The woman next to me at CrossFit has immaculate form during her deadlift, if you rolled a quarter down her back it would probably come to a stop on her ass. In comparison, I can feel my back humping up as I struggle with the weight. I painfully, tearfully heave 130 pounds upward, my legs shaking. It’s awful and impossible and my form is shit and everyone else is lifting twice as much weight without a problem and I nearly collapse on top of the bar afterwards and I’m seeing actual stars, blinking and winking at me in the musty gym air.

Sprint tests are next and we’re sent on a route that winds through the busy parking lot and into a pitch-black road and around a block and back through the stupid Frogger-esque lot and up a giant flight of stairs, which we’re told to take two at a time. I try this, the two-steps-thing, and nearly trip and flatten my face on the concrete. At the top, I gasp until I’m sure my lungs are going to emerge from my mouth, twin frantic pink flesh-bubbles searching for escape.

The next day we’ve got overhead presses and overhead squats, the idea being to lift the max amount of weight that’s physically possible for us. It’s terrifying, holding a giant awkward metal thing above my head and trying to lower my ass towards the floor. I envision somehow dropping it on my neck, my head neatly decapitated and rolling bouncily across the rubber mats. During the press, I get the weight to eyeball level and my arms say hey, fuck you, and I can’t make it budge one more inch. I’m trembling and sweating and one leg is doing a weird involuntary dog-scratch movement and my teammates yell that I can do it and the coach yells that I can do it and I somehow, glacially, gruntingly, manage to shove the beshitted thing the rest of the way up and afterwards I am thisclose to crying, partially because it was so hard, partially because of these people cheering me on, partially because I’m flooded with . . . something, some rush of chemicals I’m unfamiliar with.

We do box jumps to max, the coaches adding weights on top of the boxes to increase the height, and I feel my brain shearing away at the idea of leaping onto what appears to be an unstable surface and I can’t make myself go any higher than a couple feet and I feel a tiny worrisome ping in my back.

One of the guys is leaping what appears to be his own body height. He floats upwards in a seemingly effortless movement, landing as lightly as a cat.

Rope climbing is last and I struggle with it, trying to get the technique of clamping the rope between your feet as you push yourself upwards. My arms and back and legs and everything have stopped working and it’s just not happening and all of a sudden somehow I find myself fifteen feet or so high. Before I can stop myself I shout OH MY GOD NO WAY then drop heavily to the mat, thunk.

My classmates nod and smile and the guy who can ascend two ropes at once just by using his hands like some kind of goddamned monkey says hey, yeah, that was good, and I kind of want to hug everyone so hard right now.

I leave, slowly and creakily, waving goodbye. When I get home I collapse in a heap. Later when I try and stand up I realize that in addition to all the other aches and pains, my back has basically exited the building. I can’t straighten up, I can only walk in a bent-over shuffle.

It hurts. It sucks. It’s not exactly the most safe exercise in the whole world. We run on unlit streets, we jump onto metal boxes that will crack our shins if we fail, we try to lift things that are too heavy for us. We are constantly told to do things we don’t think we can do. A lot of it doesn’t feel okay or comfortable at ALL.

You know how this ends, right? With me saying this: man, I love it there so much. Screw avoiding pain at all costs. Forget being so scared of danger we eliminate adventure. Fuck giving in to the voice that says I can’t.

I’m walking like a busted-up old lady today. My legs are covered in ugly bruises. My hands have peeling, bloody calluses. And I can’t wait to go back for more.


37 Responses to “Koolaid”

  1. Eric's Mommy on October 13th, 2010 3:52 pm

    My God, you kick ass Linda. I would never be able to do anything like that.

  2. 'risten O'Neal on October 13th, 2010 3:54 pm

    Do you sell your motivation in pill form? I had my first child in December and I still can’t get motivated to lose the weight.

  3. Kristin on October 13th, 2010 4:08 pm

    You know what I think of all of this.

    And I am not surprised you are greedily guzzling the koolaid, not at all, and I’m stoked.

    (Overhead squat is my weakest exercise, after the equally beshitted kipping pullups)


  4. telegirl on October 13th, 2010 4:11 pm

    I got tired just reading this. Go you!!

