Tuesday, 13 December 2011

How I stared the Spartan down

This little guy sums up how I felt stepping into that gym

The story of this week so far (dating from before the creation of this blog);

As I've previously mentioned, I suffer from some social anxieties, not a crippling anxiety that destroys a life, but I'm afraid of judgement from new people. And so as I walked up to the CrossFit gym where I was about to do my introductory sessions I started to slow down my walking pace, I looked at my clock and was hideously early, my palms were getting clammy and my pulse was increasing steadily. I know this feeling all too well and my heart begins to sink whilst my knees go weak. I'm standing, slightly out of breath, on a cold night looking into a gym where some rugby player is doing this odd sort of pull up (I later recognise it as a 'muscle up' [as if the move wasn't daunting enough to the unfit, they had to give it a name to drive home that only the toned and physical elite can achieve this gargantuan Spartan display of power]) and I feel, as sweat rolls down my temple, like I've already been five rounds in a boxing ring. So I stood there and thought 'I haven't told anyone that I'm coming here, I could just walk home and forget the whole thing. No one will ever know'.....except I would know. And that was enough, because for as long as I can remember I have given everything I've started up. I couldn't play rugby after eight weeks of training when I was 10 years old so I threw my boots into a bush on the way home from school. I never took part in PE at secondary school because I wasn't 'good' at sports (and because I preferred smoking in my friends garage and listening to heavy metal). I tried taking up running years ago and immediately thought I should be able to do it, I did two completely unplanned runs and then quit because it was 'too hard. I still can't swim (something I WILL remedy in 2012) and have never really given learning that much of a shot because I'm completely body conscious and had a childhood fear of drowning.

So as you can see I've done my fair share of quitting so this time shouldn't have been any different, but something inside decided that I should walk into that gym, declare myself a loser, and get the hell on with turning my life around. After all, I have recently started a relationship with my beautiful girlfriend (I have no idea how I pulled this one off, but I did) who has taught me that my studenty ways of drinking and partying too much for the last two years has managed to lead me into a state where I'm hanging on to my degree by a thread, in more debt than I should be, and have really pissed off my mother. Also with my beloved grandfather passing away from lung cancer and, with me being a smoker (soon to be ex), I thought it was time to start losing weight, gaining strength, and increasing my chances of survival.

So, back to the gym, I walked through the door, was greeted with a smile and a form to fill out and then jumped straight in doing the first ever Olympic lifts with a barbell that I've ever done. It was as easy as that, no one turned me away, no one laughed at me, no one decided I wasn't allowed to try. In fact it was the complete opposite, I had great encouragement and reward. An hour later I walked out of there with my head held high. My flexibility was awful, I could hardly lift any weight, and my form was shocking. But I had managed to stare down my own demons. And, for a nice Brucey bonus, at the beginning of the session one of the trainers mentioned that this was the first introduction class where everyone had turned up and the feeling that went through me when I realised that I had been 'that person' so many times in my life was something between shock, shame, and happiness as it wasn't me any more.

Enough of this self-inspirational crap.

So since joining http://www.runnersforum.co.uk and reading through a lot of the posts there I've decided to withhold using the Army Fitness Guide until I've completed the Couch to 5k course, my reason for doing this is that the Couch to 5K offers a much better progression for the beginner than the Army fitness book and so once my stamina and strength are built through running and CrossFit I will be enduring the heavy duty regimes in the Army book.


  1. Hello! Saw your post on the runners forum. I'm doing Couch to 5K too! And like you, I have some issues with social anxiety so it's been a bit of a challenge getting out to go running with people walking about. Anyway, good on you for going to the gym, and well done... that deserves a massive pat on the back. Good luck with Couch to 5K, it's done wonders for me so far. :)

  2. Thank you :) and good luck to you as well.