Crossfit For Your Life (#1)
Last night, around 8pm, I was at the back of what looks like an abandoned building, in a courtyard with walls decorated with such aesthetically pleasing implements such as a rusty saw, and coils of rope. Objects strewn around me included tarps, pallets, and huge round boulders. I was watching folks, their forearms covered in gooey tree sap, lifting these monster rocks, throwing ’em around, grunting, shivering in the wind, cracking jokes. Then it was my turn. My hands around the freezing stone, squeezing like hell with my forearms, I heaved, thought nothing would happen, and then felt it move, upwards! Where I wanted it to go! And upwards some more, and then up to my chest, and damnit! But I just lifted a 112lb stone, which two months ago I could barely move. A giggle, turning to mad-scientist-worthy guffaw leaves my lips in slightly hysterical ecstasy. Where the hell was I, you ask? Why, the gym.
I know the articles have been slow in coming lately, and I guess I can blame it on the 12 extra hours a week I now spend working out (Although in all honesty, it’s still the 60+ hours I spend doing nothing in front of some machine that flickers images at me). In January, completely unrelated to the whole New Year’s Resolution thing (which I don’t do, because to me New Year’s is when I get drunk with my family and open presents, not a time when people who barely know each other get together and make out and later decide that their lives suck and there is a list of failings they’d like to eradicate), I signed up for CrossFit (I like tangential comments and therefore love parenthesis).
What is CrossFit you ask? Well, you can read about it here, but to summarize: it’s a fitness/nutrition program where you never have to do the same workout twice, are not targeting any specific muscles, but working your entire body to be stronger, faster, and as a byproduct, leaner. You learn about breathing, balance, strength, and focus by lifting weights, trying to sprint while dragging/pushing heavy crap, and jumping/swinging on/off/with/at stuff like your life depends on it. If you are part of a CrossFit gym, then you are also generally surrounded by incredibly cool, supportive people, and have at least one trainer who tailors the program to your abilities and current fitness level, always urging you to do more, and get better, without bringing on injury that comes from overuse and poor technique. The only machine there will be the rowing machine and absolutely no one admires their muscles in a mirror, because usually, there is no mirror, or even necessarily paint on the walls.
In terms of nutrition, mostly Michael Pollan’s line: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants” applies here, although there is a particular diet that is preferred above all others: Paleo, which stands for Paleolithic, and is based on the idea that our bodies did not actually evolve at the same pace as agriculture and our ability to process everything ever with machinery. So it states we should eat what our ancestors ate, who didn’t have livestock, who didn’t know how to bake bread. You can find out more here. I haven’t actually gone all out and eradicated dairy and grains from my diet, and I can’t afford organic meats, but I am definitely taking it under advisement.
What has CrossFit done for me so far? Well, I’ve definitely shed a few extra pounds. Not as many as I’d like, but patience is a virtue. My body is reshaping itself, becoming tighter, a bit more compact, inches migrating from my waist to places where they can be better appreciated by onlookers. My eating regiment is more regular, because I can’t afford to not eat, since I need the energy. I love coming to the gym, and so working out climbed up to the top of the priority totem pole, so I don’t feel like a douche for not going to a gym where I’m paying for membership. Work-related nightmares have given way to much more pleasant dreams of battling zombies with kettlebells. My cardiovascular health has improved and even though I haven’t run in a long time, my mile-per-minute rate is better than it’s been in about a year. It’s much harder to knock me down in the mosh pit, because my balance, and proprioception (knowledge of where the body is in space) in general is no longer that of a boozed up fratboy thinking he can dance. And finally, there is the fact that I get ridiculously happy when something I thought was impossible actually turns out to be not only possible, but already behind me, because I’ve moved on to break through another limitation.
As the #1 in the title implies, this is probably just the beginning and more installments on the topic will appear, eventually.
- Crossfit Forging Elite Fitness – Home of CrossFit online, where you can gather up enough knowledge to start a home gym or decide if CrossFit is something you want to try.
- Crossfit Riverdale – The first gym I’ve ever looked forward to spending time in.
- Paleo Diet Homepage – very barebones, but with a ton of links to resources