So I listen to a lot of sports talk radio. Mainly it’s local talk about my alma mater, the University of Louisville. It passes my morning drives to downtown quickly. While sitting in traffic if you listen long enough you’ll hear folks who call into these shows say a common phrase: first time caller, long time listener.
So they’re saying “hey, I’m a huge fan of the sports in this town, your radio show in particular, and today the topic is so compelling I’ve overcome my fear for public broadcast systems and have an important contribution to this conversation.” It takes guts to call into these shows and risk sounding like an idiot. Most folks, myself included, would rather sit back, observe and keep our opinions to our buddies in the break room at work.
Well, that was my fitness life in a nutshell until November 2014. A couple weeks ago, as I watched the events of the 2015 Reebok CrossFit Games, I thought of that phrase, “first time caller, long time listener,” because for the first time in my life as an adult I’m actively participating in a real competition that tests my fitness level. I’m watching Ben Smith, Matt Fraser and Katrin Davidsdottir go through workouts that test their fitness limits. And when I go into the gym tomorrow I’m going to be doing the same thing they’re doing on ESPN.
Okay, not exactly the same thing. I mean, the amount of weight I push around is much less than theirs and the total number of reps I complete is way lower than theirs. But I’m training the same 10 physical fitness skills (cardiovascular/respiratory, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance & accuracy) that they’re working on using the same movements. I have coaches just like them. I have friends and teammates in the gym cheering me on just like them. I even have the same shoes.
It’s like watching Michael Jordan compete in the NBA finals and running a full court game of basketball with your buddies immediately after its over. Except instead of a basketball I’ve got a 20-pound medicine ball. Instead of a basketball goal I’ve got a Rogue rack with pull-up bars, barbells and hundreds of pounds of bumper plates.
So I’m now that first-time sports radio caller. I’m not going to sit back and listen to the show anymore. My health is on the line. I’ve tried and failed too many times before with other work out plans and fad diets. They’re not sustainable. Turns out that the thing that works best is a willingness to work hard and be coachable. Best part is I’m doing it with folks just like me to struggle the same way I do. They too were once “first time callers, long time listeners” and one of the coolest things is they really enjoy living vicariously through people like me trying all this CrossFit stuff for the first time.
I’m no threat to Ben Smith’s title of 2015’s Fittest Man in the World. But I’m overcoming my fears and participating in this whole CrossFit thing. Even in 8 months, my emotional and physical transformation feels great. Can’t wait to watch the 2016 CrossFit Games so I can look back at my 20-month journey.