Yes I can!

My first unassisted chin-up | Photo courtesy of Melissa Donald

For weeks, a goal has been looming over my head. The blasted, seemingly unattainable chin-up hovered, taunting me, just out of my reach. I first discovered how incredibly hard chin-ups were in late September, the first time I went home from the gym and cried.

That day I wrote: “There’s not wanting to quit, and then there’s physically just not being capable, and it was finding the meeting point that made me cry afterward. Wanting to do something just isn’t enough to make me able to do it and that’s hard to face.”

Since then I’ve worked and struggled in my little corner of the gym with the Dana-size pull-up bar. With steadfast coaching I’ve tried lots of reps, few reps, death by chin-ups and one-rep sets. I’ve used big bands, little bands and no bands, just going as far as I could and Coach lifting me the rest of the way. I became a little (maybe a lot) obsessed, researching chin-ups.

A horrible thought crept in my mind that I might, in fact, never be strong enough. It took me all this time to work up to squatting my body weight, and think how much stronger legs are than arms! But still I pictured myself pulling up over that bar on my own, and couldn’t let it go.

Tonight, while working with a photographer for a magazine story I’m writing, she asked me to hold a pose on the bar. I laughed — “I can’t even get up there, much less hold it,” I said ruefully.

“Give her two minutes,” Coach said to the photographer. “She can try it.”

Surprisingly I was calm, no jitters. I stepped off the box, hung from the bar, and pulled myself up. That was it! As I approached the bar my momentum slowed and I think I hung there for a moment. “Pull!” Coach was shouting, Kat was shouting, maybe others were too. I was so close, and I knew it’d make it. And I did! I came down and smacked Coach’s hand with all the strength left in me. “Look, I have goose bumps,” he grinned. “Hot, damn, I did it it!” I exclaimed to the gym at large.

“When are you gonna do two?” Kat called out before my crazy happy grin even left my face. That’s why I love this place.

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