“Age ain’t Nothen but a Number…”

The next installment in our “Strong is Beautiful Edition” comes from our very own Joey McCune. If you don’t know Joey, you should. She squats 285, deadlifts 365, and has climbed more mountains than I can name. She is one SEXY beast… – Z

And here we go…

Strong is the new Sexy.

For me, a recent confidence boost has coincided with an amazing realization that my body is powerful. I joined my neighborhood CrossFit gym and in doing so boosted my strength and confidence. Strong is sexy.

At the ripe 40-year mark, I’ve noticed a slight change in plans.

Call me crazy but it might have something to do with this unspoken elephant in the room named, “aging”. These days, no matter how much I work out, I can’t seem to get results. When I say results, I mean “bounce-a-quarter-off-my-ass like when I was 25”, results. So, after years of competitive distance running, triathlons, followed by high altitude off-piste skiing, rock climbing and international summit bids, I was bored, tired, and needed something new (and local). Going to Gold’s Gym, 24-hour fitness, or Curves wasn’t going to cut it for an adventure girl like me.

I decided to try out a local cult following called “CrossFit”.

Now an athlete that scales some of the world’s largest peaks is naturally a mental hard ass anyway. There’s a pretty high level of mental toughness and ability to deal with pain to push through a 4 week, successful summit bid with little oxygen. Being mentally strong is not something I generally questioned about myself.

So, I walked into my local gym, with an “I’ll probably be bored in no time” attitude, and thought to myself, I’ve been running up mountains with back packs on for fun- how hard could this really be?Moreover, “How fun could this really be?”

Boy was I mistaken. I am a hard nut to crack when it comes to mental endurance: My first 3 weeks, I must confess, I wondered if I would be taken out via body bag. I mean, Zach the head trainer looks like he eats dump trucks for breakfast, how the hell would I survive? Not to mention, most of the gym averaged 15 years my junior, leaving my aged ego checked at the door.

My strong will and competitive edge took over. Years of being a varsity athlete, followed by years of “not being” a varsity athlete, drove my inspiration and peaked my interest to persevere. I realized how much I had missed a competitive, team environment.

Suitably inspired, I got to work. Dragging into the gym, one tired, old-lady body part at a time.

Skill and technique are critical to CF success and I was guided through each step, ensuring I was moving properly and not risking injury.

(from which my husband, after witnessing me limp home like a cripple, groaning from basic movement involving core muscles and crying for help from burning quads while trapped on the toilet: had real, valid concern “There’s only so much arnica in the house, honey.”)

Each WOD (work out of the day) involves a high level of intensity and efficiency guaranteed to bring even the most elite athletes to their knees. It’s ever-changing, keeping muscles confused. It sucks. We read a daily blog and are surprised each day with what hell we are walking into.

I read once, “It’s CrossFit, not “alltheshityoulikefit”. It’s hard. It’s supposed to be. That’s why we’re there. And that pretty much sums it up.

… I was quickly turned into a whimpering, complaining baby, crawling across the mat floor, begging for a hot Epsom salt relief, and an after-party at Banya 5 bathhouse, followed by a martini.

But I began to notice a shift. After each session, my retired metabolic memory started to fine-tune itself. My hands grew calluses the size of dimes, my shins were proudly displaying bruises and my collarbone was scabbed.

Without realizing, I had evolved into a crossfitter.

The sinews and muscles of my body strengthened and my energy and endurance rose to the challenge.

Thus so did my confidence.

Hence my enthusiastic jump onto the CrossFit bandwagon.

It’s been a year and a half. My body has toned, my posture improved, my strength has quadrupled.  Ok- so my weight is not where it needs to be but inches count and damn-it, I’m an almost 40 year old Italian with two teenagers! I like my wine and and my mama’s homemade spaghetti (no matter how un-paleo that is!)

Although my push-ups and pull-ups remain ugly (I blame it on my breeding; voluptuous Italian genes causing a busty, heavy, upper half, weakening my true capabilities) … my overall ability to hold up a VW bug, (just kidding) has impressed many, including myself, and I’ve grown a new kind of confidence I dare say, I did not see coming. Cross Fit has taken my natural strengths and provided memory to my once varsity athlete muscles.  A special kind of pride has slipped into my step knowing that even the “aged” can benefit. I walk into each WOD and know that today: I survive pain for time.

