Random Thoughts from a Restless Mind

Dr. Darrell White's Personal Blog

Cape Cod

Learning the Ropes

The phrase “learning the ropes” takes on new meaning if you are a CrossFitter. After all, we actually do stuff with ropes, necessitating an actual learning process about what to do with ropes themselves! Once we’ve “learned the ropes” we are introduced to another cool phrase: “on the ropes”. After “learning the ropes” we might feel “on the ropes” every time we are actually, you know, on a rope.

The technical part you get; after all, you’re a CrossFitter and you have either climbed a rope or are about to do so. There are a couple or three ways to effectively scale those rungless bastards, and upon mastering one or another it’s time to start the learning process. As is so often the case for us, we end up learning much more about ourselves than we do about the movement.

Turns out that 1.5 or 2″ braided cord is a direct line to the place where we store fear. All kinds of fear. Fear of heights is the no-brainer, but right next to that on the shelf is fear of falling, of injury, and of failure. As a coach you see it every time a non-climber approaches the rope for the very first time. You know the look, somewhere between “deer in headlights” and your first time watching “The Shining”.

It’s a tiny little thing, actually, to be able to climb a rope. The physical act that is. Like so many other things we attempt in the gym, climbing a rope is a much deeper and more involved endeavor than just the technical climb. “Learning the ropes” is another one of those episodes of self-revelation, learning how you respond when you are “on the ropes”, a measure much greater than the length of the particular rope in question. Don’t believe me? All you have to do is see the look on the face of a first-timer when she reaches up and taps the beam or rings the bell. It’s a look of way more than “I just climbed a rope.”

It’s the look of conquest, and she’ll be taking that with her everywhere from that moment on.


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