CrossFit is dangerous. Life is dangerous. The news reminds us of this each day. Recently, there was been a lot of media coverage focusing on the dangers of CrossFit, specifically rhabdomyolysis, which according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, "is the breakdown of muscle fibers that leads to the release of muscle fiber contents (myoglobin) into the bloodstream."
Here's how I see it. People are afraid of change. How come there are not news stories going viral about the dangers of sitting on your couch, or watching too much television or living a sedentary lifestyle? Sure there are stories about these things, but not ones which stir the emotions and create fear and judgment towards those individuals involved. rhabdomylosis is nothing new and it is not specific to CrossFit. It can occur in crush injuries, alcoholism, heatstroke.
The reality? CrossFit is dangerous. Getting up every day is dangerous. Walking out your front door in the morning is dangerous but people have taught you how to do it correctly, to look both ways before you cross the road. We take precautions all day long to do things the right way. We wear our seat belts, brush our teeth, follow traffic laws. There are many things that we do all day long to keep us safe.
CrossFit is no different. If you are going to engage in something new you have to learn the basics, you have to know about the dangers. It would be the same as if you were training for a triathlon or a 5K, anything that is new you have to learn how to do it properly. CrossFit is no different. When you start, you learn the basics of how your body is designed to move. You have a certified CrossFit coach teaching you those very things. My coach does not expect things of me that would be dangerous or harmful. That does not mean that people don't make those choices for themselves, CrossFit is dangerous when done improperly or without a well-trained coach. Injuries most commonly occur when someone is making poor decisions about their body or doing too much too soon. So make sure you educate yourself on CrossFit before beginning, make sure you have a coach who knows you.
With all of the negativity out there, I want to take a minute to focus on the many benefits of CrossFit. So what is CrossFit about for me?
First, CrossFit empowers me to achieve things that I once felt were unattainable.
After the accident, I had to work hard to walk, to go up and down stairs, to put pressure on my left ankle, to walk without losing my balance. When I could do those things well enough to be released from physical therapy, I was released. Now what? I could function and I was proud but I knew there was so much more work to do.
Enter CrossFit. Although I have worked hard to regain my walking abilities, my right leg has a complete inferior vena cava blockage, which causes circulation issues that keep me from doing some elements of CrossFit. It took me a while to accept that fact, but now I understand and I make smart choices. If the WOD (Workout of the Day) includes running, I know that it is not in my best interest. Yes, I was a runner before the accident. Yes, I want to run, so bad, but the dangers outweigh the benefits. So I play smart. It is my responsibility to make good choices for my body.
My coach, Amanda Greaver, understands and makes accommodations for me and with me. She helps me fight for it always and recently wrote an article on this very idea. While I'm here on this earth I want to strive to be the best me so that I can be the best to others. Being the best me involves CrossFit. Many elements in life are not tangible, not measurable. However, CrossFit gives me a gauge for improvement. CrossFit is healthy for not only my body but for my mind and spirit.
Second, CrossFit allows my children to see that anything is possible.
They went from watching me be taken away on a stretcher at the scene of the accident and thinking I was dead, to seeing me lying in a hospital bed, to sitting up, to biking, to walking, to participating in CrossFit. CrossFit is showing my kids that with persistence and devotion, you can get better at something. My 8-year-old daughter is an aspiring gymnast, so I told her she should try CrossFit. She attends the kids classes and is learning so much about hard work and being proud of herself for accomplishing new goals.
Third, it's about change. Plain and simple. Change is challenging. Change is scary. Sometimes we chose to make changes, other times our life is changed for us. After the accident, I resisted the changes in my life. I was angry about them but I am learning that when change comes you have to embrace it. What other choice do you have? So I started making changes. Change in your life makes some people uncomfortable. Change brings controversy. You have a brain injury and you're doing CrossFit? Hold the presses, isn't that the one that people are dying from? Shock, fear, trepidation. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but people die from everything: football injuries, driving a car, going to work, heart defects, sedentary life styles, over eating, under eating, over working... and on and on, you get the idea.
Fourth, this may blow people's minds, but very simply, I need this for me. I need this for me. I willingly give myself away every day to other things. But for those 60 minutes, it's about me. It's about me and I want to shout it from the rooftops some days. No kids, no bills, no emails to return, no laundry, just me and myself and a few goals to reach.
I continue to embark on my CrossFit journey because it pushes me. The box I work out at is CrossFit Goat (Greatest of All Time). I could not have chosen a more apropos title. I've been given another chance at life. While I live it, I want to not only do it well but work to be better every day then I was the day before. Many elements in life are not tangible, not measurable. As I continue to recover from a severe traumatic brain injury, there is no concrete way to tell exactly how much I am improving. However, CrossFit gives me a gauge for improvement. CrossFit is healthy for not only my body, but for my mind and spirit.
Maybe CrossFit is just the change you need in your life and maybe it isn't. What hurdle are you trying to overcome? What has you stuck? Maybe CrossFit will be the thing to put you in forward motion. I know it was for me.