This Is How Being An ICE NYC Mobility Instructor Impacted How I Tackled The CrossFit Open

If you like what you read, come to our Mobility class at 12:15pm on Saturday mornings on the UES. 

As a practitioner and teacher of yoga as well as a CrossFit athlete, I am constantly holding space for my body so that I can operate in a state of simultaneous effort and ease, strength and flexibility, power and softness. To me, this balance is mobility.  This year the CrossFit Open offered me the opportunity to shift the way I teach mobility as well as how I practice mobility to overcome plateaus and mental obstacles in and out of the box.

This was my first year doing the Open and I wasn’t sure what to expect. 17.1 was announced and I thought, “I can do this.” Literally. I am fully able of moving this weight and my body. There’s nothing fancy here, I just have to keep moving, keep breathing, keep working. I prepped myself with plenty of sleep and water, a bagel sammy and cold brew the morning of, and a solid warm-up, which included a seated meditation and series of breathing exercises. I set myself up for success, taking the measures that I know best support me in building focus, balance and confidence.

That first open workout certainly was not easy, but I never once hesitated or questioned anything, I just did it. I was in it, right there with that box and those dumbbells.

Fast forward to a week later, and 17.2 was a completely different story.

My experience with toes to bar had not been “good.” When I started CrossFit, they were the one thing I thought I’d never be able to do. And honestly, I didn’t even want to try. In my mind, I was just fine doing toes to rings forever. And I didn’t have to face my sh*t. Until 17.2.

When I hopped up on that bar, I lost sight of everything other than the fact that I was in a very vulnerable position and it became immobilizing. Maybe it was opening the front and back body at the same time multiple times in a row, sending a message to my brain that said, “you are not safe here.” What followed was a string of expletives and a lot of tears. It went downhill, and fast.

After the epic meltdown that was 17.2, and serious contemplation about quitting the Open, I turned to what I know works best in moments of deep questioning: my practice.  My personal practice includes the following elements: meditation, visualization, breathing exercises and movement, all of which I also  incorporate into my mobility class.

I took the weekend after 17.2 off. I didn’t work out, I laid low. I wrote, I got quiet, I got on my mat. I turned inward. I took what felt like an embarrassment and failure and I worked through what that association felt like in my mind and in my body. That’s what my practice offers me continually.

The breath brings me back to the present, strips away my anxiety about what had already passed or what is yet to come. Meditation creates space between stimuli and my response, giving me time to separate what actually happened from what I’ve made it mean. Movement is about recognizing when I am embodying my emotions - it gets really raw and gives me an overall awareness of what emotions trigger me physically. And visualization takes me from backward thinking into the mentality of, “What is now the time for?”.

On Monday, I did 17.2 again. I didn’t worry too much about beating anyone, I really just wanted to at least complete the second round of toes to bar. This is the part where I’d love to tell you that I did it (and even got my first muscle-up!) however, that didn’t happen. I only did about 8 more toes to bar than the first time. While I set myself up to achieve a goal and I didn’t meet it, I was proud of those 32 toes to bar (and shredded hands). A couple months ago, I couldn’t even do one.

I attribute my success to the practice.

What I learned from the Open and 17.2 specifically is that I can’t ignore what’s been written into my neurological make-up and I can’t really move forward on a sub-par foundation. I am a student and teacher of what supports me feeling strong and able in my body, contributes to building more complex movement patterns by continually revisiting the building blocks and celebrating the progress that comes with tapping back into the mind body connection as a consistent, intentional habit.

Author Bio: Gabrielle Morbitzer grew up living, breathing, eating and sleeping as a competitive athlete. Rehabilitation from a knee surgery closed that chapter and opened up the opportunity to heal through yoga. With mental and physical well-being as her guide, Gabby found a way to reclaim the role of athlete by incorporating Crossfit into her life. She was drawn to it and stuck with it because of the personal power and growth it offers as well as the sense of community that can be found at a great gym.Gabby has over 400 hours of vinyasa yoga training. Her work focuses on building flexibility and strength together to create dynamic and healthy movement patterns, developing an awareness of the relationship between body and breath, and fostering mindfulness in performance.

IG: @gabrielalaloca