Baby Beast: a day in the life

“Today is the best day” that’s what I said when I was in the third or fourth of five total rounds in the WOD. I was sweating through twenty-one power cleans and smiling because Bad was playing in the background. It’s always an honor to come in and put in the work because many people do not have the privilege to show up and sweat. Realistically, I should be part of the group who doesn’t show up, having a disability is something that makes nothing easy but when nothing is easy, you get used to everything being hard and if you know what’s good for you; you learn to accept the challenge. I get to do Crossfit. I get to show up and sweat. I get to hate the pain and lose my breath at the worst moments. I get to train with the best coaches in the land. It’s an honor to be an Adaptive Athlete when I know the odds are against me. Crossfit and Cerebral Palsy don’t mix but I’ve never really been one to go with what’s ‘supposed to be’ anyway.

having a disability is something that makes nothing easy but when nothing is easy, you get used to everything being hard and if you know what’s good for you; you learn to accept the challenge.-Genevieve Rose

Yesterday I got to run in the warmup, not back and forth in the box like I usually do, outside on the pavement. I strongly dislike running but I was happy to do it because I know it’s a weakness and I want to strengthen it. I came back inside, already sweating, which always makes me nervous because sweating in the warmup is pregame for all the pain that is coming.

“Jena, this is for you,” my coach said, before playing the most recognizable baseline in music history through the speaker. “Don’t say I don’t do anything for you.”

“Never did!” I said, more excited to stretch now that Billie Jean was on. The rest of the warmup was a mix of light weight bent-over rows mixed with banded bent-over rows and holds. It’s tiring after a few rounds but I like stuff like that because I like working my arms. The music is lower during the warmup than it is in the WOD. Honestly, sometimes the warmups are so hard that the volume of the music is the only way I know if we’re doing the actual workout. I heard the beat of Black or White playing just loud enough to make me smile. “You gonna turn that up?” I asked

“Nope.” That’s okay, it’s not like Black or White almost ended racism when it came out in 1991 or anything.


(5 RFT)

10cal ski erg

(in place of running-I’ll be running in the WODs soon I’m sure)

21 power cleans

12 pull-ups

2min rest

Kidsfit had happened right before I arrived which looked like the most fun ever because there were those plastic colorful balls you see in giant pits that you can jump into. I have no idea what the kids were doing but I wanted to do it too.

They were playing Hungry Hippos!

They were playing Hungry Hippos!

A group of tiny humans were still hanging around waiting for their parents to finish getting buff and stuff. I thought for sure one of them would run into me mid-WOD and I’d fall over. I love children but they move so fast it makes me nervous. In the rounds, I’d get off the ski erg and then have to look both ways as if I’m crossing the street because the tiny humans would sometimes run back and forth and the wall that the machine was on blocked my view. Ironically, I did fall but it was no one’s fault but my own. I was winded and my legs were tired for some reason and I tripped over my own feet while Beat It was playing. How ironic that I would trip myself to the music of the man who moved his feet better than anyone. It would’ve been perfectly ironic had the song been Why You Wanna Trip On Me? I was glad that I hit the floor and not the barbell that was close by. The downside was that the fall cost me around forty seconds of added time because now I had to get up.

“What happened?” My coach asked, extending a hand when I was halfway to my feet. She’s tough but she loves me.

“I don’t know,” I said, hurrying to the bench I stood over during power cleans. It keeps my knees apart and it’s there in case I lose my balance. I had already done so and only skinned an elbow. In a weird way, it was nice to fall because it wasn’t that bad. It’s like the fact that it really happened eased my fear. In my head, I counted down from twenty-one but out loud, I was singing the chorus to Bad. This may be why I lose my breath a lot, I always want to sing and if I don’t sing it out loud I always mouth the words. It’s a habit. I was too excited, three Michael Jackson songs had come on during this WOD. It almost made me forget how badly my arms were burning, almost. The group of kids sat to my left all in a straight line on a bench, like a huddle of curious bluebirds on a branch watching me sing and sweat. At some point during the arduous power cleans my coach came around with her phone out and I always push a little harder when there’s a camera on. Only a few more rounds. It wasn’t the worst because of the required two-minute rest after each round. Just get through the pull-ups and then rest. I angled myself beneath the bar, my feet still touching the floor as I pulled my chin up and over using my back as much as possible. One day my feet will be off the floor but for now, it’s about doing the best modified pull-ups in the world. Once upon a time, I started the same way with modified push-ups.

Thirty minutes and thirty-four seconds later, I was done but the sweating wasn’t over yet because I thought today, I would put all my equipment away. Some days I do, some days I have help, it’s another weakness I’m developing into a strength. Working my balance just to carry things around is infinitely harder than Crossfit itself. I leaned over the bench and stretched my calves on the end of it as I caught my breath.

Life is in fact, is a balancing act. Metaphorically and literally when you have a disability. First, I took the weights from the barbell and put them back on the rack then, I returned to my spot and got the clamps and put those away. Everything is step-by-step and usually requires more patience than I have. Most times I think I could move faster but fear makes me hesitant. When it was time to carry the barbell across the room and place it in its standing position my coach was kind enough to help me with that. Like I said, it’s all about balance. I can hold a lot of weight but carrying it is a whole different story. I held the bar with both hands, while she had one hand on it too and then literally took it one step at a time. “Use the weight to your advantage,” she said. I tried to but I didn’t trust myself and then I lost my footing, got scared and grabbed my coach so I didn’t fall. Thank God we don’t have to tackle the hard things in life alone. We made it. She propped it upright in the rack and when I turned around my fingers skimmed her shorts. “Did you just touch my butt?”

“Little bit,” I said. Carrying the barbell made me sweatier than anything else I had done. It helped that a fifth Michael Jackson song was playing during the process and continued as I went to take down the pull-up bar.

“Don’t knock yourself out with this,” she said, dismantling it herself. I was relieved she did because I might have, I was fatigued.

“I’ll carry the clip!” I announced, knowing it wasn’t necessary to separately carry what was basically a giant paper clip. I did shove the bench across the room to its designated spot. Slowly. My arms burned and those benches seem to get heavier every day. I took a seat with Teva my Service Dog next to me and we listened to the very end of Vincent Price’s haunting laugh. Ironically, the song that is also the title of the bestselling album of all time, is the one I listen to the least. It just reminds me of Halloween. I don’t like Halloween. I was tired but so happy. Happy that I got to sweat and suffer under the serenade of the world’s greatest entertainer. Happy I’d seen all those kids so happy when I had first arrived. Happy that I had finished the WOD and then put all my stuff away. Happy that I fell and it wasn’t that scary. Happy that I get to workout in a place like this with people that push me to be the best I can be. Just so very happy and so very blessed.

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