Start of summer 2016 I can safely say I was stuck in a rut. Working in cambridge for 3 years and living there for 2 I had begun to build a solid life for myself. I had a good job, routine, friends and I liked to keep fairly active. I saw a PT once a week at the time and was a member of the local gym – furiously entering digits of calories counted, distance covered, daily step count, weight lost, weight gained….you know the drill…
Sadly though I couldn’t shake the feeling that my progress grinding to a halt, I just wasn’t going anywhere. I was just going back and forth swapping from idea to idea, money and time lost on ventures which didn’t seem to be giving me results or more than anything happiness.
Now I hate the word ‘hobbie’, but it kept coming up in discussion as to how I was to improve my situation. I prefer the sentence ‘I needed a commitment of time, money, social investment and energy that didn’t involve work’….so yes, I needed a damn hobbie.
Crossfit had come up in discussion with various people a long time before began to really listen. Truth is I probably wasn’t ready til then. I decided that I would make it a personal mission just to go down and enquire, nothing scary just go and look around.
I had 2 weeks annual leave coming up, and had signed myself up to the Summer Wolf obstacle run 4 months earlier, which would mark the start of those two weeks. I was pleased with my plan and once my mind was set I figured there’s no going back now.
I wondered down to Crossfit Cambridgeshire one Monday and walked straight into the middle of a class. Staring at the open space, complete lack of the nice high tech machines I knew so well. Barbells, kettlebells, dumbbells and some sort of scaffolding that terrified me…I suddenly wondered if this was a good idea, I felt like a very very small fish.
After everyone having a look at who had wandered in, thankfully I could see a friendly woman who had recommended crossfit. She gave me some words of encouragement, and soon was greeted by the coach running the class – Lee. He basically gave me a brief rundown of the gym and arranged an appointment for a proper chat within the next few days. I left considerably calmer than when I walked in, and looked forward to the first step.
A few days later I had my appointment with Lee. He explained how the gym began and how it had developed over the years. The growth of the members and strength of the community. I realised that many others had found something here more than just ‘getting fit’ or ‘looking ripped’, this would be a chance for me to really build up my life here socially too. The prospect filled me with positivity, and I was more determined than ever that I would make this work.
I had been informed by Lee at the meeting that I would be introduced to the gym through a very structured induction process. This consisted of personal training sessions with my mentor. I had been allocated to James.
Beginning with a movement assessment, I would then complete tutorial PT sessions (foundation course), then re assessed to see if I was able to graduate to join the gyms classes, seemed relatively simple enough! First time I met James was the day before my Summer Wolf Run. It was my ‘movement assessment’ the first stage of the induction.
I have to admit it was a strange experience. After being introduced to James, Lee proceeded to explain my goals etc. Then I was instructed to do various exercises while both watched with furrowed brows, chatting and furiously writing notes on the way I was moving. Needless to say I felt the need to ask ‘did I pass??’ after all that!
Odd as the assessment may sound, what they were able to tell me was fascinating. Which muscles I was and wasn’t using, my range of movement, flexibility, strengths, weaknesses, I was astounded. I was also able to discuss my upcoming run and the prospect of developing my understanding of nutrition – something I still bend James’ ear about today! More than anything I left once again with the feeling that whatever I was getting myself into, it was going to be positive.
I must say that the added touch of a few encouraging emails from James regarding my run the next day, including how to try and recover from it, was enough to cement the feeling – I was in safe hands. Something he didn’t need to do, but was an essential start to the support he still gives me to this day.
Following the run, I had my two weeks to get as many of my induction sessions in as possible, and I knew salon hours in my job would soon get in the way. Each session I had to complete my own personal warmup plan, created following my movement assessment. Following this James had a detailed format for each session which consisted of intensive teaching and note taking, followed by a miniature workout – similar to what I would expect in a class. My stubbornness wanted to rush through the sessions but James managed to slow me down and even catch me out when I hadn’t been doing my homework!!
Each session though I felt I my knowledge was growing, and I was teaching my body to do technical movements I didn’t know I had in me. Prior to joining I had never even picked up a barbell, let along be able to complete complex lifts. I also found that movements I had been doing for years such as squatting and rowing, could be improved no end to optimise the result.
I was able to revamp my nutrition after completing a food diary for James and talking through in detail what I could improve and why. I was pleased that nutrition seemed to be his passion, as like many I found the overload of information available on the subject nowadays difficult to sift through.
Graduating to classes
The evening of my last session with James I was so excited my induction was up, but also tinged with apprehension that soon I would be braving it without him for safety.
I did my hardest workout of the sessions, but was truly astounded by how fit I had become in 3 weeks. Despite being stronger and fitter now, I still believe those 3 weeks were the quickest change I have ever seen within myself. My brain and body were working together with everything I had learned, and I realised my confidence had grown with that too.
Socially I had quickly started to become a familiar face, trying to chat to as many people as possible, and even being invited to my first event even before I had graduated! Posing for my photo with James I realised my first class was 4 days away and I wouldn’t have him with me. I was nervous to say the least.
I still think back to my first class, especially if I’m having a down day, or maybe a workout didn’t go to plan. I felt right back to being the small fish again, but my new found confidence and stubbornness forced the feeling into my shoes and I was determined to act confident even if inside I was wobbling. I didn’t get a high score in the workout but turns out it didn’t really matter. I was a full member now and this was my home as much as it was theirs.
Oh I still probably drive James mad with my questions, but I’m pretty sure he’s aware it comes from my drive to better myself and build on everything he has taught me.
This is true of all the trainers – Lee, Phil and James – in every class, with the same level of enthusiasm, whether it’s 6:30am or 8pm. They all have instilled confidence and self belief in their members that can only come with their astounding knowledge and incredible amounts of patience. They have also taught us all that if a workout doesn’t go to plan, we make our best progress from our weaknesses, and that patience really is everything.
As for my future as a member I have settled into a happy routine of workouts, muscle aches, good days, cheat days and overall personal progression. I look forward to more social events including the Christmas Party – the first ever not related to my job.
Honestly I never knew a ‘hobbie’ could have given me what Crossfit Cambridgeshire has.
Moral of my story, we’re all small fish sometimes. You just gotta find your pond.