And that’s just plain cool.

This past summer I competed in a CrossFit event. It was an epic and memorable day for me. Not only did my 16 year old daughter compete with me, but our planned 4 rounds of competition turned into 5 with a last minute tie-breaker WOD. It was hot. I felt old. I was dog-tired, and I brought what I had.

On the fourth WOD, (thinking it was the last one) I looked at my daughter (because mom’s have to teach life lessons, right?) and said, “I am just going to finish this.” I was worried she would be disappointed in seeing me come in last. I honestly couldn’t fathom digging any deeper but I didn’t want her to see me quit. At that moment, even finishing seemed impossible. I drew upon my confidence, because God knows I didn’t have any energy to draw upon, …and finished. Not only did I finish, but, I won that WOD. The look on my daughters face was a look I will never forget. It was a proud moment. It taught my daughter about confidence, believing in yourself, and pushing yourself past your limits. The day ended with a tie-breaker and an exhausting final WOD. I ended up in 3rd place. Not bad for an old mom.

My daughter said, “You’re still a varsity athlete to me”.

I smiled.

More importantly, my confidence smiled.

I may not be able to bounce that quarter off my ass like the old days. And, half the time, I want to cheat during push-ups, because they hurt and suck as my weakness bleeds out of me.  And I HATE V-sits. My body just wants to collapse on the mat, arms and legs splayed open like a turtle on its back. But I don’t.

Because that’s not what CrossFit is about. And, what I have gained from CF, is confidence. However we choose to apply it, confidence is strength. And strength is beautiful. So, even though I’m not the “perfect 10” at 40, I have pride knowing my body is strong as hell and THAT just plain feels amazing.

With my boredom factor at zero and my challenge factor of, well, infinite. CrossFit has been my sanity saving grace. Good people, good times. Solidarity. No machines. No mirrors. No egos—because we check those at the door.

CrossFit is the challenge I love to hate. I do love the results.  The big test will come the day I master the dreaded clapping push-up (for show-off’s), and the (bastard) kipping pull up (for non-Italian girls with tiny boobs).

…Oh yeah, and when I can bounce a quarter off of my ass.

Until then: Run. Jump. Lift. Puke. Repeat for time.

Being strong rules.

Strong is the new Sexy.

Posted by: Joey McCune

6 Responses to ““Age ain’t Nothen but a Number…””

  1. Beautiful article Joey! Z had forwarded this to me and as I was reading I started tearing up, ok maybe I’m just the emotional type, but it was definitely inspiring, it is awesome to hear other people’s stories and know that becoming stronger has had just as much, if not more, of an impact on on their lives! 🙂

  2. Great article Miss. You are an inspiration to many of us.

  3. I met Joey before my time at my current gym. She was funny, loud, and talked A LOT. When I left there and came to where I coach now I couldn’t believe it when she walked in the door.

    We had a loud and fast conversation. It was kind of like when you see people in the cartoons get sucked into those fights that look like toronados. Joey came to a class that was pretty much just her. I’d look at what I had planned for the day then just ask her, “Joey that sucks you just wanna lift?”

    She always did, I still remeber her first total. She walked up and pulled 285 off the floor and looked at me and said, “You want me to do this?”
    It was awesome.

    Joey always lifts what I asks. Or at least tries. She’s an amazing role model for her kids, other women and young girls. Strong is Beautiful, Joey knows that she embraces it. It makes her a real joy to train and call a friend. Thank you for choosing me to be your Coach and thank you for the article. – Z

  4. Wow Joey, Inspirational!
    GREAT article thanks for sharing.
    I want a t-shirt with,
    “It’s CrossFit, not “alltheshityoulikefit”.

  5. Rob Martin Says:

    Awesome testimoniale Joey…..Strong Lady…..Strong Family…..Strong Life.
    I love to hear and see how you have included your daughter and now son in your CrossFit lifestyle. Thank you!

  6. Joey, Joey, Joey….
    You know that my respect for you is great….& my love for you is even greater.
    You have been such an inspiration to me since the day that I recognized you at our first Total (with a different hair color!!!, but still the same beautiful face).
    Believe me… I will build my muscles back up so that I can continue to chase you…although you, my dear, have taken off like a rocket!
    Thanks for sharing….I’m honored to call you my friend. 🙂

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