Beth’s Story: The Power of Gradual Change

It’s no secret that life as you know it can change in a split second: A car accident. A proposal. A betrayal. A birth.

But life can also change gradually, sometimes so slowly that you don’t even recognize it changing until you look back at where you came from, where you started. And the thing about gradual change is that you can’t pinpoint the exact moment your life was altered. More often than not, this type of change takes place through a series of events playing out — events that can only be understood in looking back.

As it has for many people, Crossfit has been one of those gradual changes for me. But I suppose if I had to pinpoint when it was that my life began to change, it came on a blustery day a little over six months ago, in November 2016.

That day, as snow fell outside, I’d been looking through photos that had been taken on Thanksgiving. In the photos, I was dressed all in black, my attempt to make my body appear slimmer than it was. I knew I had gained weight and let myself go physically since graduating college in 2015, but in photos it became painfully evident. This wasn’t the first time I had noticed, not by far. But for some reason this time was different. This time made me realize I had to do something about it before my self-image continued to plummet and take my happiness along with it.

Trying Crossfit had always been in the back of my mind. I just hadn’t reached the point of desperation I needed to get myself to walk through those doors. But on this day, that’s where I found myself. I messaged the Crossfit Repo Facebook page, not sure if I’d get a quick response. But to my surprise I did. And not only that, but Corey (one of the coaches) invited me to stop in as soon as I wanted to. So, I told him I would come to 12:30 class the next afternoon. Then I wondered what the hell I had gotten myself into. But it was too late. I was in this.

On November 30, I walked through the doors of Crossfit Repo for the first time. I was scared and intimidated and insecure. But I was also hellbent on not coming off that way. And I did a decent job of going with the flow, until Corey told me to jump up and grab the rings that were hanging from the ceiling. I wasn’t sure I could even reach them, let alone hang from them. But with some urging, I did just that. I even learned a little bit about kipping, one of the techniques used in Crossfit.

After class, I vividly remember texting my mom and saying “I haven’t felt that strong or that capable in a long time.” I even teared up as I typed that message, because it was the truth. I felt empowered that day. I felt like for the first time in a long time, I was in control of my body and its future.

I went back the next day. And the next. And the next. And for the first few weeks, my body reminded me daily that this was all new. Muscles I didn’t even know existed were sore. I moved in ways I had never moved, and did things I didn’t think I was capable of.

As time passed, I found that my body was responding to this new lifestyle. I began dropping weight and putting on muscle. I hit a weight that I didn’t think I’d ever see again in my life. And sure, that made me happy. But to my surprise I didn’t even care that much. Over the months, without me even realizing it, Crossfit had become less about what I looked like and more about what I was capable of. My body had become an ally rather than an enemy.

These past six months of Crossfit have been some of the most mentally trying of my life. But they also have been the most rewarding. I have never in my life taken part in something that has come to mean what Crossfit means to me.

Being part of Repo has taught me to love myself again. It’s taught me to believe in myself and my abilities. It’s taught me to be vulnerable and brave, often at the same time. But it’s also taught me it’s OK to have days where I don’t feel any of those ways. And I’ll be honest, I have those days still — more of them than I’d like to have. But it’s those days that I need to be at the box the most.

Because here’s the thing: While I love the physical aspect of Crossfit, that’s not why I go. I go because I love the people more. At the end of the day, that’s why I come back. Those people have become my family. They’ve seen me at my absolute lowest points and they continue to love me anyway. They’ve seen me in tears over a workout and know what it’s like because they’ve been there. They’ve watched me storm out of the box after a not-so-good class and welcome me back with open arms the next day. They’ve seen pieces of my depression and anxiety and they understand that on those days I need to be quiet and I need to work out and that’s it.

Shortly after starting at Repo, I read this quote: “You will be too much for some people. Those aren’t your people.” And I thought to myself, “I’ve found my people. My people are at Repo.” And it’s true. At Repo, we all come from various walks of life. We each have a different path that brought us in that door. But once we’re all inside, it doesn’t even matter what that path consisted of. What matters is that we’re there now, together. And that’s pretty close to magic, if you ask me.

Though I can’t pinpoint the exact moment my life changed, I can tell you it has changed for the better and I can tell you why: I found Crossfit. And through Crossfit, I found my people. I found myself. And because of that, I wouldn’t change one aspect of the path that brought me to here and now.

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