You might say I’m a glutton for punishment.

For some reason, I am always drawn to the fitness activities that most would call crazy. Crossfit is my activity of choice. It’s a combination of powerlifting, sprinting, gymnastics and sometimes swimming. I signed up for a 5-week competition for people of all ages and fitness levels. The workout is announced at the same time every week and competitors gather around the computer to hear what the compilation or grueling movements would be. There are a few movements that every Crossfitter dreads to hear.  Burpees and box jumps are right up there at the top of the list.  But for me, there is another one. Pull ups. Cue scary music…I hate pull-ups for one reason only.  I can’t do them. Not even one. So here’s how the workout was laid out.

2 rounds of

50ft walking lunges with 20# dumbbells

16 hanging knee tucks

8  20# dumbbell cleans

2 rounds

50ft walking lunges with 20# dumbbells

16 pull ups

8  20# dumbbell cleans

Don’t let the workout jargon throw you off. What you need to know is that you can’t move on to the next movement until you’ve completed the one before. You can’t skip it, modify it or adapt it. You must do it correctly with a judge watching you. If you don’t complete the full range of motion then it doesn’t count. And it must be done in less than 12 min.

The timer starts…3-2-1 – GO. We are off, racing against each other and against ourselves. I completed the first two rounds with relative ease. Oh, one more important point I haven’t mentioned. I decided to record this on FB LIVE. I founded a fitness ministry and social media page. So I post lots of videos, but I’m not too keen on FB LIVE. The thought of having a live audience has always increased my nervousness exponentially. For some reason, I decided to step outside my comfort zone and invite a crowd to join me in my workout. A decision I would soon regret.

Back to the workout. I completed the first 2 rounds taking only a few short breaks.  Next, pull ups.  I grabbed the bar with both hands, and with all my might, I tried to pull myself up against gravity. To no avail. I tried again, and still, barely 2 inches upward. My coach was on the sidelines giving me pointers. He’s teaching me to kip, a way to gather momentum for the pull-up. Nothing. My kipping is awful, and I still can’t get my chin over the bar. My competitors moved on to the next round and I found myself alone, staring up at the bar; hopeless. 16 reps were what I needed. I hadn’t completed one. Then I remembered that THIS IS LIVE! People are tuning in and are watching me fail at this movement over and over again. I’m kicking myself for my decision to go live. 8 minutes go by, the world is watching me flail, and dangle from this bar, as I fail repeatedly. The timer rang. The workout was over. I didn’t even get through half of it. My coach gave me a high 5 for not quitting and I headed home feeling like a failure, wanting to put the whole experience behind me.

I dragged myself to the gym the following week. Head hung low, shoulders rounded, not looking forward to the competition. A young woman approached and said, “I’m here because of you.” Confused, I asked her what she meant. She continued by saying, “I saw your video last week. I watched you struggle on that pull-up bar for 8 minutes! I kept expecting you would quit, but you never did. I was so encouraged by your willingness to keep trying. I actually got tearful as I watched you try over and over again.” Then she confessed, “I’ve allowed my failure to keep me out of the gym for so long. After watching you, I feel like, if you are brave enough to face your fears then why can’t I be brave enough?” So after being away from the gym for months, she came back to conquer her fears, all because I allowed her to watch my struggle.

As Christians, we usually tell others how much better our lives are with Christ in it; how much stronger we are, how much more polished we are, how put-together we are. That is a great way to evangelize. It undoubtedly brings people into the fold of Christ. But some people need to see our struggle in real time. Not after we have overcome, but WHILE we are struggling. Some people need to see that even Christians have fears, we aren’t able to beat on the first attempt. Sometimes we struggle for days, months or years with the same afflictions and though we failed yesterday, we come back to the proverbial pull-up bar today. I want people to know that you don’t have to wait until you’re perfect to come to Christ. You don’t have to overcome your struggle before you enter the church doors. You can join the fold of believers in the midst of your struggle. Because we are all standing under a pull-up bar of some sort hoping that maybe this time we will finally get our chin over the bar.

Tanzy Chandler


Tanzy Chandler is a Doctor of Physical Therapy, group fitness instructor, and founder of REVAMP FITNESS. She is committed to encouraging and empowering others in making their mental and physical health a priority. She feels strongly that this mission, is her God given purpose and she is honored to serve Him in this way. Please follow her journey on Facebook and feel free to email her at

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