I’ve been wavering on how I feel about CrossFit for a while now, and I stayed away from the gym all last week to try and . . . I don’t know, get some perspective, I guess. I jumped around the living room to DVDs, I ran more miles than I’ve run in months. If there is a form of exercise that is 100% enjoyable I’ve yet to find it, but I noticed that even during the mostly-ridiculous moments of throwing punches in front of the TV and the exceedingly-heinous part of my neighborhood loop with that lung-shitting hill, there were these little bursts of feeling—if only for the briefest of intervals—as though I was fully plugged into life. Lit up like a Christmas tree.
That’s the best way I can think of to describe the fleeting endorphin rush, that elusive exercise high that never lasts as long as I’d like it to. Most of the time for me the payoff of working out is afterwards, when I can feel awesome for having it be over and done with—but sometimes the exertion itself has its own reward.
I’ve never felt that way with CrossFit. For a long time I thought that was probably okay, that a workout designed to push you to your max isn’t supposed to be fun and that’s all there is to it. But I miss it. I miss feeling good while I’m sweating. I miss the sense of accomplishment. I’ve rarely regretted a CrossFit workout, but I’ve also traded feeling amazing and strong for a sensation of being virtuously wrecked.
For that and a number of other reasons, I cancelled my membership this week. I told myself that I’ve given it six months, that there’s no reason to keep trying to make the most of something that just isn’t right for me, that there’s no shame in moving on. Still, I cried myself into hiccups, tangled up in a pile of mental crap I can’t even fully unravel.
I know I’m disappointed because I really wanted to love CrossFit. I know how immensely rewarding it’s been for other people and I wanted to be one of those success stories, all sinew and muscle and a newfound sense of badassery. After years of trying all sorts of different things—gyms, personal trainers, DVDs, classes, swimming, running, biking—I was hoping I’d found my thing. The thing I embrace wholeheartedly, the thing I get really good at instead of being enthusiastic but barely competent.
I also know I’m more than a little humiliated that there’s a social aspect that I never got right with. It seems like the fact that I never really made gym friends or even got to the point where I could comfortably walk in the door without feeling like I was looking for a table in a middle school cafeteria verifies what I’ve always suspected about myself: that I am a pathetic unlikable dork.
And, of course, I feel like a wimp. Like whatever I tell myself—oh, the weather’s getting nicer, maybe I’ll get back into kickboxing, start doing some more races—is just an excuse. As if it’s anything other than admitting defeat.
I’m not really sure why this decision has stirred up so much murk in my brain. If I were listening to someone else say all this, I’d be like, are you fucking kidding me? You’ve got zero reasons to beat yourself up over making a choice to stop doing something that isn’t making you happy. Life is too short for forcing yourself to do things with a crappy suck-to-yay ratio, good on you for recognizing you need something different. Good on you for not continuing to dump boatloads of cash into something you don’t love.
(Thanks for bearing with me as I write this out. It helps.)