Let Those Lights Shine!

A post I wrote a couple weeks ago called “Why the Gym Wars Need to Stop” generated some interesting discussions, both online and in person. Some readers felt vindicated; others were irritated. One person’s comment stuck with me and I want to share it. My friend Kinga wrote:

“This post brought a quote to mind:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?” Actually, who are you not to be? … And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. (Marianne Williamson)

“Perhaps what people perceive as arrogance in Cross-Fitters is really just them being as powerful as they can be for that day…and why should they suppress that? If non-CFers feel inadequate/competitive/offended, that’s their issue, probably rooted in something that has absolutely nothing to do with CrossFit. Perhaps they will see people feeling awesome and fantastic, and want what they have. I say, post about your WODS! post about snatches! and jerks! post about your PRs! And non-CFers, post about yoga! Post about jazzercise! Whatever! LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE!”

I should probably add that Kinga does NOT do CrossFit. Her response really resonated with me and I’ve been thinking about it for weeks. Despite my feisty opinions that usually appear on this blog, there’s another side of me that’s very sensitive. Discord and disagreement distress me greatly, and so does the growing chasm between the pro- and anti-CrossFit camps. I want everyone to get along, so my motivation for writing the ‘gym wars’ post was to do my bit of peacemaking.

At the same time, however, that post left me feeling uncomfortable and compromised, as if I’d betrayed a little piece of myself. The whole reason I do CrossFit is because I believe in it and have faith in its extraordinary, singular ability to adapt to everyone who tries it. That’s precisely what makes it so special. It offers ‘WODs for the world.’ It is versatile, multifaceted, easily scaled, and easily intensified. One of my more passionate friends, who was furious about the gym wars post, put it this way: “CrossFit is the sh#*!!!”

So, back to Kinga’s comment. It gave me much-needed permission to feel fiercely proud of what I do at the gym. Lately I’ve been more concerned about not wanting to appear arrogant or overbearing when talking about the gym around non-CFers. I’m self-conscious of the gains I make because they sound too much like bragging when spoken aloud, but then I stop and reassess: Why should I be self-conscious when they are the result of such long, tough hours of hard, exhausting, and painful work? It’s not as if I can just do these things out of the blue. Why should I not be proud? I put in the time and I get the results, just as anyone could if they did the same thing. Seriously. Anyone.

Burpees... yay!
Burpees… yay! Git ‘er done!

What I’m really dying to say, though, is that I did my first-ever workout with fully unassisted pull-ups this week. I’ve been working on them for a year, using progressively thinner rubber bands to help pull myself up, and though I’ve been doing single pull-ups for a while, Thursday was the first time I attacked an entire WOD without any assistance. The WOD was called “Helen” and consisted of 3 rounds of 400 metre run + 21 kettle-bell swings @ 35 lbs + 12 pull-ups. I was the last to finish at 13:27, but probably the proudest in the group because finally, after months of struggle and torn, bloody hands, I actually did all 36 pull-ups alone on the bar. It felt amazing.

Did you do something this week that you’re proud of? That makes you feel satisfied, fulfilled, or happy? Please share in the comments below. Let’s let all our lights shine because we deserve no less.

You might also like:
The Gym Wars Need To Stop
The Bizarre Appeal of a CrossFit “Throwdown”
CrossFit: my husband’s mistress


10 thoughts on “Let Those Lights Shine!

  1. Husband has just started a cross fit club here with a couple of other guys. And he’s had the cheek to install a pull-up bar across an archway in our living-room! 😉

    But erm, I haven’t done anything I’m proud of this last week.

    1. I doubt that you’ve done nothing you’re proud of last week, but good on your husband for working on those pull-ups!! May this coming week be more productive for you!

  2. I love this….I feel the same way that I have to hold back on talking about PRs and other accomplishments in the gym. I’m bad-ass, I can lift heavy sh*t, and I’m proud of it! I have yet to do an unassisted pullup—but i’m learning.


  3. Maybe I’m missing something, but my read on the “gym wars” is not hostility toward individuals feeling justifiably proud of physical accomplishments but concern about the physical harm that often results from the push through pain/limits and go ’till you drop philosophy associated with CF. From the articles I’ve read, the quality of information and coaching seems to vary widely from club to club…making it easy to point out the failings of CF at large only to have arguments countered with personal experiences with a particular local club’s culture. Like most “wars” – both real and written – I wish there was more room for airing of concerns and meaningful discussion without the need to firmly park oneself in a particular camp.

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