Recently, I’ve been living under the bar. Here is why.
Looking back, I now know I was simply born a competitor. I was born to walk up to a challenge, size it up, look it square in the face, and overcome it. Not just overcome it - but actually demolish it. Then, and only then, am I satisfied. Maybe for the day, maybe for only a few hours – until a new challenge catches my interest and I realize I have the ability to be even better that I thought possible. This is the constant circle diagram that is my life.
Growing up, that diagram was applied to the sport of basketball. I have been a competitive basketball player at high levels my entire life. It started out as a fun game, something that I enjoyed to do, something that I was genetically built for, and it just accidentally became the victim of my competitive nature. I quickly learned this was not a bad thing. I was blessed with some God given athleticism and the will to work hard. I soon learned how to apply them to my competitive nature and my need to be successful so I could use it to my advantage.
After 16 years of basketball and four years of playing at the division 1 level for a mid-major college some fire in me was gone. I was still competitive, but the fun had minimized significantly and I knew my passion flame was starting to shrink. Add two knee surgeries into the mix, one that cost me my ENTIRE left meniscus (the protective cushion in the joint) and the knee pain just wasn’t worth the game anymore. I never desired to play overseas professionally or walk into a WNBA tryout; I was almost ready to walk away from being a competitor.
Then I found the bar. And started to live under it.
I was introduced to CrossFit (I will refer to it often as competitive exercise) accidentally. I didn’t think much of it - I thought it would be a cool way to stay in shape in my retired basketball days. But… naturally it didn’t take long for me to realize I needed to improve in many things and had the ability to be able to compete with some of the best one day if I worked hard – there is my competitive nature. Insert aforementioned circle diagram of Nicole’s life here. So now here I am, under the bar. Same story, different sport. Where I use to walk around dribbling my Rock with a huge smile on my face, I am now swinging kettlebells and flying under barbells with that same huge smile. I could not be happier or more excited.
My passion is back; my excitement to get up everyday and get better at something has returned. I have found something that is FUN again! The idea of “getting back in the lab and working” as I use to refer to my time on the basketball court is present everyday now. But instead I am in a gym laced with rigs, rings, bumpers, and barbells. Instead of analyzing my exact thumb and elbow placement on my 3-point shot and then heading over to the court to take 300 of them the right way; I am now watching endless videos of bar track and footwork on my Olympic lifts, or my hip explosion and body awareness in my gymnastics movements – only to head over to the gym and get a ton of reps in right.
I’m still getting use to this, still trying to fit in – until I accidentally wear my basketball shorts to do “Fran” or start to follow through on wall balls and realize I am probably always going to be a baller at heart. Something I am now okay with.
Living under the bar has been so amazing because it re-ignited in me something I thought I could never feel again. It has brought me back some of my favorite feelings – hard work, pressure, challenge, victory, accomplishment, excitement, approval and satisfaction. Just like before, every day I want to be better. I want to perfect my craft. Then I want to walk out in front of as many people as I can, poised and confident, and perform. I want to show them the fruits of my labor in hopes they will then understand dedication and heart and apply it to their own lives.
Living under the bar, or on top of the rings, isn’t easy. I don’t want it to ever be easy. Basketball was never easy. Life is never easy. That’s the great part about all of this though. It is a perfect lesson in walking up to something difficult, sizing it up and down, looking it straight in the face, and overcoming it. Not just overcoming it – but demolishing it.
Follow me as I continue to live under the bar… with a huge smile on.
*You can find this post and other posts by my peers and I at: