24 inches of Box

Jumping up onto a box has always seemed a fun exercise. A person often jumps from a flat-footed position during the movement. The concept would be to jump up onto the top of a box, landing in a balanced position. The box can vary in height, depending on the ability to leap. My first experience with any box jumping came during a CrossFit workout. The box was too high for me to jump onto at the time. So, the box jump turned into simply stepping up and over. Even stepping up and over the box during the exercise was challenging. While working in this CrossFit gym, it was easy to notice the ease with which people were jumping up onto the boxes. Watching them left me wanting to attempt the box jumping exercise. It was a movement unfamiliar to me, but looked exciting. However, the boxes inside the CrossFit gym appeared intimidating. They were made of wood and appeared pretty unforgiving if the jump couldn’t be completed. The boxes in my home gym looked different from the wood boxes. Off in one corner of our gym there sat a variety of padded boxes of various sizes. They appeared larger in size and more forgiving with the padded surface. It took a couple weeks to muster the courage and ask if we could try a box jump. My trainer at the time responded positively to attempting the box jump.

It seems funny how sometimes the scarier the activity looks, the more we want to take on the challenge. Watching the box jumping take place in the CrossFit gym brought feelings of nervous excitement. Like something I definitely wanted to succeed at eventually. But, looking at the boxes left me bewildered of where someone like me would start. The main thing going through my head while peering around at the wood boxes was, what happens if I miss. With the hampered balance of cerebral palsy, it always seems to be the question running through my mind. Like the balance beams of my youth sitting above the ground just high enough to possibly do damage if fallen from. The wooden box was a fix point and would hurt in the case of a failed attempt, sending me, who knew where. It seemed best to leave an attempted box jump for a different situation. After a couple weeks of peering at the boxes in our gym, it seemed completing the exercise would be achievable. During my time of looking at the boxes, it was easy to notice they came in different sizes. The smallest box was three inches in height. My feeling was jumping three inches off the ground seemed doable. The courage finally came to ask my then trainer if we could do some box jumping. His reply was to take in the request and mull it over. Possibly thinking about the functionality of doing the box jump in our routine.

Within a couple weeks we were taking on the challenge of box jumping. It has been a couple years since my first experience with the box jump. If memory serves me correctly, the first box jump was just six inches in height. Jumping from a flat position onto a box was an activity causing much anxiety. The key was to begin with extra caution, making sure the movement could be achieved. There feels like a lot of coordination going into a box jump. Many places during the movement, where a slip could cause a fall. The timing of the jump has its importance, having the body make an explosive movement. The chain of muscles firing together in order to propel the body upward. Then, landing on the box and maintaining balance. As the force from the jump wants to carry you further, there becomes a requirement to stop your body. The body positioning requires attention in space to complete the movement without a tumble. Like many things we work on, keeping balance becomes important to guard against injury. So, we were able to achieve box jumping onto the six-inch height. The next challenge would be bumping the box up to twelve inches. After gaining comfort with the original height, the same form was used with slightly more explosion through the legs. The twelve-inch box was jumped onto and balance was maintained on the landing. We had accomplished the box jump.

The anxiety over completing the movement of box jumping subsided. Simply having the ability to perform the exercise felt good. Our next step was adding distance to the box jump. My previous trainer had me move further back. It created more distance to cover on the box jump. Instead of having me test my skills by jumping higher, he wanted me to jump a further distance. I remember feeling slightly nervous as we increased distance. But, with each slight step of retreat, the box jump continued to be accomplished. We never did jumping enough to have any significant height increase. Our time was spent doing other exercises, as the box jumping seemed to be shied away from. However, with a change in trainer, came a change in philosophy. It took a while for Bernard to bring box jumping into our program. As he worked balance and coordination for a long time before introducing the box jump. When he finally brought out the boxes, excitement filled my emotions for the opportunity. He began our box jumping journey at twelve inches of height. Helping me understand how to use my legs and hips to propel me off the ground. Already having worked on hopscotch, skipping, and jumping hurdles, I had gotten the feel for jumping off the floor. We were able to move from twelve inches to eighteen inches.

