I have been thinking of doing a new series of blog posts titled “Lessons from the Cave” and every time I think of the name now it reminds me of the show “Tales from the Crypt.” Remember that? Lol. I don’t even watch scary movies or series but that connection is funny to me so I’m keeping the name. Anyway, in this series, each blog post will cover a different exercise and lessons I’ve had because of that particular exercise.
I’ve told anyone who is willing to hear me that my experience in our gym is an extremely deep and often spiritual one. There are so many lessons and so many moments of clarity that I have through my intense effort and our collective struggle. It is way deeper than any experience I’ve had with other physical exercises. I guess a lot of people experience similar things through physical exercise. We’ve all heard of “runner’s high,” right? Well, we get that, too. After the WOD, we often forget how anxious we were before it and sometimes even forget everything we went through DURING the WOD. That’s how powerful that high is! I think part of this is because we release all the shit we bring into the gym: everything we’ve been carrying the entire day. And part of it is the physiological high you get from having physically given it your all…a sort of delirium that has you come back the next day.
I’m a very introspective person and I pay a lot of attention to my mental space during our sessions. What am I telling myself? Is it serving me? What can I learn here? Can I focus on the positive? How much do I have to fake-it-til-I-make it before I…make it? I often have “a-ha” moments during my workouts and introspections. And, you guys, they TOTALLY translate into life lessons!
Before I start, I want to share that double unders are kind of special for me because it took me a really long time to get them…over 2 years! Continue reading for the lesson…
So, on our first post from our “Lessons from the Cave” I give you my double under lessons:
· Keep your Head Up. I gotta put this first because I like to lead with positivity. I also think it is important for you to know that when I tell myself this during a workout, I do so in Tupac’s voice. You know? “I know you’re fed up ladies, but keep your head up…” During the double unders, standing tall and upright DOES help you with the double unders. You GOTTA keep your head up. No matter how tired you are. This makes a world of difference for me because it helps me with my form. And there’s a sub-lesson here for me and it is to look up. If I remember to keep my head up and I look a little bit up instead of straight ahead, I stand taller and get more double unders. And, in the midst of your struggle, you can still keep your head up and work effectively toward the finish line.
· Be Cool and Collected. Don’t be a Nerd. No offense to nerds here. I used to be one. Actually, I’m pretty sure I’m still one. But here’s the thing with double unders: they require for your body to be fairly “relaxed”. You are trying to move at 2 different speeds: you are jumping high and long while you turn the rope twice under you. That is a lot of coordination; like doing that thing where you rub your belly and pat your head at the same time. At first, I focused a lot on turning the rope as fast as I could and I tensed up like crazy! So, now when I get close to a PR or if I’m nervous about the WOD, I start to tense up again. I get excited and nervous and it shows in my rope. This does not help. You want the rope to follow the same trajectory and you want to keep moving in the same way you were before. Tensing up messes with all of that! So, I try to tell myself, “Be cool! You’re one of the cool kids so don’t act up.” Okay, maybe not all that. But you know what I mean, right? When in the midst of tension or huge progress, stay cool and collected. Imagine yourself strolling through your high school hallways wearing sunglasses. This will take you farther than tensing up!
· You Get Out What You Put In. It took me a long time to do double unders. Like I mentioned, it took me over 2 years of doing CrossFit before I got them. This was because I did not focus on them. I thought I was practicing them a lot but, really, I practiced them here and there. My progress took a leap when I started practicing double unders every chance I got (and when I physically could- be smart here!). I know we are trying to get better at a lot of things but I really think that focused practice will get you the skills that you want. Ultimately, the lesson here is also this—don’t expect more until you do more. This exercise is so much about rhythm and coordination. Practice allows your body to remember that rhythm and to become more coordinated.
· Just Because You Can Dance Salsa Doesn’t Mean You are Coordinated. I have to add this truth as much as it pains me. I like to think I’m a decent dancer and that I’ve got some rhythm. I love dancing salsa and I think I’m a decent dance partner. (Shout-out to my brother who’s one of my favorite dance partners since my mother always made us dance together). Anyway, I thought this would translate into some coordination, rhythm or timing at the gym. It doesn’t. Not at all. I forget what the lesson is here…maybe that we should all be humble when it comes to these exercises? This is hard work and it is different than a lot of the things most of us have done. Respect the process and the hard work it takes.
I’ve got more lessons but I’ll stop here. I’m curious to hear if you’ve had any lessons from doing double unders. If so, I’d love to hear them!
And, remember, “Oooh child, things are gonna get easier…Keep ya head up, ooh, child things’ll get brighter.” And they do!