When I was doing CrossFit (before I decided that it was making me deeply miserable, which should have been obvious right at the start when I was still in the Kool-Aid phase and excitedly writing things like, “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,” and yet I meant all that in a GOLLY GEE WHIZ THIS IS SUPER GREAT! kind of way) (not that CrossFit isn’t, in fact, super great for lots of people. It just wasn’t for me, for all kinds of reasons including chronic never-ending pain, a gym staff that wasn’t particularly enjoyable to be around, and a creeping erosion of both my joints and self-esteem), I had a real phobia of box jumps.
Box jumps are pretty much what they sound like: you jump onto a box, or platform, or giant-ass tractor tire. It’s like this:
Only, ha ha, not quite. That dude clearly has trampoline springs where his legs should be, because that shit is bananas. It’s really more like this:
The box height can vary, but the bottom line is if you biff the jump you can gouge the living bejesus out of your shins, and I will spare you the Google Image results for those. Thus, my fear of box jumps. I never got particularly good at them in CrossFit, and I thought I’d bid them farewell forever once I quit.
As it turns out, my personal trainer LOVES box jumps. She works them in to nearly every one of our workouts, and at first I couldn’t make myself do the jump at all. I’d steel myself up, then do an awkward one-legged hop — really more of a step, if I’m being honest — so that both feet never left the ground at the same time.
I kept having to do them, though, and I slowly improved. Eventually I could finish the required number of jumps in the set, but never the first one. The first one was always so intimidating I’d stand there scowling at the platform and tensing up and lowering myself into the launch position … and then I’d do that one-leg hop thing.
Some weeks ago, I conquered the first jump. I just fucking did it, and I’ve been able to do it ever since. I still do some deep breathing and stare down that platform like it’s covered with live spiders, but I by-god can do the first jump and every jump after that. But I was still jumping up, then stepping back down. Jump, step, jump, step. Some hardcore CrossFitters actually recommend this method because it’s easier on the Achilles, but my trainer doesn’t push me to do AMRAPs for time on a box the size of a refrigerator. We do ten jumps per set on what I think is a 16″ platform — not easy, but not rip-your-tendons-in-half hard, either.
Anyway, of my last few workouts, I can bomb out those jumps like this:
Boy, that is one boring image, but it’s the most illustrative I could find. Just for entertainment purposes, here’s an example of what you should definitely never ever try:
Ha. The SOCKS. Dude.
Anyway, now I can jump up, down, up, down, no stepping, repeat until done and then I high-five my beaming trainer who says, “Look at YOU! Look how far you’ve come!” And I kind of can’t believe I just wrote a whole blathering post about heaving myself onto boxes but GODDAMN, you guys, I am so friggin proud of myself.