Written by Megan Fischl Zeiser
They say good things come to those who wait. But how long are you truly willing to wait? Days? Weeks? Months? Years?
Anyone who knows me well knows that patience isn’t my strongest virtue and that the nickname “Megan on a Mission” was earned from years of walking quickly and being in a constant state of rush.
It should come as no surprise that my first few months of Crossfit were a rude awakening. I was 2 years into dating Andrew before I finally caved and signed up for a Crossfit onramp. I swam competitively for years, played water polo in college, and completed some half or full marathons. Crossfit wouldn’t phase me… or so I thought.
The first time facing reality was during the end of the on-ramp class. It was time to learn the snatch. For some reason, I thought I should attempt my first snatch with the 35lb weight bar.
TIMBER!!!! I fell over like a drunk sorority girl trying to navigate a brick street in high heels (shout out to Miami Redhawks!). I was mortified! Who falls in public?!?! All I bruised was my ego, but I remember thinking I would never graduate from that tech bar for snatches.
The first few months of Crossfit were kind of a blur, but I generally remember not liking it at all. I dreaded learning new movements as I was so uncomfortable and afraid to embarrass myself again. I was also frustrated by watching people master skills like double-unders and butterfly pull-ups while I was tripping over singles and using what I thought was an obscene number of bands for support. I was used to giving 200% at swimming practices and I thought if I just tried harder, things would fall into place quickly. Push through the heavier weight, do more reps no matter how ugly.
Then came the first Crossfit injury in summer of 2015. We were attempting 1RM back squats. 125lbs felt great so I obviously went for 135lb. About midway up, I realized I couldn’t do it and had no idea how to bail so I bent forward and rolled the bar over my head in what members of my former gym describe as one of the scariest things they’d seen in a gym. I went to the ER and was diagnosed with a strained neck muscle (and a bruised ego).
At some point during the 30 minute MRI, I realized my frustration and subsequent injury were the direct result of not being patient and not accepting that I was still learning. I realized that I needed to slow down if I was serious about improving myself safely. Proper form is/was/always will be more important than the weight/numbers. I started to pay attention more and ask questions about form and function. I started watching YouTube videos and talking to Andrew more about Crossfit at home. I got hooked. The obsession with watching “The Games” and unreasonable girl crushes on Kara Webb and “the Dottirs” soon followed. And don’t get me started on Dan Bailey…
I started setting smaller goals, stopped comparing myself to everyone else, and finally appreciated what I was doing. A few months later, it was time to build to a 1RM snatch. I grabbed my usual tech bar and worked the bar up to 50lbs and things went well. I grabbed the 35lb bar and loaded the 10lb plates. I stared at the bar for what seemed like an eternity and went for it. I DID NOT FALL OVER!!!! I had finally graduated from the tech bar!
Other small victories followed. I did my first box jump on a wooden box (NOTE: These still terrify me as I’m convinced wooden boxes are the Devil’s work). I’ll never forget the first time I did a pull-up after a childhood traumatized by Presidential Fitness test failures. The first time I put 100lbs over my head, I remember yelling “YES” loudly and drawing an embarrassing amount of attention to myself. These accomplishments did not come overnight. Some were weeks apart, others were months. These accomplishments may seem minor to some, but they were huge to me. I kept trying, kept pushing, and truly tried to embrace the fact the gains were not going to be automatic.
Andrew and I often talk about goals. I rattled off a laundry list of things I wanted to be able to do. He challenged me to pick 3 so in Summer of 2016, I made a list: 5 unbroken strict pull-ups, kick up into a handstand, and back squat 200lbs. When I tell you my first attempts to kick up into a handstand were a humbling and frustrating experience, I am being kind. There are 3 very patient coaches from Chicago who witnessed several reality-TV-worthy public meltdowns over frustrations with strength and self-confidence. I spent a LOT of time attempting and failing, and realized that I was missing all the other joys coming from Crossfit and put the handstand goal all the way to the back of my mind so that I wouldn’t feel defeated.
In fall of 2017, Andrew and I moved to Columbus, bought a house in Dublin and, MOST IMPORTANTLY, joined Friendship. As part of my 2018 new year’s resolution, I decided to revisit my “Crossfit 3” list and signed up for Gymnastics club knowing damn well that I couldn’t do kipping pull-ups, much less muscle-ups. Nevertheless, I put myself into Jenny Borda’s very capable, usually poking-someone, hands. There were a
lot of days I just wanted to hide in the corner out of frustration with my own limitations compared to what the Kirkmans and Gymnast-Barbie Lauren were doing. As inspiring as it is to watch others excel, it was also very intimidating. But then I remembered that snatching and box jumps didn’t happen overnight. Jenny has an expression that I love that I will probably butcher in attempt to quote, “Getting better at moving your body gets you better at moving your body.” I didn’t understand it at first but about a month later I went to do overhead squats, a moment that I’ve always struggled with, and found it MUCH easier. I knew that was because gymnastics had made me stronger. I kept going to gymnastics, scaling every move as I needed to and finally realizing I could watch the others in awe and learn from them, but still be on my own path.
On Saturday Feb 17, the gymnastics programming included some form of Handstand work and something in my mind said “why not?” and went for it. Sure enough, I kicked up into my first handstand. I was so excited it took every bit of self-control not to just run over and tackle Jenny in a bear hug. In hindsight, I should have, just to see her reaction. Two weeks ago, I hit my 5 strict pull-up goal! I was over the moon! My hard work and patience was finally paying off!
Over the past 7 weeks, Jeff Binek has taken us to some deep, dark places as part of the #SquatsWithFriends cycle. Tonight, we finally faced the music and I heard the most beautiful melody a barbell could make to the tune of 200 pounds. I’m still shaking with pride and excitement as I type.
At some point, I’m sure I’ll make a new “Crossfit 3” list. I am not sure what will be on it or how long it will take to achieve those new goals. Whatever they are, I’m sure they’ll be worth the wait.
Author Megan Zeiser has been a part of the Friendship community for 6-months. In that short time she has participated in many of our community events, supported and cheered on friends to massive PRs and improvements, and generally upheld what it means to be a Friendship Athlete.