Cross Fit – a Love/ Hate Relationship
I’m just heading into month 3 of Crossfit and I’m finally starting to gain some strength and learn what ‘open close’ means. I’ve gained a bucket of self confidence, lost my ‘old lady bat wing arms’ and worn my first pair of short shorts. Plus I’ve learned a few random things I want to pass on to anyone who might be starting out or thinking of WOD-ing in the future.
1. Looking at the WOD (workout of the day) before the class just makes me think of 50 other things I really need to be doing other than working out (Swiffering/ washing the dog/ watching Ink Masters reruns). I can’t look or I won’t go. Instead I spend my day thinking that tonight’s workout is going to be easy… because that’s happened. Never. My advice. Don’t look.
2. There is no shame in playing around with 5 and 2.5lb weights, or maxing out with a bar which looks very small compared to everyone else’s. There is only shame in not lifting as much as you can as well as you can. And if you can surprise yourself.. even better.
3. Working out with women doesn’t mean cattiness, competitiveness or all pink gym attire. Its collegial, supportive and inspiring. And working out with dudes ain’t bad either.Its one of the few places I’ve been in the US where its ok for men and women to be friends and a ‘high five’ doesn’t mean ‘I want to take your pants off’.
4. All those years playing on the playground apparently did pay off. Handstands, skipping, knees to elbows and wall balls.. all things I was rocking age 9. So even though it took 32 years for these skills to be become relevant and useful.. I’m thinking of it as ‘time well spent’. Hell, I even had the knee socks. I was so ahead of this thing.
5. There will always, always be things you love in every workout, and things you hate with a passion. And weirdly, at CrossFit, everyone seems to have a similar list starting out. And no, even if you get better at them, you’re probably always going to hate them…
For the uninitiated, the burpee was invented by the army as a way to get soldiers to throw themselves on the ground as fast as possible to avoid bullets, and then be able to spring up to their feet and into action as fast as possible. Or that’s what I tell myself. Because why else would you ask a human being to throw themselves on the floor full length, then spring to their feet and jump in the air as fast as possible, over and over and over and over? It makes no sense. What else was this developed for? Sex Pistols fans avoiding tear gas? Entomologists finding a new bug? Its a weird idea and Cross Fit is full of them. ‘Turkish get up’ anyone?
And if your instructor is particularly cruel, s/he’ll throw some jumps over a bar or a box in-between each burpee. Because once you’ve slammed your boobs and knees flat to the ground then jumped to your feet, you need to jump over a 20 or 24 inch high box. Or in my case, fall over.
But at least I’m on the floor.. which means I’m probably ready for another burpee…
Lets just say after three burpee box jumps you can’t see straight and you’re breathing harder than Malboro man. Its really not fun at all and the chance of injury is extremely high. I’ve got bruises on my nipples and my knees for gods sake. That’s just not right.
Everyone has seen a boxer jumping rope. It lightly swishes past his feet, over and over.. he looks at ease, comfortable even. Maybe he’ll dance a little, swing from side to side, or even switch up his feet. Everyone skipped when we were kids; how hard can it be?
Hard. Especially now that the rope is made of wire and when it hits your ankles you feel like you’ve volunteered for 50 Shades of Grey, the gym edition. Which of course means it’s part of Cross Fit workouts.
But no, it gets better. Because at Cross fit, just jumping rope would be too easy. It wouldn’t hurt enough. So instead of jumping rope, you ‘double under’. You rotate the rope twice in the space of one jump. Which means not only are you pogo-ing like a lunatic at a Sex Pistols show, your hands are whipping a wire rope around your head like Tonto snagging a steer. I’ve done a double under. Once. 2 months ago. It was accidental. I think I took out a chunk of my ponytail as a result. I’ve not managed another one yet. Instead, twice or three times a week I find myself whipping my ankles raw and bleeding until my neighbors start coming out to watch the free BDSM show. I’m getting to the point where I think I’m going to just give up trying or start wearing shin guards.
People in the office are starting to wonder about the lash marks and I’ve already got a reputation as a scary chick.
The Second Day Crab Walk
While this isn’t actually part of the official Cross Fit workout program, every single Cross fitter knows it well. The day after, the day after your WOD. Second day soreness. The day you can’t get up or down stairs, sit on the toilet without groaning or, god forbid, bend over.
While Cross Fit is hard and every work out leaves you gasping for air on the floor, the next day you feel positively sprightly. I put it down to an overdose of endorphins and self confidence, but regardless, Day 1 after your WOD you could lift a horse. You might even tackle a run or a ride. Wow.. you feel FIT. And STRONG.
Until 6am the next morning when for some reason, your legs don’t work right. They seem to be stuck at a angle and you feel like someone hit your ass with an iron bar last night. Breathing in hurts… only slightly less than breathing out. And wow… sitting in your car, you honestly feel as though your power steering went out because you honestly can’t move the wheel without downing four Advil.
It huuuurrrts. Everything huuuuurrrttts.
Maybe its your hamstrings which feel as though they could be played like a violin or your pectorals which are so painful, you walk around like a T-Rex all day with little noodle arms flopping. Your quads ache so much that you have to crab walk down and up the stairs, pausing after each one to get your breath back and rethink that whole ‘pain of childbirth’ scale of things.
My boss started Cross fit a year ago and as I watched him, hunched over, creeping along the hallways with legs as stiff as a cadaver I kept thinking ‘that ain’t right’. Well fast forward to July and here I am, buying a quart of milk because I can’t lift the gallon container and clutching my stomach every time I laugh.
3 months in I’m only 3lbs lighter, but I can fit in skinny jeans again, lift about 40% more than I could at the start and I have about 50 new friends who I love getting sweaty with. I still hate burpees and double unders, and I still walk like a crab on occasion.. but nobody laughs. They’re all feeling exactly the same pain as me.
Which is what Cross Fit is all about.