I hit a new milestone in my life this week. It wasn’t a birthday or the birth of a child; it wasn’t a promotion at work; in fact, others barely noticed my accomplishment. It happened during round 8 of the infamous 12 days of Christmas workout at Spartan Strength. I used the 42” plyobox! It wasn’t pretty; the form was far from exemplary, but I got up there. Some of you reading this might be mildly impressed at best; others are probably wondering why I feel this event is even worth writing about. It’s a big deal for me because I’ve been working on it for the last 15 months.
I came into Spartan Strength in fairly good physical condition. I had plenty of experience in the gym. In a past endeavor I was even a certified personal trainer. Despite all of this I can’t say I was blessed with any real amount of natural athleticism.
When I started Spartan I had only read about functional training and I was excited to try something new. I would like to think I did fairly well my first week, but, like nearly everyone that comes into Spartan Strength, I found the first two weeks to be quite brutal. Every day seemed like a religious experience as I could have sworn I saw the pearly gates of Heaven on multiple occasions. This was especially true when it came to box jumps. To be honest, since I’m not particularly athletic I saw them as rather intimidating. I found the 18” box to be challenging enough. I would jump up landing with a echoing thud on the box. I feared the devastation that my shins would experience if I tried and failed on a taller box. I watched somewhat enviously as Nick and a select few other jumped on some of the taller boxes.
The first two weeks passed and, just like I tell new Spartans, that is when things got easier. The workouts don’t ever get easier physically but you learn to win the mental battle. As a matter of fact I found the improvements in my mental conditioning were improving as much as my physical conditioning. I began to work on deceleration on the box jump landing with “soft feet.” Soon the 18” box jump became 24”. I got to the point where I was pushing myself to get as many jumps in as I could during the timed intervals. Then came eliminating a false step I tend to take when I jump. Like clock work the 24” box jump progressed quickly to 30” and 36” box jumps, but the 42” plyobox was still a little too intimidating for me.
Months passed by – one punishing workout after another, and I hit countless other personal milestones in the areas of strength, speed, agility, and body composition. I kept coming in every day even when I was feeling unmotivated because I knew the program designed by Nick kept me on the path to success – especially when it came to the sometimes undervalued recovery day.
Finally, Tuesday during round eight it all came together. I was feeling especially confident that day and I underestimated myself on some of the earlier rounds, so I had plenty of juice left in the tank. I figured why not give it a shot? I set up and I visualized myself successfully jumping on that skyscraper of a box. I lowered myself and loaded my quads and hips, ready to launch myself upward. As I began to jump, I hesitated. I let my body abort mission and did some sort of halfhearted skip into the box and dearly hoped no one else noticed.
A little mad at myself, I contemplated going down a box size and trying again another day. I began to think about the week before when Nick was doing his ridiculous gym trick of the week ,which was doing a box jump onto a plyobox with a rubber medicine ball on top of it. After he did it he made the comment, “The key to most of these tricks is just having the courage to try.”
I knew with all the hard work I put in over the past several months there was no reason I couldn’t do it. My body was probably physically capable for some time, I just needed the courage to commit to the jump. I set up again loading my quads and hips like before. With renewed confidence it all came together this time. I accelerated upward with the power I had been working with on my squats, My feet left the ground after I hit the triple extension I had been working on with my hang cleans, I tucked my knees to my chest using the flexibility I’ve gained with Nick harping at me about increasing my range of motion, and in a split second it was all over. I landed it. I noticed a newer member also doing box jumps nearby look over and raise his eyebrows with approval of what he just saw. I hopped down and, without all the internal drama, I did it again – no sweat.
It was just a 42” box jump. I didn’t win a gold medal or anything like that but it was something I had been working on for a long time and it felt dang good to get it done. I kicked myself into gear for the rest of the workout and ended with the kind of exhaustion expected from the 12 days of Christmas workout. On my way out the door I mentioned to Nick and Michelle that I had hit the tallest box jump for the first time and they both congratulated me. Now I’m on to my next milestone in the gym.
If you’re coming to Spartan and you’re putting in maximum effort while you’re here, I’ve found there is no such thing as “I can’t” – there is only “I have yet to…” What’s your 42” box jump? What accomplishment is it that drives you? Is it a 50” box jump? Is it running a marathon? Maybe it’s fitting into your skinny jeans from yesteryear or just having enough energy to keep up with your kids after a long day of work. It doesn’t matter what your current fitness level is or how far away reaching your goal may seem – just keep showing up and putting in the work. It took me 15 months to do a 42” box jump but I got it done. The program at Spartan Strength works. I’m still not a naturally athletic person, but guess what? I can land a 42” box jump!