Why I started CrossFit. Why I quit. And why it was one of the best things I have ever done.
*This post is strictly about MY journey and MY body with this specific sport. I love CrossFit and think everyone should try it at some point in their life. Now relax and read on.*
Actually why I started is pretty silly. I was in college and obsessed with group fitness workouts. I signed my first ever gym contract my last year in school and was nonstop in classes. I went on a date with a guy who was in the military and I mentioned my current loves (the strength classes mostly) and he said I just had to try CrossFit.
In my head I was already one foot out the door of Springfield, MO. My whole mental game was "get ready to be an actor in LA" which included: adding restaurant jobs to my resume, doing a ton of research, and being in the best shape possible. So when the idea was presented to me (from a super cute boy nonetheless) I jumped on it.
Within a month I joined the local CrossFit gym and was going 3-4 times a week.
I loved it. I had never felt so empowered while working out. And everything was new. Unlike the community fitness-type classes I had been attending nonstop, my new obsession was filled with movements I knew nothing about, words I had never heard before (what the fuck is a snatch?), and people who TALKED TO EACH OTHER.
That last one was ground breaking. I knew everyone's name and when I was left on the floor finishing yet another set of push ups and burpees, these people knew MY name and would legit CHEER for me like I was in a competitive sport that mattered, not just a 6:00am workout before my Acting IV class.
I knew I had found something special.
Now keep in mind that was 2011, so the massive trend that is now "CROSSFIT" was not a thing yet. I had to explain to people what it was every time. Cut to now, and people will run away if they hear you mention CrossFit, they don't have time for THAT convo.
Anyway, I moved to LA knowing I had to find a gym like mine.
Hmm...what could be the problem here? Perhaps that this boutique fitness choice I had made was one of the most expensive parts of my life at that time? Check. In Springfield, MO I was paying....wait for it.....$85 a month for unlimited CF classes. In LA, the closest gym was $175.
I worked my ass of the first few months and moved around until I found rent and a location that was cheap and convenient enough for me to finally afford Brick CrossFit (I was living in someone's backyard garden shed that they lovingly called "the guest house" but that's a story for another day).
Within 3 months of joining I was hired on as front desk staff (because you can never have too many jobs in LA) and became super immersed in the culture.
I worked out 3-4 days a week at first and quickly moved to 5-6. I also jumped on the Paleo bandwagon. I did all the CrossFit things. Like...all of them.
My core group of friends (who are still my core group of friends today) became my CrossFit friends. We would workout like mad and then go have drinks and burgers. I was having a blast.
I started noticing the subtle differences between myself and the other girls at my auditions very slowly. You have to understand, I have always been a SOLID medium. And I was really ok with it. And after I had been CrossFitting for 2-3 years I was very very "solid".
I would be sitting in a room of slender girls and say things later like,"It feels good knowing I can deadlift most of the people in this room!" I started getting athletic auditions nonstop. And I knew I was perfect for the roles. The girls auditioning with me couldn't even do a real push up! Hello?! Chest to deck ladies!!
Here's the problem: I never booked the role. And the times I did I struggled to fit into the wardrobe and was super embarrassed. I worked out all the time, how was this possible? My agents even flat out had to tell me to cut back the lifting and that I looked like a linebacker. NOT in real life, but in a line up of ladies side by side (they said it nicely, I promise).
I was shocked! I was still learning proper pull-up form! I wasn't even that great at CrossFit, how could I be too big?
And when I finally opened my eyes and saw the girls who were and are booking not just regular roles, but the Nike, Under Armor, and Reebok ads get their definition from slim slenderness...it really messed with me. But I didn't know how else to workout.
I had panic attacks at the idea of "just do yoga or run!". It didn't feel like enough. I had to exhaust myself to consider it a real workout. And what about food?? When I stopped doing nonstop kettlebell swings and pull ups and clean and jerks, would I be able to eat anything and still burn calories?
WHAT IF I GOT FAT?
(that was my real concern I covered up for so long btw)
For a long time I tried to just lift lighter and stop doing overhead movement. But my body loved it's muscle and didn't want to let it go. Eventually, after a very dramatic incident getting removed from a set for being "too thick" (another post for another day), I had to take a major step back.
I wanted to break all the rules. I wanted to be the successful actress who defied the odds and was the "classic girl next door" but not skinny. I didn't want to give in!
Well....here is the bad news. I have to follow the rules before I can break them.
A lot of people may argue me on this. "Strong is the new skinny!" "Look at all the badass different sized women in Hollywood!" But in my experiences, being a twenty something pretty girl in this industry with only a handful of credits, there is no room for that...YET.
Hold your horses, I am speaking specifically for my body type. This isn't true for everyone, I know some gorgeous thin girls who CrossFit. And I know some badass super muscular ladies who OWN that type. But everyone is different. Yes, Wonder Woman was a great movie and Gal killed the role. But even the muscle she put on was Hollywood-muscle. It was sleek and lean. She still had to look beautiful in a strapless top. And I guarantee she wasn't deadlifting 200 lbs.
When I become a bigger name people will pay for me to have a trainer for a big action film and I'll be allowed to get strong! Although I would argue that I will be putting on the Hollywood-muscle for these roles as well.
But for now I personally have to find my happy place in the world of the "slimmer and trimmer". I switched to bootcamp classes, hot yoga, pilates, etc. Every once in a while I will still go back to my old CrossFit gym and modify my workouts and hang out with my friends.
Now why, after all that bitching, would I tell you CrossFit was one of the best things I have ever done? It legit taught me everything I know about fitness. From proper form and movement to alignment and foam rolling. I learned so so much from it and it translates into all other physical activities.
I also think it kept me out of a lot of trouble initially in LA. I didn't have time to go out and get high and party till 6am because I had to be at the gym at 10am.
And most importantly, it's where I found my LA family. My best friends, my boyfriend, and all the people I would call if I got thrown in jail. I was so worried when I finally stopped that my friendships would suffer. That I would see all these people and it wouldn't be the same.
But it totally was. And still is.