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Column: How stepping out of your comfort zone can do wonders for your health

girl lifting weights Maddie Medina

Maddie Medina
Oxford Stories
mrmedina@go.olemiss.edu

Based on countless testimonials about this activity completely changing, and even saving lives, one would think it must be some sort of magic. But it’s not. It’s CrossFit.

As a member myself, I have seen the changes this sport can make in one’s life. Despite the stigma around it, CrossFit isn’t crazy athletes with absurd amounts of muscle outside flipping tires. It involves a lot more.

A more accurate depiction of CrossFit is a group of normal people, all committed to their health, in a circle cheering on the last athlete to finish the day’s workout. Community is arguably the most valuable part of the sport.

There are very few gyms in the world where anyone can walk in and instantly feel welcomed and embraced by a community of people who share similar goals. This atmosphere keeps busy people coming back to improve their health.

It isn’t a competitive, judgy environment in which new members are intimidated or feel unwelcome. Instead, each member remembers their first day walking in the gym and makes every effort to welcome the newcomer.

Although there may be the few elite athletes in the gym lifting heavy weights and performing skills that most of the general public would never dream of attempting, the majority of CrossFitters are normal individuals just trying to get healthy.

Each and every movement is scalable. One will not walk into the gym on their first day and be asked to lift the same as the member next to them who has been there for three years.

Friends working on handstands. Photo by Maddie Medina

I could go on debunking the myths many individuals believe about CrossFit that stop them from walking into a gym. Instead, I think it’s more beneficial to focus on what one will gain from taking that intimidating first step.

Life gets busy, things happen, and usually the first thing we neglect is ourselves. Then, it becomes habit. We fall into the trap of “I haven’t worked out in years. Why should I start now?”

Sadly, this is what many Americans believe. When our health declines, almost everything in our lives does as well. We cannot take care of others or get stuff done when we neglect ourselves.

Therefore, the choice needs to be made every day to invest in your health to reap the benefits later. If we take action now, we will be thanking ourselves later.

It doesn’t have to be anything crazy either. It is best to start small and work our way up to being successful and meeting our goals. By committing an hour a day to ourselves, and spending that hour at a local gym or CrossFit class, we will make a difference.

I have known countless people who for years neglected their bodies and health, and one day decided it was time to make a change. After entering a CrossFit gym just once, one will find a community and make lifelong friends.

Lifting practice. Photo by: Maddie Medina

Before long, going to the gym becomes something many people look forward to, and their bodies begin changing for the better and becoming healthier.

The key is finding something fun. This is why I am a strong believer in CrossFit because it becomes a hobby more than another responsibility.

Once we enter this community of like-minded people who care about their bodies and health, we become more likely to pick up some their habits and care about our own health.

In almost every CrossFit gym I have walked in, there are conversations about the newest healthy recipe, or the new healthy item at a local restaurant, or simply tricks to live a healthy lifestyle when life gets busy.

This is where long term habits are created. When one is surrounded by a supportive community who supports their goals and holds them accountable, they are much more likely to adhere to these goals throughout much of their lives.

This is precisely what a CrossFit gym offers, without all of the scary stereotypes that many people hold about them, based on what they see on television.

If I could encourage each individual to do one thing, it would be to take one CrossFit class, or any exercise class. It only takes 21 workouts to form a habit, and before you know it, exercise will become a weekly, or even daily, thing that you will look forward to. Your new commitment to health will transform into every aspect of your life.

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