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.


22 Responses to “Hopped up”

  1. Nicole on December 2nd, 2013 8:34 pm

    Hoorah!!! I feel you previous fears of CF and box jumps….I have yet to overcome these….you are an inspiration though!! :) You should definitely be proud, proud, PROUD of yourself!!

  2. Sara on December 2nd, 2013 9:29 pm

    Go Linda! Box jumps are scary yo.

  3. Courtney on December 2nd, 2013 10:07 pm

    Dude! The socks, yo! That’s never going to end well!

  4. Emma on December 3rd, 2013 6:16 am

    My shins are tingling now with that oogey feeling of fear…you go girl! And don’t downplay this feat, it is the underlying strength that you are now possessing that rocks!

  5. Kim on December 3rd, 2013 7:16 am

    It reminds me of a gymnastics class I took in college (oh to be young and limber again) where EVERY TIME I approached the, I can’t remember the technical term, hurdle that you kind of run up to and jump on/over? The anticipation of that thing terrified me every time, but the elation of making it over kept me going back for more.
    Your badassery knows no bounds. (Or jumps)

  6. jen on December 3rd, 2013 7:59 am

    Rock on with the box jumps! Those are mentally so hard for me. I am trying to get over my fear of pull-ups (assisted with a resistance band) because I am so afraid I am going to bust a tooth or my nose on the bar coming. I suppose if I used a band with less resistance, I’d be less likely to fear crashing into the bar but then I’d only be able to do one pull up.

  7. Kizz on December 3rd, 2013 8:26 am

    As you should be!

  8. Shawna on December 3rd, 2013 9:15 am

    Jump on with your bad self!

    Plyometric jumps are supposed to be really good training, but they tried to work some bench straddle jumps into BodyPump and I was certain someone in my class (perhaps me) would roll an ankle. No one did, thankfully, but once the mandatory time with that track was done I never brought it out again. Pumpers are very planted exercisers and 90% of my class HATED that track.

    I have to admit though, it did feel good to notice an improvement over the 3 weeks we used it.

  9. Sia on December 3rd, 2013 10:14 am

    Congrats! There is truly nothing like sticking with something long enough that you get to see an actual improvement rather giving up just short of a change.

    There’s a lot of jumping in the Nike Training Club workouts and I’d first I’d skip those parts. I was too fat for jumping, I thought, I felt foolish, my bra wasn’t supportive enough, it was too hard…But then I just…did them. And kept doing them. And they got easier and I stopped caring whether anyone thought I looked like a flying whale and just moved. It was pretty amazing.

  10. Caroline on December 3rd, 2013 10:36 am

    I am terrified of the box jumps. So much so that I’ve successfully gotten my trainer to rename them to ‘step ups’. Her: “Ok so next exercise is box jumps”. Me: “ok cool. step ups”. I have a very clear picture of myself attempting to jump up and busting my face on the step. Not cute. And so, not happening.

  11. Caroline on December 3rd, 2013 10:36 am

    Oh sorry… go you with your jumpy bad ass self!!

  12. dorrie on December 3rd, 2013 10:52 am

    Yay for YOU! That shit is truly bananas. So proud of you.

  13. Liz on December 3rd, 2013 10:53 am

    Jumping is a Sharps family talent.

  14. sal on December 3rd, 2013 11:25 am

    LOVE this post. Good on ya!

  15. Catriona on December 3rd, 2013 11:30 am

    The guy with the socks! Made me laugh so hard I snorted and had to show the kids what was so funny… OMG. Dude, no.

  16. joaaanna on December 3rd, 2013 11:32 am

    Good for you! You SHOULD be proud of yourself.

  17. Alison V on December 3rd, 2013 5:29 pm

    There should be a name for box jump phobia. *shudders* That and those wretched push ups you do while in a handstand against the wall. Or rather the 3-4 times you (um, I) wipe out trying to get into the damn handstand.

  18. Caitlin on December 3rd, 2013 8:27 pm

    Wait. So you’re telling us you’ve basically become a human version of MARU??? Winning.

  19. Angella on December 3rd, 2013 10:34 pm

    So proud of you, you badass. Now I have to go and learn how to do a box jump, I guess. *shakes fist at you*

  20. Corinne on December 5th, 2013 11:18 am

    Ninja jumps are like that for me. I sit there on my knees and wave my arms around and make faces and then, just can’t do it. Can’t. Can’t make myself try the jumping. I have yet to actually do one. All I can think about is smashing all my toes under the weight of my flailing body.

  21. Jessica V on December 5th, 2013 11:03 pm

    Oh holy hell – that last clip nearly killed me. I started giggling so hard that I couldn’t breathe, and IT KEPT GOING, so I couldn’t stop laughing until my husband woke up and gave me the stink eye for shaking the bed. Best thing I’ve seen all week.

    Also – congrats on the box jumps! I have several exercises that my trainer makes me do, and I have the same reaction…I get stuck at the outset and the more I think about it, the less able I am to complete the exercise. But eventually, I get past it – and that is the best feeling!

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