Important Lessons Crossfit Is Teaching Me About Writing

What Crossfit Is Teaching Me About Writing
by Jenny Hansen


Photo of studly man doing push-ups from SnoridgeCrossfit ~ Note: MY Push-up don’t look like this…


Hubby and I have been trying to get into better shape since last September and after four months, I’ve got to confess it: I still don’t like exercise.

Our fitness plan is Crossfit. It’s not always fun, and I can’t claim that we’re any good at it. (Well…he kind of is. I’m still suckitude.) But you know what? I don’t care.

There’s a lot to be said for just showing up.

We showed up for three months of personal training, just to get us from completely remedial to sort of remedial. Then yesterday, I went to a “regular” class, which means I was with all the normal badass Crossfitters who are BETTER AT IT than I am.

It was my second time in a regular class, and adjustments had to be made.

Here’s what the workout was supposed to be:

  • Warm-up: 800 meter run, then two rounds of: 10 air squats, 1o push-ups, 15 sit-ups
  • 1st exercise: a thingie called the “push press” which involves lifting the barbell over your head. Recommended novice weight: 65 lbs, scaling up through 5 rounds of three to 110 pounds.
  • 2nd exercise: (3 rounds of the following)
    ~ 20 over-the-bar burpees (meaning you do one, jump sideways over your barbell, then do another one…every time over the bar is “one”)
    ~ 10 deadlifts (“girl” weight: 125 lbs)
    ~ 15 thingies called toes-to-bar where you hang from a bar and bring your toes up to it
    ~ 25 thingies called “double-unders” which is jumping rope where it goes under your feet twice before you land
    ~ finishing out with 20 more over the bar burpees

I can’t do all those things. Hell, I can’t do MOST of those things.

(Note: I gave you links so you can see the moves, if you’d like.)

Sure, I try to do the exercises. I’m plenty competitive after all. But, at this point, to do the workout above, exactly as it’s written, it would either take me two hours of cursing, or I’d have an aneurism. I’m just not that strong yet.

So they modify it for me.

Here’s what I did:

  • Warm-up: Several rounds of 10 air squats, 1o modified push-ups, 15 sit-ups. Then, when everyone else returned from the run, we all did 2-3 more rounds together.
  • 1st exercise: push presses starting at 35 pounds and ending the 5th round at 55 pounds.
  • 2nd exercise: (3 rounds of the following)
    ~ 10 over-the-bar burpees (the coach asked me skip over the barbell after the first round because my jumps barely cleared it and made him nervous)
    ~ 10 deadlifts (85 pounds every round)
    ~ 15 sit-ups
    ~ 25 regular jump rope hops (no doubles for me yet…I might break something)
    ~ finishing out with 10 more modified over-the-bar burpees

I did my 3 rounds of the second sequence in fifteen minutes and thirty-five seconds and I was DAMN PROUD. Seriously…I was delighted to get through all three rounds. And all the other people in class were yelling encouragement on the sidelines because, in their words, at least I was there.

[Yes, I’m finally getting to my point.]

I’m a writer. Some days I’m a shitty one and some days I’m kind of good. And I know if I keep practicing, some day I’ll be a great one.

Writing is like push-ups…

When I first started, I couldn’t even get my chest to the ground once. It didn’t matter what position I was in, I’d pretty much melt to the ground like the Wicked Witch of the West. It was more of an ooze than a push. Nowadays, if I modify things with a tall box or against the wall, I can do the full range of motion. If I lay on the ground, I can push myself UP. I’m still an epic fail at the “down and up,” but I can do one direction.

I’ve been assured that (with another 3-4 months of practice) I’ll be able to do wonderful push-ups. Smooth, controlled and continuous.

I’m pretty much taking that on faith. Remember, after almost four months of running, rowing, weightlifting and stretching, I still can’t do a push-up or a great squat. And I’ve only lost two pounds.

But bit by bit, it’s getting easier.
Slowly, I’m getting stronger.
Gradually, I’m starting to not feel so inferior.

As long as I only concentrate on getting through that one hour…

Great writing takes:

  • Daily practice, and an understanding that you might not look good doing it.
  • Lots of exercises that feel awkward the first 10-20 times we do them.
  • Surrounding yourself with people who are better at it than you.
  • The willingness to look like an idiot for a while.
  • A community of support that will help you pick yourself up when you fail, encourage you when you plateau and cheer you on to the finish line.

All you need to do is focus on that one page, a single scene or your current chapter. The rest will come later, as you get stronger and faster and better.

Push-ups are teaching me that lesson, one agonizing session at a time.



About Jenny Hansen

By day, Jenny provides training and social media marketing for an accounting firm. By night she writes humor, memoir, women’s fiction and short stories. After 15 years as a corporate software trainer, she’s delighted to sit down while she works.

When she’s not at her personal blog, More Cowbell, Jenny can be found on Twitter at JennyHansenCA or at Writers In The Storm. Jenny also writes the Risky Baby Business posts at More Cowbell, a series that focuses on babies, new parents and high-risk pregnancy.

© 2012 Jenny Hansen. All content on this page is protected by copyright. If you would like to use any part of this, please contact me at the above links to request permission.

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