Pam Peters does Burpees in Public
“Oh yeah, I looked a little foolish.” Pam filled me in on her recent visit to a resort gym in Mexico. “I’m sure people looked at me like I was crazy. There was one guy there and I asked if I could borrow his weights. I think he looked at me like, ‘There is no way she can lift that up.’ And then I did it!”
That guy was surprised, but probably not half as much as 5-years-ago-Pam would have been that Present-Day-Pam was working out on her vacation.
Pam and I are in the 8AM “Mom’s class” (as it has come to be known) together. I’m one of the few token dads in the class, and Pam is among the awesome women who are some of the most persistent and committed members of the community.
Three years ago, Pam started training with a trainer at a local gym a few times per week and stopped drinking pop, but she didn’t see a lot of results.
“I was kind of one of those yo-yo people, [on again and off again]. It helped me, but nothing like [CrossFit] does now. It takes more dedication; it’s tougher.”
Pam is one of the founding members of the Arsenal, and she still remembers her first workout–Karen (150 wall balls).
“I thought I was going to die. I couldn’t finish it.” And she didn’t come close to finishing it under the time cap. In fact, not a single rep may have counted because she couldn’t get into a full squat on her wall balls. But recently she completed Karen well under the time cap.
Pam can see how much she has changed in her weights and her times, but she sees it many other places, too. Pam is among the members who have changed the most.
“I have a lot more energy and a lot more confidence.”
“I’ll be brushing my hair in the mirror and I’ll be like, ‘I’ve got guns now!’”
“I don’t have the wave going under my arms any longer.”
“I can see the bones in my shoulders.”
“Now I have real estate between my legs.”
So that last one . . .
Bro Tip: As a token dad of the 8AM Mom’s class, I recommend not saying that as a way to compliment a woman on her physique. You should use words like “fit” and “strong” but not “between” or any “real estate” lingo at all for that matter especially when referring to anything above the knees and below the shoulders.
A Bit on Looking Better
Pam is stronger, and Pam is fitter. And it shows. But appearance is something that we often don’t discuss. As if noticing the muscles in our arms, or a thinner waist, and being proud of how months and months of work show on our bodies is shallow. If that’s the case, then I’m guilty.
I have a confession: I touch myself.
Okay, that needs some context. When I’m alone in my office (stick with me; the context is coming) I’ll give my legs and arms a little squeeze to check their progress. When I walk, I’ll poke at my abs to see how close they are from fully emerging from an ever-thinning layer of milkshake belly blubber.
I remember specific moments in the gym where someone complimented me on my triceps during a crabwalk and my abs during handstand pushups. That made me feel both swell and swole.
Yes, CrossFit builds community, confidence, and strength; it makes us feel better, but it also builds muscle, burns fat, and makes us look stronger and fitter. When we look and feel stronger and fitter we interact with the world differently and the world interacts with us differently.
There isn’t a single mirror in the Arsenal because appearance isn’t why we workout. But appearance is no inconsequential byproduct. Appearance drives many of us to work out and it validates our hard work.
Three years ago, Pam looked at herself and envisioned that she could be a fitter and thinner Pam. She had dyed-blond hair and a fear of swimsuits.
“I noticed I was getting larger. I was a size 16, and decided I needed to do something.”
Pam wanted to change.
This past November Pam made a new goal: Wear a bikini to the Crash My Playa concert in Mexico.
“At Thanksgiving, I decided I wanted to look good in my bathing suit.”
Pam and her best friend go to more concerts than anyone I know. I asked her how many they had attended.
“I plead the fifth! Everybody has a hobby. I don’t buy expensive jewelry. I go to concerts. There are some bands that we get to know. I’ve seen Parmalee 16 times. They remember our names. It’s fun. We enjoy the music. I can let myself go. It’s something that I do that I can enjoy. We dance. We laugh. We sing. It’s a great stress reliever.”
But working out four days per week and eating like she always ate wasn’t getting her to where she wanted to be for the concert.
“I had kind of plateaued, but changing my diet really flipped the switch. I was always that person who thought I’m working out so I can eat whatever I want to eat. And I realized that I wasn’t going to see any dramatic changes until I ate better.”
“I haven’t had a french fry for . . . I can’t remember how long . . . I don’t eat sweets. Not anymore. I stopped eating those before Thanksgiving. I stopped eating fried food.”
“Now I can get into a size 8 and 6. I don’t think I’ve ever been that size my entire life. I think I skipped them in high school and middle school.”
When she wasn’t working out in the resort gym fighting from critiquing the squat form of others, or dancing at the concerts, she rocked her bikini.
Oh, and in the process of working out more and eating better she also completed her first rope climb and pull up.
“My whole body has changed dramatically. Totally. I’ve changed physically and emotionally. My whole personality has changed because I feel better about myself. I feel a lot more comfortable with myself. I’m really happy with where I am right now. I’m comfortable in a bathing suit. Years ago I would’ve been wrapping something around me as quick as I could, but now I’m like, ‘I have muscles! I don’t care!.’”
“I’ve earned my muscles. I’ve earned them HARD!”