It feels like it has been raining non-stop in Seattle. Seriously, this year, we’re not the Rainy City, we are the gray, wet, and cold to the bone city. I’m tired of being muddy, tired of being wet, tired of winter boots and sweaters, and if another snow day is called, I’m going to pull out my hair. Earlier this week it was raining (again) and I wanted to get out and do something active with my son other than Elevated Sports, our trusted rainy day go-to. So, we tried CrossFit (a first time for both of us).

When I woke up the next day, I was so sore that it hurt to move. I will be 44 next month and lets just say that all day, I mumbled WTF under my breath multiple times. Mostly, when I had to walk anywhere and my legs felt mad at me, asking me why I would torture them like this. My body felt like I was doing three-a-day practices again in college prepping for competition.

Now, I’m in pretty good shape. I could do all the moves asked of me during the CrossFit session except stand on my head while doing a pushup. I even busted out a couple of pull-ups. It was fun. I had fun watching and working out with my son. Also, I absolutely get why people love it. The high-fives, the group activity, the onsite encouragement, feeling strong, etc. I definitely liked it more than going to a traditional gym.

But, I’m just not into suffering through my daily workouts. Don’t get me wrong, I love to go on a long bike ride and push myself. I also push myself very hard in my Excy workouts. But, in my day-to-day life of wanting more physical activity, I just want to exercise enough to be healthy, prevent injuries, get a better night’s sleep, have more energy to play with my son, be productive at work, and fit in my clothes. Also, I want to be over quickly.

When it comes down to it, you have to do what works for you. There are so many different opinions and lots of variation as to what workouts people should and shouldn’t do. All these opinions are just that…opinions. No one else lives your exact life, knows the history of your injuries, understands the nature of your relationships, feels the potential pain of a disease you might be living with, knows your desire to remain competitive, etc.

For me, at the end of the CrossFit workout out, I looked down at my Apple Watch and I had burned 427 calories during the hour workout with an average heart rate of 119. In total, it took me 10 minutes to drive to the gym, 1 hour to do the workout, and 10 minutes to get home. I don’t have an hour and 20 minutes to spare. It didn’t feel completely productive for me in terms of trying to burn the most calories and strength train in the shortest amount of time possible. I don’t need to lift a bar over my head to be more productive at work. I don’t need to throw a 20-pound ball above my head to have more energy to play with my kid. I sure as heck don’t want to push myself that hard to be healthy in middle age in and into my senior years and didn’t like the high impact nature of some of the moves on my joints. But, for some people, they do and their inspiration is to be celebrated and their goals supported. I met a man in his 60s who had a goal of climbing Mt. Rainier. He used CrossFit to build his endurance. That’s amazing. I met a mom in her 50s who I could tell hated her workouts, but she likes how she feels after CrossFit. My son liked it too, so I would go back for him, but him alone (I am much more into pure speed and agility training for him at age 11).

I sent a note to a friend who religiously does CrossFit and asked if she is sore after her workouts and her response…“I’m always sore.” Another friend, “I’m never sore.”

I have lived the days of no pain, no gain in training for competition. The only competition I am training for now, is life and that’s hard enough sometimes. I don’t like to suffer in my physical activity for health and I don’t like to always be sore. I workout hard on Excy 5-6 days a week for 20 minutes and focus on burning the most calories and strength training in the shortest amount of time possible. I use the Excy mobile coaching app to keep me on track between intervals. Most of my workouts are in the evening after a long day of work, running my son around to practices, helping him with homework, and figuring out what the heck we are going to have for dinner. I also do short burst of high resistance training on Excy for 1-2 minutes a couple times a day. This works for me and my schedule, plus I’ve been able to lose nearly 25 pounds and keep the weight off for two years. I have never been as sore from doing Excy as CrossFit and in fact, have rarely been sore at all. My own routine isn’t for everyone who owns an Excy. Some people use Excy for range of motion, for rehab, for light activity and not for high intensity training at all. Just as CrossFit isn’t for everyone, neither is Excy.

If you want to see me get fired up, try telling me there’s a cookie cut approach for everyone. There isn’t and if someone says there is, they are full of crap! If we all focus on being each others cheerleader vs. critics, perhaps more people would exercise for fun and to prevent disease. At the end of the day, do what you love. Do what inspires you. But, do something that you are willing and able to do to move more vs. less. Then, tell your critics to zip it!

–Michele Mehl

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