IRON MARTHA AND IRON MARNNA
By: Lauren Anderson
Last week I finally convinced my big sister Marnna to come work out with me.
We were hanging out at her house, enjoying a beer and the first backyard fire of the season, and the subject of the gym came up. I knew I had her, because with her new job she has a few afternoons free during the week.
So, nanner nanner boo boo! She finally had no excuse.
Now, if you’ve been following along with this blog, you probably recognize Marnna. She is the sister I was living with when I first started Solcana. I learned how to cook for my Essential You class in her kitchen, and she was the literally the person that picked me off the floor of her living room, and convinced me that I could do this.
I’ll never forget, I couldn’t even do one sit up. I was sitting on her floor, crying. She coolly stood on my feet and said, “C’mon Laurie. (my sister is one of a few people that can call me Laurie) Just do what you can until you can do more…then do more.”
The calm clarity of those simple words made so much sense to me. I was able to bolster myself, be a bit brave, and give it a try. And those have literally been the words that I have repeated to myself more than anything else.
(Read the very first blog I ever wrote for the full story “Week 1: Hi My name is Lauren and I’m Afraid of CrossFit”)
But the fact that Marnna gave me the words that would become my workout mantra is no surprise. Because that’s how she rolls. My sister is hilarious and practical, deeply compassionate, and the kind of person that just gets sh!t done.
Her whole life, she has been like a Pied Piper of lost souls. Her home is always a safe haven for strays and runaways– animal and people alike. She doesn’t give up easy. I’ve seen people literally steal from her, and she forgave them.
So you know… she’s that kind of cool.
I think people and animals always gravitate towards her, because she is that perfect mix of a grounding force, and ultimate acceptance. She lets you be who you are, and then sneakily shows you that you are capable of more.
If you can’t tell already, I’ve always looked up to my sister. She forges her own path and makes no apologies. She’s also one of those wonderful (*jealously inducing) people that is pretty good at just about everything she tries.
And turns out, CrossFit is no exception.
She was nervous to be there, because I think almost everybody is when they first walk into the gym. But it didn’t take long before she seemed like she did this every week. Of course. Of course. I knew that would be the case. Along with all the other stuff that my sister is great at, she’s also somewhat of a natural athlete. How could I forget?
When we were little, my sister was really good at gymnastics. And she loved it. And because it’s easier to bring two kids to the same extra-curricular activity, I somehow got roped into gymnastics too. I, however, was terrible at it. My crowning achievement from my gymnastics days was trying to run and jump over the pommel horse, and missing it by—all of it, and getting the wind knocked out of me.
I still remember that being a good day though. Cause I got to sit out for the rest of class and watch my sister dominate on her floor routine. And I think one of the coaches gave me a book to read. So you know, WIN.
Cut back to the gym, I found myself feeling a little bit like I used to feel when I was little. Secretly wanting Marnna to think what I was doing was good and cool. Trying to give her space, but surreptitiously checking in to see if she was watching me. Isn’t that funny? Some things never change…
When I did see her, she appeared effortless. She was concentrating and looking like a fish in water. Even when it came to the deadlifting portion, her form was instantly spot on, and she was lifting as much as me NO PROBLEM. Of course. Of course she was.
Luckily, she is my big sister so there is this sense that she always knows better anyway. So I wasn’t frustrated or jealous. I saw her approach this new gym experience the same way I have observed her approach any challenge in her life. Head down, concentrate, and let’s get it done.
I was just kind of in awe.
If she was doing any mental gymnastics, I couldn’t read it on her face. Even when it was time for the Met Con. Marnna and I paired up for the deadlifting and the box jumps. But Coach Morgan gave the class the choice to either jog outside or stay inside and row. Marnna chose to jog. And in true “indoor kid” fashion, I was the only person in class that chose the rower.
When Coach Morgan pulled out the rower I noticed she grabbed Iron Martha. Fun fact, all the rowers at Solcana are named after famous female-identifying weightlifters. In the early days, I almost met my maker on Iron Martha… and I’ve somehow managed to avoid rowing on that machine ever since. Because it’s the machine right?! Uh huh…
But I dunno. Maybe it was because I was the only one rowing and I didn’t want to be a diva, or that my sister– the queen of forgiveness was there, but I decided to finally come back around and do my rowing on Iron Martha. I figured a lot has changed since that fateful day.
The bell began, and it was on. As the class took off to run around the block, I sat down and did my first round of 500 meters on Iron Martha. I couldn’t help thinking back to my first time on her. When 500 meters was a distant notion, and I had an asthma attack attempting 200 meters.
It didn’t take long for me to forgive Iron Martha. It’s just a machine after all. And I quickly reconciled that my dislike of Iron Martha was misplaced frustration. In the early days, I felt betrayed by my body. But instead of recognizing it for what it was, I just pushed it out and blamed the rower instead, cause it was easier.
But those days are behind me now. It’s time for Iron Martha and I to become friends.
And to my surprise and elation, I reached 500 meters just as the fastest runners were returning from the alley outside. Wait a second… does that mean I kept pace with the runners? HOLY HELL! That’s awesome. I got up and started my deadlifts as Marnna re-entered the gym. She had on her typical, head down, get it done look. And with that same determination she started her box jumps.
I loved working out with her. It was a weird feeling. You know how you always perceive something to be a certain way, and then suddenly something will change in an instant, and then EVERYTHING seems different?
For my whole life I always admired my sister’s ability to just do it. And for the first time, working out with her, I felt like maybe I had a little of that spirit too. I wasn’t bogged down with emotion, or the pain of comparison, or even a feeling that I don’t belong.
I had my head down, and I was getting sh!t done. Just like Marnna. And in some kinda coup, I was even ON PACE with her. Meaning we were actually doing the same thing at the same time.
I had to laugh a little, because I’ve been working towards this moment for 2 years, and this was LITERALLY Marnna’s first day at the gym. But it didn’t matter. We were finally working out together.
In one class I reconciled my dislike of Iron Martha, and I kept pace with my sister who I’m now calling Iron Marnna. Because just like Iron, my sister is so naturally strong. Not just in the body, but also the spirit. And just like Iron, she is a fortifying substance. She can do anything… but maybe, if I try hard enough, I can too?
The little sister in me felt instantly hyper by this.
But you know, I kept it cool. Cause that’s what Iron Marnna would do.