An unapologetic athlete

I have a heart rhythm condition; it is now mostly controlled with a pacemaker. I also enjoy, thrive off of and am committed to Crossfiting. Participation in Crossfit makes me a better parent, therapist, and person. I am nearly impossible to live with --or be around when I do not go.  This should make a lot of sense given the insane amount of evidence that exercise is good for us.  I certainly feel better when I am in the box regularly.  No seriously type "exercise beneficial for " into google scholar and go ahead and absorb the crazy amount of information there is on the topic. People get degrees in this shit--although beyond doing more research I am unsure what they do with them. 

 People regularly question whether this is a safe choice for me. Doctors tell me to stop--although not my Docter. Coaches have scaled my workouts far below my ability out of fear or refused to let me practice some skills, and some boxes are flat out unwilling to allow me to workout with them. I find it odd that in a sport that idealizes adaptive athletics I would face these obstacles, but there is a disconnect between sharing a video applauding an athlete who has overcome medical odds to participate in their sport and having one in your gym.  I also realize there is a human visceral panic watching another human pass out cold, although as the person passing out thus the person most affected I have a hard time being sensitive to the feelings of those standing by. 


Almost two years ago, I was frustrated not finding a place to workout in I sent the following email a Crossfit Box. 

"Dear Crossfit--blank,

While doing a quick google search of Crossfit boxes near me, I came across your box that said "Crossfit for all!" And I thought, "hey, I'm part of 'all'!" You're website also says "is Crossfit right for you? The answer is a resounding YES!" I agree. Crossfit is right for me.

On subsequent searches for Crossfit for adaptive athletes and disabled athletes, your gym also came up as a top hit. I'm assuming that's a sign.

 I once drank the Crossfit Kool-Aid, and I am interested in giving you money to consume this Kool-Aid once again. See, I have a problem with minor bouts of unconsciousness, or as I like to think of it, taking a one-minute vacation into the future, and I am hoping to be accepted into your facility despite this minor abnormality. I have been cleared by a doctor to return to Crossfit.

Will you let me pay to join your cult?

Sincerely and seriously,

Grace Burnham" 

I am still in that box. Some things have changed since then, for one the aforementioned pacemaker which has significantly reduced the number of fainting episodes I have, although a pacemaker has a unique set of risks.  I have had more run ins with coaches who were uncomfortable working with me or who wanted clearance from a doctor to train with them; I no longer work with said coaches.  I have hired the owner of the box as a strength coach and have competitive ambitions I have not had before. I have found a home in this box. 

The biggest change is I have become unapologetic; I am not going to beg to spend hundreds of dollars each month to participate in, well anything.  I will not provide a doctor's note or otherwise release my medical information to make someone comfortable.  I am not asking for permission to live my life nor do I require it. 

To some that may some like I have become brazen or reckless, which is not true. I understand that life has risks and I accept them. I take risks specific to my condition and move on with my life. It also does not mean I don't take feedback; I heavily rely on feedback to work toward my goals. The difference is I will not be part of a power dynamic where I am asking for permission. I recognized my strength. As a result of this attitude, I get very little pushback in my athletic endeavors. 

If you have read this far, you may be asking what does this have to do with bodywork?  To start recognizing my strength better allows me to acknowledge the strength in my clients. Additionally, while it has always been difficult to phase me, I have a new recognition of others autonomy and an increased ability to let go and support people in their choices where they are.  The largest thing this has done for me in pointed out a need for coaches and trainers that can work with adaptive athletes or athletes with medical issues.  

Moreso this has affected my goals for the future has a Crossfit coach  I want to be able to empower the athletes I work with. I want to encourage people to look at the risks and benefits of whatever they want to do and then make their choice based on facts and not fear. I want to help athletes understand that even if their condition brings limitations that it usually does not mean giving everything up. I want to bring to awareness the adverse effect of the restrictions trainers and gyms place on athletes for lack of understanding, poor information or concerns about liability.   I would also like to work the medical community to help doctors use real fucking evidence-based information to give advice or place restrictions on exercise for their patients. Finally, I would like to help more athletes become unapologetic.