pain. I was very concerned. If the pain was this bad in my late 30’s, how much worse could it get as I got older? It got to be pretty depressing.
Luckily, the gym had a PhysioMed attached to it, and that’s when I first met Matt Munro. Matt and his team worked with me a lot. And I do mean A LOT! Sometimes up to 4 times a week, for over two and a half years. The exercises were tough. The journey seemed never ending. But Matt kept up the positive attitude every time I came in, and eventually I started to see results. Matt had a great plan in place to alleviate the pain, but also to build the necessary strength to combat the underlying issue. I stuck with Matt, even through a move when the big box gym closed, and PhysioMed teamed up with this FirePower CrossFit place. During my physio appointments, I would catch glimpse of the CrossFit classes, and I never envisioned myself doing what they were doing. But Matt thought differently. When it was time to be discharged, Matt knew that I would still need some guidance, or I would end up right back where I started. So, with his support, I ended up in the CrossFit Foundations class.
From my free trial class with Kim, to my foundations classes with a variety of coaches, I couldn’t get enough. I still remember my first snatch lesson, when George suggested I put the 45lb bar down and try the 35lb bar for awhile. Some people may have been offended by that, and gotten upset. I took it as the first of MANY teachable moments. Where the coaches where actually concerned that I learned how to lift properly, and not worry so much about the weight yet. I never had a moment like that in the other gym, where someone was actually concerned about my form. Probably why I got hurt.
In my 2+ years with FirePower, I have never had a moment where a coach wouldn’t take the time to, well, actually coach. I still appreciate the little tips, even in the middle of a WOD. Squeeze your glutes, hinge at the hips, watch your dip. These little moments remind me how much the coaches care. I also truly appreciate that they’re willing to help me find an appropriate substitute, on the days that my back isn’t quite 100%. Each and every coach that I’ve worked with has been knowledgeable, friendly and extremely helpful to me. Some WOD’s I love. Some WOD’s I just put my head down and slog through. But my absolute favourite hour at the gym happens on Saturday morning.
I have been taking CrossFit striking with Justin almost as long as I’ve been a member. While it incorporates a lot of the elements of a regular class (lifting, gymnastics work), the striking element adds a unique flavour that just makes it a little different. Justin seems to put a lot of thought into his workouts, as he builds on our previous knowledge. I appreciate his patience, and the fact that he knows my abilities well enough to really get the best out of me. I start looking forward to the next striking class as soon as one finishes.
I called this essay my journey towards fitness, because I’m not there yet, but I’m not done. It’s a journey. My back still hurts sometimes, I don’t often do Rx weight, and I’m not sure if I’ll ever get double unders. But I’m so much farther along than I was a few years ago. Thanks to Matt from PhysioMed. Thanks to George, Andrea and all the coaches at FirePower. The futures looking so much brighter now.