We were naked.
Doing thrusters and pull-ups.
On the beach.
Suddenly, she looked embarrassed. Not because she was naked. The nudity, she seemed cool with. She was embarrassed because she needed to scale the weight and do assisted pull-ups.
I’m talking about Rachel Forbes of CrossFit 604, an athlete who has become a staple at CrossFit throwdowns in the last couple years.
Rachel started her CrossFit career with me at CrossFit Vancouver. It took me a while to figure out that she wasn’t actually a cry baby; she was just one of the most determined athletes in the gym—an athlete who puts incredibly high expectations on herself. I’m sure these expectations of herself also translate to her career as a lawyer and now business-owner, and why she’s successful in life.
Although Rachel stands out for me as someone who puts insane pressure on herself, I do believe this trait is common in our CrossFit community. And when you’re the type of person who expects a lot, sometimes you forget to celebrate—or even notice—your gains along the way.
On more than a handful of occasions, I have had clients approach me and tell me they haven’t improved much. And then when we look at their numbers from their first day and realize they’ve gone from being able to do two pull-ups in a thick band, and now can do 20 pull-ups without any assistance, they look at me with a surprised look that says, “Wow, I guess I have improved.”
Rachel might not even remember that moment at the beach when we were rocking naked Fran on Wreck Beach with hard nipples in that brisk winter weather.
But I remember her apprehension. I think we scaled the weight to 55 lb., and this was still the heaviest thruster she had ever done in her life. And we definitely threw a band onto the bar for her to get through the pull-ups.
I also remember her apprehension when she decided to take the plunge and compete at the Nutts Cup two years ago.
That was the Rachel from two years ago.
Two days ago, at the Winter Challenge at the Richmond Olympic Oval, there was Rachel, confidently competing. She looked like she belonged. Because she did belong. She admitted it was the first time she wasn’t crippling nervous to compete.
There she was doing pull-ups again, only this time there was no band on the bar. Instead, she was rocking chest-to-bar pull-ups and lifting weight and throwing sandbags over her shoulder that would have crushed her three years ago. She is a different athlete, both emotionally and physically, than the Rachel who showed up three years ago.
Maybe she took the time last weekend to look back on the athlete was was and appreciate her gains. But maybe she didn’t.
Because sometimes, it’s hard to see your own progress. But it’s incredibly easy for others to see.