As we transitioned from twelve to eighteen inches in height, we did so gradually. The gym has boxes of three inches and six inches to add. Once Bernard found my ability to handle the twelve-inch box, we began moving upward. He first placed the three-inch box on top, making the jump onto fifteen. The added three inches still felt okay, as I was able to make the jump. While we worked on the jumping, my mind felt as though eighteen inches might be challenging. Bernard was satisfied with my ability at the fifteen-inch height. He removed the small three-inch box, adding the six-inch box in its place. This addition gave me a momentary pause, eighteen inches felt high. The first nuggets of doubt crept into my mind over completing the jump. Those thought of doubt at eighteen inches were unfounded, as the jump was completed five separate times with little hesitation. Box jumping had become a whole new experience. We were adding height to the jumps in much quicker fashion than I would have thought. When we reached eighteen inches of box, the accomplishment left me pretty thrilled. Turning to Bernard, I felt like a great goal would be twenty-four inches. Seeing how just an eighteen-inch jump made me nervous. His response surprised me when he said I should be able to get to at least thirty inches, maybe higher. Of course, I thought he was crazy, twenty-four would be the ceiling.

Touching a thirty-inch box jump seemed out of my league. The following week we did box jumping again. Warming up on twelve inches of height we quickly moved on to eighteen. After accomplishing the eighteen-inch jump previously, comfort had been gained in my ability. The comfort went flying out the window following my first set. Once Bernard witnessed the comfort gained with the eighteen-inch jump he added height. He placed three more inches onto the box, bringing the height to twenty-one. This was truly beginning to give me apprehension, but Bernard felt pretty confident, so we gave it a shot. The outcome was again positive, as twenty-one inches was mastered. It felt good to hit that height, but twenty-four still seemed allusive. The following week of workouts arrived and we went back to the box jump. This was going to be the week Bernard bumped up to twenty-four. But, it didn’t register until he brought out the box for me to jump.

Like previous weeks, Bernard had me get warmed up. He began my weekly journey with small boxes, providing comfort and confidence. The eighteen-inch box was pulled out from the wall. He wanted a good set of jumps up onto it. Satisfied with how I was doing, the box seeming impossible came out. Just looking at its height gave me anxious feelings. We went through what would happen if I missed. The box was set against a wall, so I could catch myself if falling forward. The other boxes were stacked to my left and Bernard stood on the right. If falling back was the fear, everything should be fine, as it was only twenty-four inches. It’s not that high…where have I heard that one before. My fear was falling back and conking my head. Which has happened at times during my life, explains a few things right… It was time to face the fear and jump. Well, all the talk and fear was for nothing as the jump was completed. Bernard had me jump a couple more times, proving to myself it wasn’t just luck. We had completed something in the gym that didn’t seem possible in my head. The accomplishment would fall among the best inside the gym.

The mental aspect of cerebral palsy can get in the way. Previous times of failing to accomplish a physical goal. Maybe there was a fall trying to maintain balance during an activity. The fall could have caused harm that was hurtful to the body and emotions. It seems important to stop those incidents from holding us back. As I write this conclusion, something happened at the gym just a couple hours ago. I attempted the twenty-four-inch box and missed the jump. It was the third jump during a set of five. The miss sent me tumbling to the right, landing on my side. The fear of falling had happened, but it didn’t cause injury to anything but my ego. Bernard had me get back up and continue the set. The next two jumps were completed without falling and we moved on to the next exercise. As we push to improve anything, for me cerebral palsy, things are going to happen. We could fall and possibly get banged up a bit. The important thing becomes continuing to work without giving up. After falling today, it was important to make another attempt, proving that even though I fell, the jump could still be done. The small steps, the falls, the fear and doubt, all seem part of the journey. We are called to push through it all and accomplish things that didn’t seem possible in our mind.




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