  5. AndreAnna on October 13th, 2010 4:38 pm

    One of the best things I’ve found about Crossfit is that it makes me a better me. Wait – how can torn calloused hands, scraped shins, and a body so sore I can only have sex with my husband on rest days after being iced up for three hours and a two hour Epsom salt bath – make me better?

    Because I prove to myself day in and day out that I CAN do something that is really effing hard.

    Something that an older version of myself never would have though I could do.

    Proving my old self wrong is the best damn therapy money can buy.

    Feel better soon.

    Foam roller the frick outta yourself and drink tons of water.

    Then get back and kick some more ass.

  6. Cosmopolitan Kids on October 13th, 2010 4:38 pm

    I’m impressed that you are undergoing these workouts. Kudos to you.

  7. Dawna on October 13th, 2010 5:00 pm

    Rock on Sundry. Gotta love the seeing stars feeling during deadlifts! I thought I would hit the floor more than once.

  8. Amanda on October 13th, 2010 5:00 pm

    Because of reading about CrossFit on your blog and AndreAnna’s, I started CrossFit two weeks ago. It sucks so much and I hurt every day (except for that blessed off day every three days) and I try shit that is so hard and OH MY GOD I LOVE IT SO MUCH. Thank you BOTH for writing about it.

  9. katie on October 13th, 2010 5:19 pm

    good for you, but there has to be a danger there when you dont have good form…i messed a knee by doing too much a few yrs ago.

  10. kalisa on October 13th, 2010 5:28 pm

    I will never, ever, in a million years, get that.

  11. Hilary on October 13th, 2010 5:31 pm

    My back hurts because of deadlifts, too! I know exactly what you are saying, though. I love who I am in Crossfit. It’s so hard and wonderful and fulfilling. I had a crappy morning of irritating client revisions and Crossfit wiped it all away for one glorious, painful hour. Can’t wait to hear more from you about this!

  12. Gnometree on October 13th, 2010 7:06 pm

    You so need to talk to my sister (
    Okay, she might be in Melbourne, but she travels to Seattle to worship at the alter that is Microsoft (becasue her husband works for them) reguarly. She is 38 in those photos (they were taken in New York I think).
    If anyone can feel your agony and ecstasy, she can.
    BTW I think the two of you are the same person in parallel universes. Married to Microsoft employee, first child born in Early Sept 2005, went from party girl to fitness fanatic, and has now (about a month ago) quit her job to home school her daughter. Does that story sound familiar? Yeah, twilight zone stuff, I know.

  13. Melissa on October 13th, 2010 7:13 pm

    I am thinking that I need to find me some CrossFit!!! Sounds super painful and something I would enjoy! I used to kickbox (and did some fighting) and when I quit everyone said “Oh good…now you won’t get punched in the face anymore”. Sad to say but that is the part I liked. You can’t beat something that pushes you beyond your physical limits. Thanks to the fighting (and childbirth) I feel like there is now nothing I can’t do!!!

  14. Kate on October 13th, 2010 7:47 pm

    Damn you! Between you and Kristin, I’m plotting and scheming and looking for a buyer for a kidney so that I can join CrossFit. It totally terrifies me and yet…

  15. Jennifer on October 13th, 2010 7:52 pm

    So awesome that you’re getting to much out of this! But you’ve finally gone into the territory where I’m not going to follow… I really would worry about hurting myself (back, ankles, shoulders, neck, groin). I’ll stick to the 3-mile swims in the pool and killer bicycling boot camp this winter!

    p.s. you’re still inspiring me to eat good stuff though! Your chicken curry thing on Flickr is a great idea on top of a pile of romaine!

  16. SeattleSchmitt on October 13th, 2010 7:55 pm

    I have no interest in this type of exercise, but…you go, girl!

    Did you see this article? This gal is 61 years young and might have a tip for you pertaining to weight lifting.

  17. Kim on October 13th, 2010 7:56 pm

    My brain just shut down mid-post. I’m sure it’s just protecting itself.

    You are spewing the inspiration. Keep it up!!

  18. Erin on October 13th, 2010 8:23 pm

    I’m taking boxing fitness classes at Cappy’s on the hill since I can’t swing a stable schedule in order to do CrossFit. The boxing classes are pretty tough. Your entries both make me feel better (oh thank God I don’t have to do THAT) and also make me a little jealous. I look forward to the time my childcare schedule allows me to join CrossFit and I also fear it. You’re kicking so much ass! I’m glad you love it.

