Part of the philosophy of CrossFit, where I am doing a one-month boot camp with two of my friends, is to foster a healthy sense of team. My first day, I saw with a sinking heart what this was going to look like. The instructors came close as we were working through our workouts of the day, and yelled things like, "You're doing great! What number are you on?" so they could count with us through our final reps.
Oh, heck no.
When the first girl in my team approached me to yell at me a bit and ask what number I was on, I told her nicely through my gritted I'm-trying-to-do-a-pushup teeth that I preferred just to count on my own, thank you.
The next class a different team mate approached me mid-squat and yelled a bit and asked me what number I was on. A small chorus of my new allies responded that I preferred to count on my own, and that I preferred working without the cheering. Great! The news was spreading.
As we finished our workout for the day and headed off around the complex to run a lap, one of my teammates sidled up to me and asked, "Do you really not like the cheering?! You don't want us to cheer for you?" I knew this wasn't going over well. I felt like I had just announced my strong dislike of kittens, or worse, abandoned kittens. I had to come up with a way of explaining how I felt to this super strong girl who biked to class, was always one of the first to finish, and usually beat most of the guys.
Finally, it came to me. "Have you ever given birth?" I asked her. My question caught her off guard. "No..." she responded, "Have you?". "Yes" I said, "And I think giving birth is the best way I can describe why I need space when I am doing my workouts. In childbirth, as labor progresses and the work becomes physically more difficult, women tend to turn inward and focus on accomplishing the feat before them. It is a time when outside voices become distracting. I think that's how I feel when I am doing one of our workouts. I am so out of shape that I require my greatest concentration to finish, and so I do better on my own, plodding along at my own pace."
And someday, I think I will be as strong as she is, and the cheering will probably be just what it takes to help me launch through the end of the workout. But I'm not quite there yet. With workouts that include racing yourself through flipping a monster tire 5 times, doing 50 standing squats, then 50 push ups, then 50 sit ups, then 50 walking lunges, and then flipping the tire 5 more times, I am very much still in child-birth phase.
This getting buff business is just slow work.