wall balls. part 2.

Everyone has that one exercise that one step above hard for them. In CrossFit terminology it’s called your “goat.” Mine? Wall balls. It’s a pretty simple movement.

It’s usually done in high reps and wears out everything in your body. The first workout I ever did had wall balls in it. I was on my back in a pool of sweat after 6 minutes. I hadn’t had that kind of a workout in years.

When I committed and returned for more workouts in the next month, the wall balls kept showing up. I was learning more power and Olympic barbell lifts and doing more calisthenics in the mean time. In the beginning, wall balls were an integral part of the programming our owner and coach designed. Over time when members became more comfortable with more compound movements, the workouts began to evolve. Wall balls were more intermittent, but I still didn’t like them that much. 20-pound medicine ball throws thrashed me. They still do.

Faith in Christ is a relationship. Relationships, whether they be romantic or not, require dedication, effort, and a willingness to endure the less-than-ideal times.

If you want to become a better person of faith, you need to be willing to adjust your lifestyle. You begin to develop new habits and/or drop old ones in that process, because you want to be taken seriously. More than that, you do it out of obedience to God. Though the routines are sometimes broken, not always followed through, and in need of refining, it’s the effort. You might not follow through on prayer or read your Bible on a day to day basis, but when we discipline ourselves to throw ourselves into those rituals, they begin to have much more intrinsic value. It transcends doing it out of routine and it becomes something you enjoy and want to do.

CrossFit caused my lifestyle to change. I eat better, sleep more, and have never been stronger or in better shape. I’ve also seen a lot of mental health benefits. Any health professional could tell you that even mild to moderate exercise has the ability to alleviate mild depression and anxiety. I feel much more of an even keel when I frequently exercise. I go when I’m tired, not at 100 percent, or frustrated. It’s gratifying when I want to pass out from a long workout – it feels like I did something with my day when the endorphins rage. It makes me want to go back. It also challenges me to go back and push heavier weight, have a straighter pull on barbell lifts, and get stronger. It’s a pervasive strive for improvement. When I began to think about the effort I have to put into my workouts, the more I thought about how I have to put in the same efforts into my faith. It’s a need for improvement to be more dedicated to prayer, in scripture, and know God better. I saw the value in seeing spirituality as a discipline. I find something new and exciting about diving into Biblical text and trying to improve my prayer life. It all begins to translate with how I take on life, the attitude I have towards people, how I approach God, and how He sees me. That feeling of emotional stability that exercise provides has given me a clearer set of eyes in my head and more equilibrium in my spiritual life. When I didn’t exercise all last semester I was more high strung than a chipmunk super saiyan charged with Red Bull. Christ was one of the last things on my mind when I was stressing so hard.

I will now pull the curtain back and state the obvious… life can suck.

Ecclesiastes, Proverbs, Lamentations, and even Romans are all laced with God breathed truth about the frailty of human consciousness and how we will have hard days.

The challenge is how we decide to tackle those tough days. I’m not suggesting that we ignore reality and live ebulliently as if life doesn’t happen. What I’m saying is that we need to be willing to take our licks, learn from them, be bummed out about it for a minute, and move on.

I have to approach wall balls the same way. The way through Christ does not mean life gets easier. There will be days where grades are sub par, cars break down, friendships are on the rocks, an things don’t go my way. There will still be wall balls in the workouts. The difference is that instead of skipping the workout because of the wall balls, I take it with confidence knowing that during, it may suck, but at the end, it will be worth it. It makes me a stronger more well rounded CrossFitter. It’s in the same way that accepting the hard days and walking through them will make us all more conditioned and stronger Christ followers.

My challenge for us all is to live out Philippians 3:12-14 and press on when life takes a left turn towards a cliff.

Approach life’s natural strife and off days with the conviction of Romans 5:3-4 and understand that perseverance holds the key.

Remember that Ecclesiastes 7:1-5 says there are days where we will sing the blues.

In all of it, hold close that in all of this there is an ultimate contentment and sustaining peace in Christ.

wall balls. part 1.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about hobbies and how I spend my time. Over the course of someone’s lifetime, the choice in activities will more than likely change because of maturity levels, friends your around, the city you move to, and life changing events.

When I transferred to Winona State, everything about my routine changed. I up rooted and planted myself under a new roof, with unfamiliar people, and a frenetic schedule (at first). When I changed my major and dropped eight credits worth of major courses, I needed a way to kill time. In addition to getting more involved in the ministries down here, I started exercising again.

When candidly interviewing Whitechapel’s drummer on tour, Phil DuBois of Revocation referenced a common joke on the Internet about CrossFit… “It’s like the opposite of fight club, and the first rule is that you never shut up [amended] about CrossFit.” Yeah. He’s pretty much right. I know, because I do CrossFit and it’s hard to abstain from talking about it.

I started when I was browsing our University Club page, looking to alleviate boredom. I found the CrossFit club, went to their gym in town, introduced myself, and was immediately hooked after one workout! I found (and still find) something so appealing about the intensity, fast pace, and integration of multiple methods of fitness. After a year and a half of participating, I began to see a lot of parallels that made it so much more meaningful to me.

One of the shots that CrossFit gets is that it exudes a cult-like vibe. I think this is often misconstrued for community – people bonding shoulder to shoulder. Through that comes something more than workout buddies. They’re people that you see most days of the week who push you to become better. There’s a prolific bond in that. It’s also a lifestyle.

If you look at the elites in this sport – Rich Froning, Mat Fraser, Jason Khalipa, Camille Leblanc-Bazinet etc. these are people who eat, breathe, sleep, and live CrossFit. They train multiple hours a day, own their own gyms, and are saturated in the life. It’s their center. Most of us don’t have that luxury, so we make exercise part of a multi-faceted routine. It’s part of my routine, because it keeps me healthy and sane. Exercise is one of those activities where I can leave frustrations at the door and escape for an hour and a half. I can clear my head and sweat it out before I face it.

The more consistently I began to go, I felt better in a holistic sense, but I also began to see this as a spiritual discipline. I began to see a lot of dots connected, parallels drawn, and similarities between being a Christian and CrossFitter. It’s led me to this ultimate conclusion…

Following Christ is like doing wall balls…