On January 2, 2018, my first workout at Crux Fitness, I stepped outside my fitness comfort zone, quite arguably for the first time since I began lifting weights at age 14.
I’m actually no stranger to a gym. I first lifted weights at the age of 14 in the hot and musky weight room of Central Gwinnett High School — part of freshman football summer workouts. There, I first experienced the barbell bench press, barbell squats, dumbbell curls, and various leg machines, i.e., the standards of any gym. I was no natural bodybuilder but I picked it up pretty well, I liked to exercise, and I enjoyed the camaraderie of working out with teammates. Fast-forward to college at the University of Georgia: the campus’s student recreational center was one of my hotspots. My roommates and I would hit the weight room there a couple nights of the week, again hitting the barbell bench press, barbell squats, dumbbell curls, and various leg machines, but also scoping out the female talent on campus. It was as much of a social activity as anything else in college, but I’d go through my usual weight lifting routine. Nothing much changed when I went to law school on the fitness front: I found the student recreational center at Ole Miss, hit the barbell bench press, barbell squats, dumbbell curls, and various leg machines in the weight room and had a good time relieving some law school stress through exercise.
Since completing my formal education, I’ve been a member at a number of over-franchised, generic, opened 24-hour gyms. Over the years of paying for these gym memberships, my fitness routine declined from up to 6 days per week, to 3 days, to 2, to, well, “occasionally.” When I did go, I found my familiar equipment and exercises: the barbell bench press, barbell squats, dumbbell curls, and various leg machines. I undoubtedly had built a fortress around my comfort zone at the gym.
In the past 8 weeks of this Challenge, Crux trainer Daniel LeBlanc has had myself and the rest of the class flipping a large tractor tire, swinging a sledge hammer, doing various burpees and other compound calisthenics movements, sprinting on treadmills, using a row machine, and the list of unique exercises goes on and on. So many exercises, movements, and equipment have been completely new to me. We actually have done my familiar barbell bench press, barbell squats, and dumbbell curls, but Crux does not allow me to limit myself to just those familiar exercises.
After keeping myself outside my fitness comfort zone for 8 weeks, I can now recognize that the self-imposed limitations in my fitness routine kept me from being my best self. And why did I limit what I was willing to do? I recognize now that I only did what I liked at the gym — what was easy for me. But I only got what I already had out doing that: results were always the same. Through this Get Fit Challenge experience, I now understand that what is good for me (i.e., my body, mind, and health) is often exactly the opposite of what I “like.” Doing things I don’t like, and am not good at, are giving me positive results. So what is good for me is a CHALLENGE, mentally and physically, not a comfort zone.