I was an athlete growing up – team sports mostly and I liked playing basketball and rugby. I was kinda good. It was kinda fun. But there was always crap that I didn’t care for. Drama with parents and coaches (like jfc), travel with rugby, competitions for positions — it’s like I wanted to get better for me but it always turned into a competition with a teammate. So I ran sprints because I wanted to play rugby in an actual game and to do that I had to beat out the people I played with.
I noticed that I was focusing on beating my teammate instead of making myself better for myself. (I also don’t like getting in physical altercations with people, which happened more than I’d like in rugby.)
So I took up a solo sport – marathon running (omg right?) and that was fine except it hurt. Like a lot. And I liked it ok but even when I had a running group, I’d inevitably end up alone…or at least like running alone next to someone but unable to converse because we were on mile 17 and like so so tired.
And the thing that was happening over all these years since I was basically 11 was I was dealing with an often-debilitating pain and inflammatory disease that you likely have never heard of. The last 20 years went like this: it might be bone cancer, you’re probably gonna die, just kidding, you’re fine, this disease will get better, why isn’t it getting better?, oh sometimes we guess it doesn’t get better, here try this medicine, here try this medicine, no we won’t refer you to Mayo even though we can’t help you, oh litigation? Fine take your records and this referral to Mayo, here try this intense medicine…at least this one won’t kill your liver, your symptoms have been reduced to minimal? Sweet keep taking this medicine.
The main symptom? Bone pain and swollen joint as a result of non-specific inflammation. Needless to say, I have a complicated relationship with movement mostly because I haven’t been able to do it for large chunks of my life without extreme pain. It was always necessary for me to quell my anxiety and so sometimes my brain was like “move!” And my body was like “don’t you frickin dare.” 18 months ago, I was finally able to see a doctor at the Mayo Clinic. She prescribed me a med that’s used for sister diseases to mine (stuff like rheumatoid arthritis) and my symptoms all but disappeared after my first dose and while I get small recurrences every now and again it’s like, pretty good to be living this life right now. (Insert praise for western medicine here) (insert complications and uncertainty about how my disease was probably caused by compounding factors like the rise of commercial agricultural, industrialization, urbanization, government subsidies, and like, capitalism here)
Enter Solcana. I googled “gyms.” I came in and met Morgen. I didn’t realize it was so gay or queer or whatever the kids are calling it these days. I was mostly signing up for a crossfit bro-down because dammit I could FINALLY bend my previously swollen knees enough to entertain squatting. A bro-down would have been fine I guess, but what I got was much better.
I enjoy working out at Solcana. It’s not boring like running is boring (mostly). I’m working out for me, because I want to. It’s not because if I don’t squat more than Chris, I won’t get any playing time. The lack of the uber competitive environment, I’ve noticed, makes me even more excited for my gymmates when they get a PR than I even am for myself. I get to drink in peoples’ excitement. It’s rejuvenating.
And I get to watch coaches who love coaching coach. I remember I was sitting on a couch one time watching the class before mine finish their metcon and Hannah and Kaitlin were coaching an athlete together and their smiles were huge and the athlete’s receptiveness to the knowledge was palpable and their ability to implement that knowledge right there in their lives so quickly…gosh, it was maybe a 20 second interaction and it was life giving for me. This is what being human is. I get to witness that stuff every day at Solcana with people who amaze me.
I also started to see Lucia after a particularly panic-filled evening where I convinced myself that my meds weren’t working anymore because my knee started swelling up again. While diet alterations never really helped when my symptoms were in full force, I learned with Lucia that I can help my meds work through shoving different stuff in my face! It was cool to get results from adding things to my diet rather than subtracting.
Solcana has helped me to thrive in more ways I thought possible. It’s not perfect obvs but it’s better than most places I’ve been. I think fitness is a lot like clothes. There are so many different kinds meant for different people but how can you really know what feels good if you don’t try it on, even if it’s not “made for you” (whatever that means)? Sometimes you find stuff that’s on trend and then it dies and you’re stuck with it (the worm? Only time will tell), sometimes you find a timeless classic (like rowing) that you wish would die but won’t. And like I do clothes, I challenge folks to try fitness on, judgement free, piece by piece, and if there’s a piece that doesn’t feel just right, take it off and challenge yourself to try something else on. Solcana just happens to fit me (and some of the best people I know) really well.