It’s been about 8 weeks since gyms and CrossFit boxes across Texas closed their doors. And let me tell you, it feels like years. For better or for worse, things are starting to reopen, and many people are very much looking forward to running back in. But before we grab our kettlebells and call dibs on the squat rack, there’s a few things I’d like the CrossFit community to consider before going back to the box.
Going Back to the Box – Things to Keep in Mind
I’m definitely not going to try to persuade anyone to stay home after boxes re-open. There’s plenty of information that is widely available, and we all gotta make the best decisions for ourselves and our families based on that. We’re all grownups, and I’m not in the habit of trying to run circuses that don’t belong to me (my own circus is time consuming enough). However, here are a few things I think we should all consider and recognize before we head back in.
Your Box Might be Different
Even after gyms and boxes re-open, it’s fairly likely there will be some changes and precautions that different boxes may implement. There’s a good chance that you will be encouraged (or told) not to share equipment during workouts; which honestly shouldn’t be a huge inconvenience. No sharing sweaty barbells? Not a bad rule, in my opinion.
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But there may be other items you are used to using communally, like chalk, bands, lifting belts, etc that you may not have access to right away. If you cannot workout without something that you often share with your peers, now might be a good time to consider making a few purchases. I recently ordered a bottle of liquid chalk from amazon, and have zero regrets.
Your box might also have some new limitations on the number of people in each class, in order to try to maintain some social distancing standards. You might need to start reserving space if that’s not something your box has done in the past, and this could mean you might have to be a little more flexible or plan ahead.
Remember, it’s not likely that your box owners and staff are going to love the process of having to implement all of these wonderful changes. No one enjoys being the fun police, not even moms. But all business owners have to make decisions that align with their value system, and you have the choice between being a demanding jerk or a compassionate human being. Make the right choice.
Your Body Will be Different
Your box isn’t the only thing that has probably experienced some changes over the past few months. There’s a pretty solid chance that your workout routine has been somewhat or significantly altered recently. Even if you have an amazing home gym setup, working out alone is just a different experience, and your body has probably adapted accordingly.
Does this mean that you’ve lost all your strength or endurance? No. Even if you’ve done nothing but cheeto curls during the pandemic (no judgement here), muscle memory is a legit thing. Now, it’s not likely that you’re going to walk back into the box, and pick up right where you left off. There’s a good chance that there has been some sort of dip in your overall strength, endurance, or ability to redline.
And as frustrating as it might be to recognize this, remember that there are certainly worse things than squatting 20lbs less than you did a few months ago.
While we’re on the topic of being reasonable human beings, here’s a few recommendations that might help you be a little more patient with your body. Don’t compare your body now with your body then. It’s pointless, frustrating, and unnecessary to constantly focus on previous lifting PR’s and body composition if you are in a different time and place (like say a week after a disruptive pandemic).
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It’s also equally fruitless to compare your abilities and body to other people around you. You have no idea if Craig had a full rig setup at home, and had nothing but time to workout after he was laid off. Your situation is not their situation, and comparing yourself to anyone is just generally not a good time. Don’t do it.
Performance Will Return
Your performance will probably be less than stellar (for you) for a few weeks, and it might be a frustrating experience to work back to up the place you were a few months ago.
And that’s ok. But it all comes back, eventually. Athletes return from invasive surgery, after taking months of recovery time, and work back up and continue to see progress. Some studies have shown that muscle memory can hang around for up to 15 years, and endurance can be recovered in a short period of time as well.
But the key here is that you have to be patient with your body. If you return to CrossFit knowing that your fitness will come back, and you approach WODs with some intelligence, you’re going to set yourself up well.
If however, you return and try to force your body into submission, you take a huge risk that you’re going to injure yourself. And then what? Maybe you get another 8 weeks of time on the couch! Don’t make this mistake.
Overtraining, stress (which can increase the risk of injury), and soft tissue damage are all much worse than having to check the ego and accept reality.
The last little reminder I will leave you with is that we’ve all had reality smack us in the face at some point since the coronavirus crisis began. Let’s not lose touch with that reality. It can be frustrating to have to adapt or accept changes that you might not love. But instead of focusing on the inconvenience of having to sign up for a workout you were previously able to just walk into, I invite you to simply be grateful for the opportunity to workout with your buddies again.
Focus on having fun and enjoying yourself, and don’t forget that none of this should be taken for granted. Because now, more than ever, we should have the awareness that nothing is guaranteed. Get back in the box when you feel good about it, and don’t be a turd.