Breaking Through: My Journey from Excuses to Triumph in Crossfit Open WOD 24.1


When I joined Crossfit Petram last summer I had no idea what I was embarking on, let alone what the “Open” was. Crossfit was about as far out of my comfort zone as I could go. I didn’t know the first thing about it. What I knew was that it was intimidating. That I “couldn’t” do it. That I “wasn’t” fit enough. What I knew was the story I told myself based on what the fitness “world” has made exercise out to be. Fitness was truly for the elite. The top athletes. The one’s who spend endless hours at the gym. They eat, sleep, breath fitness. Fitness was defined by the notion you had to kill yourself at the gym through endless hours of cardio just to “loose” that weight while you ate carrots and lettuce restricting your calories until you no longer had self control and “failed” like you knew you would.


As I have continued to work on myself, work through the years of trauma that have distorted not only my view of the world but more importantly myself. I’ll be honest, when I hard the chatter of the “open” I quickly dismissed it. I saw the hype ramping up at the gym. All the athletes taking their photos, committing to this “elite” competition. For weeks, more photos showing up on the gym wall. More athletes making a commitment. Athletes committing to themselves. This was the secret. It wasn’t about the “open” and being a top athlete. It was about being part of a community where the most important aspect of the entire competitions was about showing up for yourself! It was a competition to build endurance, test your stamina, and push you to be better than you were the day before.


While I still didn’t understand what the “open” was my curiosity was starting to peek and I began asking questions as it got closer. Still unsure if I could “do this” and listening to the story of I am not an elite athlete I hit a turning point. See the “open” WOD (work out of the day) is released every Thursday for 3 weeks. The entire Crossfit community completing that workout on Friday. Here’s where the catch came in. If I was working out on Fridays, I was doing the “open” regardless… So I figured well if I am going to be here anyways I might as well see what it’s all about so I put my photo up on the wall and got assigned to Team Khalipa. I decided for 3 weeks I could commit to showing up for myself, trying something new and being part of the excitement.


Thursday, February 29th the official WOD for 24.1 was released for Friday. Two movements, dumbbell push press followed by burpees or in my case up / downs. Seemed simple enough right? Except it was anything but simple and had a time cap of 15 minutes to get through the entire work out…

20 dumbbell push press right arm

20 burpees over the dumbbell

20 dumbbell push press left arm

20 burpees over the dumbbell

15 dumbbell push press right arm

15 burpees over the dumbbell

15 dumbbell push press left arm

15 burpees over the dumbbell

9 dumbbell push press right arm

9  burpees over the dumbbell

9 dumbbell push press left arm

9 burpees over the dumbbell

If you finished the entire round in under 15 minutes you completed 176 reps… As I watched the coaches live feed preparing us for the workout the next day I could feel the excuses creeping in. I can’t do this. I hate burpee’s ( up / downs ). My elbow and wrist are going to hurt. I am just getting over pneumonia, I don’t have the stamina for this. 15 minutes is a long time. Wait.. someone is going to be judging me and watching me do this work out? I didn’t sign up for that. I don’t want anyone watching me. I just want to hide in the corner and go unnoticed. Is it too late to back out? Maybe I will just cancel my reservation for noon and not show… no one will notice right?

As I got in my car on Friday and headed to the gym I had plenty of thoughts including just bailing. This was a lot. I didn’t fully understand what I signed up for. It’s not too late. But here’s the thing NONE of that was true. It was the convenient and comfortable excuses I had learned to make for myself because for as long as I could remember my parents, who I trusted the most, were the ones always telling me “I was never good enough”  “I was a failure”  “I was fat” “I was a disappointment” and for a long time I believed that truth.

As I walked through the gym my anxiety was peaking as the “nooners” were all amping each other up and talking about the sucky workout that awaited each and every one of us. As we paired up my teammate Neeka came up to me and asked to be my partner. I had admired her strength and beauty over the weeks as I acclimated to noon. I was a little intimidated having her judge me. I opted to go first simply because I knew I needed to get this over with before I overthink it anymore.

5.. 4.. 3.. 2.. 1.. GO!

It’s easy to get inside your head as you start. 20 dumbbell push presses, how hard could that be. On to Up / down .. Up / down .. Up / down.. I am pretty sure I am at 17 by now what do you mean I am only at 5!! You clearly messed up counting somehow judge. First set of 20 done. On to push press, I got this. UGH.. back to up / downs… This sucks! Why did I sign up for this. I hate this work out. Up / down .. Up / down… "Come on Shannon you got this, one more keep going!” That was Neeka cheering me on. Finally the first set of 20 was done on to 15’s. What I didn’t expect was Neeka to begin coaching me to just breathe. Take a breath. You got plenty of time. You are almost half way through! You are doing awesome! Made it through 15’s and on to the home stretch of 9’s. The clock was winding down and all I had to do was keep moving until the buzzer. 60 seconds left athletes! Athletes? Wait thats me!!! I am an athlete. I am a Crossfit Athlete. I can do anything for 60 seconds.. just keep going.


5.. 4.. 3.. 2.. 1.. DONE!!!!


I made it into my second round of 9’s. The irony of that moment was finishing with the thing I hated the most, up / downs! It was a long 15 minutes. It was hard. I wanted to throw up. I wanted to give up. But I also wanted to finish what I started because I could. This was about me.  This was my journey to healing. This was about my ability to show up for myself for 15 minutes. This was about a community of individuals who are truly no different than I, each with their own story and their own why for showing up. For some there is hype and excitement in the competition side. For others there is the excitement of being part of the weekly challenges or giving back and community. For others like myself, it was about trying something new and simply showing up because I made that commitment to myself and honestly to my team. They were counting on me to just show up even if I wasn’t “the best” I was doing MY best and at the end of the day that was all that mattered.


I walked out of the gym stronger than I walked in. I walked out proud of myself for stepping outside my comfort zone and trying something new. I walked out realizing this truly wasn’t about how athletic I was or wasn’t because not a single person in that gym cared. Which is something I am slowly learning each class. The coaches are truly there for your best interest and to work with you, encourage you and help you navigate limitations that would have otherwise been easy excuses not to do something. The truth is every single person in that gym was there to support each other. There is something to be said about being part of a community that is unlike any other. It slowly begins to break down the walls you cemented up and reinforced. It exposes the lies and shines a light on what “fitness” is really about. It’s about you. It’s about your journey. It’s about taking time for self. It’s about showing up when you think no ones watching or know everyone’s watching. It’s about being part of a family that see’s your strength even when you don’t. This is what I took away from my first Crossfit Open WOD 24.1.