So. Crossfit. Seriously. You jump up on boxes, hang on loops, and flip some tires over. Yeah, that’s exercise. I did not think so. Till I got myself to one of those gyms that promotes it.
Let me give you a background in my physical fitness experience. I hold a few belts in martial arts (was an Olympic hopeful for the 96 in Judo), competed in powerlifting, and for years was an avid paintball competitor. Ive always been active but every time I thought about exercise I only thought powerlifing (heavy weight to build bulk) or hours of throwing people around. So, I’m not your average couch potato. I do exercise and train. I’ve always lived by the mantra, “Lift big, to be big”, and never thought about jumping on a wooden box as exercise.
Now here I come to a little website called GameNTrain and meet this crazy guys named Eric Hoff who owns the place. We strike up a friendship and even work together on projects and he starts to talk about this exercise regiment called Crossfit. A quick search on the net and I see it’s this crazy looking group of exercises mixing some Olympic style lifts with body weight exercises. Eric convinces me to try it and I decided, “Why not? How hard can it be?”.
Now, there are a lot of places that call themselves Crossfit Gyms here locally and it was pretty easy to find one that would let me come into one of their groups to train for free to try it out. So I grabbed by bag with all sorts of lifting paraphernalia in it and drove to the “gym” to try it out.
My first impression pulling up to the front of the place was looking at a store front where I expected to see Yoga going on with some hippies inside saying “ohm” for hours on end. I saw the proverbial females in skimpy outfits, the totally out of shape people standing there with fear in their eyes and the skinny “8-pack” guys off to one side with determined looks on their faces, but, no one like me. I saw no “hardcore” lifters. To be honest, this concerned me a bit.
I walked in to the front counter shook hands and met a little petite thing, named Candi of all things, and she handed me the forms to fill out so in case I die they know who to call. She explains it’s a lot different than what I am used to as we don’t go for the bulky look but are trying to “better ourselves to be more physically fit”. I really couldn’t help but laugh nervously.
She continued to explain they do everything together. As a class. The entire group does the exercises together at the same time or with a partner taking turns on certain “stations”. Now as a lifter, we use a partner so we don’t have a ton of weight come crashing down on your face when your muscles fail during a huge set, so my thought was ok, safety first. I was in total shock when she said she would be my partner for the day so she could walk me thru everything. She was about 105 pounds soaking wet with 50 bucks of quarters in her pockets! My partner? I’m 300 pounds! Seriously? How can she spot me? Well, Ok, if you say so.
We started with Squats with no weight. Just standing up and squatting down. Like 25 of them. OK easy enough. Then burpees. I did these in football. Hated them then and still do if your asking. Then I got excited when they said Over Head Squats with weights!
Now you hold the barbell over head and squat down in the normal squatting position which is an exercise I have done a lot of. When they handed me two forty-five(45) pound dumbells I couldn’t help but laugh again. We did 10 of them. I actually started to need to control my breathing by this time.
Then we all stopped, people got their drinks, chatted, stretched, and Candi and her crew drug out these large wooden boxes and put them in front of each station area. This is new. Box jumps. The idea is to jump up onto this box, a few times in a row. Guys, I can lift a lot. You want me to jump on a box for exercise?. I’m game. Every kid from a very young age thinks they can jump higher than their friends. Should be fun. Guess what. They ain’t that easy.
We had to do it 12 times. I’d jump up, then down, and my partner would jump up when I hit the floor. At number 10, for some reason, my legs decided that they didn’t want to work anymore. I left the floor, I think, and looked down to find the landing pad. It was not there.
Somehow, the jump I had done nine times before just seemed beyond me on the tenth. I landed with my shins on the box, flipped sideways and performed a really nice judo breakfall. I hopped up quickly and felt my face turn a few shades of red. I finished my last two with more grace than the tenth.
Then we decided to do an exercise that as I watched others do I could hear my old coach saying, “Don’t ever do!”
They would start out with a deadlift, with an over/under grip. Roll it up to their shoulders, flipping their hands over the bar, resting the weight on their diaphragm, and get it to the front of their shoulder and then clean it. OMG! How dangerous! Now the weight they used wasn’t that bad but you never let the weight rest on your gut. Ya just don’t! I had hoped this was not the technique they were taught and found out that it was not. Now I don’t want to say that all Crossfit gyms allow this, but anyone who knows lifting should know that if you do poor technique your asking for injury. I would like to mention it was allowed to continue. It kind of scared me a little.
The last and final exercise I did was simple pushups. No issue there, just pushups till you couldn’t do it anymore. I honestly do not know how many I did. But it was funny how hard I realized I was now breathing.
After the exercises were over many hugged. I got a pat on the back from my partner. She asked how I enjoyed it. All I could really do was shake my head no and give her the ‘wait-a-minute’ finger. After I had caught my breath she asked again. I figured I’d give my critique here which is very similar to what I told her on that day.
Crossfit is one heck of a cardio workout. Will I be back? No, the costs are just too much for having access to what I can get at my regular gym and not have to wait for “class times”. I was aghast at the lack of technique of many of those there and wonder at how many injuries occur from it. Will I do a circuit like it in the future? Well, yes! It gave me a great pump and I did enjoy it, even the box jumps which I fell on my back doing. Is Crossfit for everyone? I would have to say no. Is it better than nothing? Of course it is. Will it get you fit? I think so.
Her last question seemed to stick in my head as I drove home. “Are you sure you won’t be back?” Very sure, I’ll just stick with lifting things up and putting them down. I did get a laugh out of that.
We thank Dwight for his contribution and encourage you to have a look at his business site for graphic design.