Jenni Middleton | Cape CrossFit Southern Suburbs
Name: Jenni Middleton | Age: 59 | Joined: October 2021 | Location: Cape CrossFit Southern Suburbs
I have been asked to share my reasons for joining CrossFit. I suspect it’s because I’m not seen as a likely candidate for it. In my head, I’m still 25 so it always amuses me that people are surprised that I do it. There’s an unspoken assumption that I should be doing more sedate things like bottling jam, baking cakes, knitting squares and restricting myself to Pilates and yoga just because I’m getting older? Hell no! Shoot me now!
I have never not played sport. When I was younger, I swam, played hockey, squash and tennis and later switched to running, cycling, mountain biking, open water swimming and doing triathlons, all with varying degrees of prowess. I’ve always tended towards the extremes of the sports – long distance running, technical mountain biking on difficult terrain, and the Half and Full Ironman.
I love the feeling of being fit, and never normally allow myself to become unfit. However, during lockdown I became unfit … and fat. Despite the initial enthusiasm, exercising via Zoom simply did not do it for me and I lost all motivation. It took me a long time to regain the fitness levels I expect for myself. I was running like a puffer train. During the same period, I escaped an unhealthy marriage. Double whammy! And because I desperately needed to do something bold and daring to reassert my independence, I signed up for CrossFit … because I could.
I may not have hung around for so long had the coaches been so encouraging. I’ve never been made to feel spare, especially as a beginner when I was pretty feeble at most things The scaling options within CrossFit make it possible for a beginner to take part in the same session as someone else who is extremely skilled, without feeling awkward. I am definitely progressing and that is a big motivating factor. At each session, I am aware that I am able to do a little more than I could at the previous time.
What I like about CrossFit is that it is varied – one day is never the same as the next one and you can pack a lot of exercise into a shorter space of time. I prefer the more relaxed grunge look-and-feel of the box to the prissiness of an ordinary gym where you’re just another lonely hamster on a treadmill. At CrossFit, everyone immediately gets down and dirty together on the big black mat and there is healthy camaraderie among people. I love watching the skilled athletes doing their thing. It’s poetry in motion. I currently feel still like an uncoordinated hephalump but watch this space.
My aim is to use the strength training and core conditioning that CrossFit provides to complement my running training. (I just need to get the balance right, between doing too little or too much of each one.)
In the past, runners simply pounded the tar, clocking up mega mileage. Now, at least, the proven benefits of weight-bearing exercise like CrossFit are acknowledged as helping build up bone density and muscle strength, improving balance, and reducing the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and even dementia. And, if you do it properly, it makes it possible to reduce the amount of time spent on the road and in the saddle, while still improving your overall performance.
So, in sum, I do CrossFit because I’m not yet dead.