  19. agirlandaboy on October 13th, 2010 9:00 pm

    I’ll acknowledge that I speak from a place of scared-shitlessness, but I just don’t think I’d find people yelling “You can do it!” motivating AT ALL. I get why it works for mostly everyone else (it’s obvious, really), but to me as soon as someone cheers me on, my kneejerk reaction is to give up and walk away, all “I don’t need your support!” Weird, huh? Do they have training classes where everyone–trainers included–just sort of…ignores you? Pretends you’re not even there? Comes to your aid only if you really are about to decapitate yourself?

  20. Ashley on October 13th, 2010 9:24 pm

    STOP talking me into it, STOP!

  21. lisa on October 13th, 2010 9:52 pm

    You are ninja!

  22. Jen the Trephinist on October 13th, 2010 11:14 pm

    Dude, and you were afraid of ROLLER DERBY?

    You win. Seriously.

    A Roller Derby Coach

  23. crisi-tunity on October 14th, 2010 5:07 am

    [makes the X symbol with her arms, i.e. P90X]

  24. lucidkim on October 14th, 2010 5:37 am

    Usually I find myself nodding and wistfully thinking I wish I had your drive (with the marathon stuff for example) but with Crossfit – all of it sounds horrific. I admire your determination – but it sounds like the PE class from hell – a nightmare that would likely include being totally naked in front of everyone on top of everything else!

  25. Brooke on October 14th, 2010 7:42 am

    I like how you make it sound utterly horrifying and totally awesome.

  26. Justa on October 14th, 2010 7:43 am


    Just wait until you start to see the results kicking in. You think you’re hooked now!

  27. Easton on October 14th, 2010 7:55 am

    Woo hoo!!! I do crossfit twice a week. Started back in the summer. I love how strong I feel. This morning I did my first ever legit pull up. I didn’t think I could do one – and then my trainer said “Do a pull up.” And then “Now do another” … with short breaks between… I did 4 more!! 5 pull ups. Looking forward to being able to do 5 straight in a row. My other goal is 20 full body push ups without stopping. I’m finally up to 2 sets of 10. Glad to hear you are enjoying it!!

  28. Lindsey on October 14th, 2010 9:47 am

    You had me until peeling bloody calluses on your hands. Ewww!

  29. Korinna on October 14th, 2010 9:54 am

    What gave me chills is others cheering you on. While the rest of sounds like an experiment in horror…the encouragement from others is so completely lovely that I can’t get over it. Really.

  30. Sarah on October 14th, 2010 10:06 am

    Holy hell I don’t know how you do that crap. Getting myself to run is difficult enough…the insanity you described is frightening!! But totally awesome too!! There’s something about pushing ourselves that really makes us happy, isn’t there?

  31. lisa-marie on October 14th, 2010 10:31 am

    Glad to see you’re back on the fitness wagon! Keep up the great work!

  32. Beaverton Crossfit » sat…10-16 on October 15th, 2010 9:09 am

    […] Koolaid […]

  33. Lauren on October 15th, 2010 12:42 pm

    I definitely know the feeling you are talking about. I’m going into my second full week of training (after intro classes) and I LOVE it!

    I try to describe the workouts to people and everyone thinks I’m a masochist!

  34. MichelleH on October 15th, 2010 2:25 pm

    I admit, I stopped reading this halfway through out of sheer pain and exhaustion. I am currently in the Macaroni and cheese eating stage of my fitness journey. I can’t wait til I’m fully back in the mind set where you are of loving that pain and wanting more. Once that happens you are unstoppable. I wonder what you are going to tell us you are doing next??

  35. Josey on October 16th, 2010 12:06 pm

    Oh man, you got me missing the koolaid. Might be time for me to rejoin!!

  36. Angelika on October 16th, 2010 12:34 pm

    Freaking funny writing!!! But oh so true. Been doing Crossfit (Portland) for a year now myself. 52 yrs young!! Finally reached the top of the rope climb yesterday. The hardest part? pinching that damn rope between my feet. Talk about clumsy!!

    Despite all the pain, I’m hooked, and despite the fact that I am consistantly the last one to finish, or use the lightest weight, I still look forward to each class!

  37. Erika on October 17th, 2010 2:36 pm

    This sounds so incredibly awesome!

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