Written by Hannah Dykstra
Northstate CrossFit trainer, Hannah Dykstra, recently incurred a serious injury to her knee while training to be a part of the California Regionals team represented in Del Mar. As unfortunate as this experience has been for her, we asked her to reflect on the experience thus far and what she has learned as both athlete and coach.
As most of you know, I have fallen victim to the term “set back.” Who knew that listening to nursery rhymes while descending from rope climbs could be so dangerous! Now, I’m not writing this to deem the term false or to disagree and say this hasn’t been a set back in some sort of way because it has. This injury has set me back in a few ways – in a matter of seconds I went from potentially competing at the 2017 CrossFit Games California Regionals with my team to relearning how to flex my quad. But moreso than being a setback, it has also been a learning curve. In the past four weeks of limited mobility and learning cool crutch tricks, I have learned more than my Bachelors Degree could ever prove. This is not a cry for sympathy but is simply a way to share all that I’ve learned and all that I’ve been humbled by, mixed in with a bit of vulnerability. So here is a list of small lessons learned in this experience:
Although this may be a “set back,” I have decided to explore it as an opportunity. As cliche as it sounds, this is an opportunity to grow as a trainer, coach, athlete and movement nerd. I have been spending hours in front of my computer reading countless articles and watching videos of fitness nerds and body building junkies as a chance to educate myself in becoming the best coach, trainer and mentor that I can possibly be in order to offer people what they deserve.
In modern culture, we are are so unbelievably privileged to participate in our own fitness. Simply walking into the gym is a privilege within itself. We get the chance to exercise freely with the support of an amazing community and methodology. It’s so easy to get caught up in missing lifts or failing to Rx a workout, but just rememberer how lucky we are to choose to go to the gym. Don’t take a burpee for granted! You get to choose to be at the gym, remember that.
As an injured athlete, I am forced to slow down and halt my intensity. It’s almost dangerous how much I miss crawling around in agony after a nasty JorgenStrong workout. Therefore, I am taking this opportunity as an athlete to respect the sport as a whole. I am guilty of disrespecting time and progress for PR’s and faster times. I lost a sense of primal mechanics and healthy movement so I set aside 10 minutes of my own “GimpFit’’ program to focus all of my intentions into being a student of my own body. I spend this time playing around with different positions and movements while understanding my body through weaknesses and holding positions until I break a sweat. Based on my experiences, I would highly suggest taking 10 minutes of your day to face a wall, close your eyes, turn on some music (or not) and practice movement to become a student of your own body.
This is where the vulnerability comes in! In all honesty, it hasn’t been very hard to stay positive about this whole situation. The thought of a full recovery keeps me positive – there are many people who don’t get to fully experience recovery! Now, on the other hand, it has in fact been an emotional rollercoaster, but being a student of the body is also being a student of the mind, which means it’s OKAY to feel. Allow yourself to experience the wholeness of “feeling,” whether that be physical or emotional.
I am so honored to be a part of the CrossFit community and it amazes me how the common interest of fitness can bring so many people together. Never have I ever felt so much love and support from people I have known for such a short time. I’ve always had the idea that I am surrounded by supportive people, but that’s fairly easy to see when you’re on the road to success. It’s the times of hardships and “set backs,” when you are at your worst, when humanity really shines. I am so thankful of every text, call, note, conversation, brace and Compex machine I have received. So shoutout to my NSCF community. Thank you!
So there it is, small lessons learned by a gimp in short four weeks. If you have endured an injury in any aspect of life, I hope you find some relatable points to these minor lessons. Even if you haven’t maybe force yourself to take a step back. So far this has been the most humbling experience I’ve ever endured.