It’s Not What It Looks Like

As I entered the room, I saw athletes reading the workout of the day with a look of unease on their faces. The chalkboard said, “30 wall balls, 30 chest-to-bar, 30 dips, 30 push press, 30 burpees, 30 pull ups and 30 double-under”. Stunned and overwhelmed, I thought to myself, “What am I doing here?”.

From what I had known about CrossFit training, I certainly did not expect the workout to be a piece of a cake but I did not anticipate it would be this tough either. This sport never ceases to surprise me by continuously getting me out of my comfort zone. Although I felt like I was in a place that I didn’t belong in; all I could think of is a way to escape the place as soon as possible, but I didn’t. This single decision helped me realize the difference between an idea that is based on assumption or appearance and reality.

Flashback to a couple of years, when my hobby was binging on fast food and lying down all day and all that mattered to me was a good meal and an entertaining TV show. I dismissed having a healthy lifestyle because it required too much effort, which eventually took a toll on me. I struggled with my obesity, and had excess body fat which I desperately needed to lose. When it had become evident that it was time for a change, I explored my options and finally decided to join a nearby gym.

Although the place offered CrossFit classes, I knew it was never an option for me. I had heard that it is a masculine sport specifically for males, I felt I would be the odd one out so I saw it as an insanely ridiculous idea to even consider in the first place. Because I regularly observed how the athletes looked after they had finished their workout – completely sweaty, exhausted, and worn-out – I viewed them as superheroes, brave survivors. I had in mind that CrossFit was strictly for strong, solidly-built athletes with boundless physiques that allow them to engage such a sport that entails high intensity training. Despite being quite a big fan of tough challenges that support personal growth, it seemed like a challenge that’s impossible to win.


CrossFit is a sport developed by a former gymnast and coach Greg Glassman over several decades and it’s becoming increasingly popular. According to a study done in Ball State University, in 4 years, “the number of CrossFit affiliates has more than doubled, increasing from 5000 to more than 13,000, with well over 300,000 CrossFit participants worldwide”.

CrossFit incorporates different activities or sports in one. It involves weightlifting, gymnastics, running and swimming. Hence, a typical training features a range of strength, endurance, metabolic conditioning, and power. Not only that it’s a comprehensive sport, but also, it allows athletes to train as a community. Despite the fact that it’s not a team sport, there’s always a sense of support and motivation among the community members. It’s never about a single athlete but the community as a whole. All athletes perform the same workout of the day, known as the WOD, and simultaneously. A timer is usually set at the beginning of every workout, with the duration ranging from ten to thirty minutes.

Before I had ever been familiar with CrossFit trainings and its purpose, all I knew about it is that it’s scary and tough. I had no idea what they did or how they trained in that box. I just saw faces of athletes who look like they have just gotten out of a battle and that was enough to discourage me to learn more about it. One day, my sister joined CrossFit and I was genuinely uninterested whenever she tried to talk to me about it, until I encountered her watching a documentary about The CrossFit Games. This documentary covers the annual CrossFit competition that crowns the winner as The Fittest Man or The Fittest Woman on Earth. A spark of interest emerged when the professional CrossFit athletes shared stories about their beginnings and how difficult it was for them to adapt to the sport. They had to strive to progress and reach the CrossFit Games, but it was worth it in the end. This made me realize that every professional was once a beginner and that no matter how challenging it may be, it has to get easier with commitment and hard work.

Although I was frightened when I attended my first CrossFit class, I began to see it differently through time and practice. I successfully completed my first attempt with pride and euphoria that made me feel invincible. It wasn’t as tough as I thought it would be, because it turns out that workouts are scaled down to an individual’s fitness level, which is something I had not been aware of. Contrary to popular belief that its Olympic weightlifting exercises are highly technical and complex, there are different variations of each exercise based on the individual’s ability that could be taught to beginners. Moreover, I was surprised to see plenty of young ladies in the classes. I realized that it’s not made for men after-all, it was just a stereotype. Due to my limited perspective on the essence of CrossFit and my lack of involvement in the sport, I had a wrong image of what it really is and who it is for. It is not in fact for advanced male athletes with superior abilities, rather than, for anyone of any gender willing to put the effort into achieving improved results.

Everything has different stories to it, it depends on which story you’re dealing with.

When we believe something we’ve heard or seen without actually closely looking into it, we disregard the power of the storyteller or presenter of a concept or idea, making us adopt the idea regardless whether it’s true or not. Although CrossFit appeared too challenging to me in the beginning because I thought I wasn’t physically capable, I found myself in this sport. CrossFit helped me build so much strength, boosted my self-confidence, and pushed me beyond my limits.

When we have an idea about something in mind that is far from what it actually is in reality, it all goes back to the person in power. When you portray something from one incident, one perspective, one story – it becomes its identity to the world, even if it’s not true. Never a single story, there’s always more to it. Generalization about a certain culture, human, or anything at all, should be avoided at all costs because it often sends the wrong message or depiction of a particular subject. Everything has different stories to it, it depends on which story you’re dealing with. This leaves me wondering what else I’ve misjudged due to a single story.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Tom Burton says:

    Lovely read! Well done for giving it a try & good luck with your future goals! 😀


    1. carlaakil says:

      Thank you, Tom!

      Liked by 1 person

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