the spaz of fitness has arrived

Made to Order

In Rhetoric, Training, WOD, Writing on April 8, 2012 at 12:05 pm

A confession: as convenient as it is to defer to greater authorities and follow gym programming, I’m also fond of designing my own workouts. It should come as no surprise to… well, anyone, that– with my obsessive tendencies– I  delight in plotting my own WODs. I think we’re fortunate in that our gym exposes us to a lot of different, knowledgeable trainers with a wide range of expertise. We witness diverse training programs and get to experience the upsides and downsides to each approach. Over time, I’ve developed an understanding of rep schemes and exercise configurations that keep me motivated, that work a synchronous set of muscle groups, and that challenge me but don’t exhaust me to the point of overexertion. I also like the adaptability of CrossFit so that, when I go on vacation, I can concoct a quick workout that suits my surroundings. For example, when I went to Chicago for a writers’ conference, I was disappointed to discover that my hotel charged $25/day for gym use. Instead of using the gym, I spent one morning running ten flights of stairs, with ten body builders on each landing. Another day involved hotel-room pistols and handstand pushups in the space I could clear between the heater and the bed. Perhaps just to spite them, I also took my jump rope and did double-unders outside the glass doors of their fancy shmancy gym. The receptionist shot me dirty looks; I smiled. Each of these workouts cost nothing, required no equipment (except for the rope), were fun, and took less than fifteen minutes to complete– perfect for squeezing into my conference schedule. Of course, given the choice, I’d still rather workout at the box. I miss my barbells and slam balls and ab mats and all other such toys– and, in particular, I miss working out among people, but now and then life gets in the way. Like today! I’m told that it’s kind of a big deal. Something about bunnies and chocolate eggs, right?*

The box was closed for Easter and, besides, I hope to finish revising the second half of my novel today (perhaps dreaming too big), so I woke just wanting a quick workout, something that got my heart moving, and something with a strength emphasis. As much as I enjoy participating in the CrossFit classes, another bonus of getting to design my workkouts is that they’re obviously customized to my needs and how my body feels at that exact moment. Because yesterday’s WOD was leg-heavy (“Wilmot” : 6 rounds of 50 air squats, 25 dips), I wanted something that worked my upper body. Because I’m concerned about gaining strength more than metabolic conditioning, I wanted something that wore down my muscles faster than my lungs. And, because I felt like I’ve neglected my core lately, I wanted something that worked my midline. So, today’s impromptu WOD:


Dumbell push-presses (strength)

Toes-to-Bar (midline)

Burpees (… because, well… duh)

I finished out with some planks, cooked breakfast, and went to Wegman’s– whereupon I was reminded of why one shouldn’t grocery shop after CrossFitting, even after breakfast. If you’re looking for eggs, avocados, or sweet potatoes in Central PA, don’t bother. I HAVE THEM ALL.

I would, however, like to throw a question out there. I’m fairly certain that I’ll be gym-less for about 3 and a half weeks from mid May to mid June. During that time, I’ll be hopping about Taiwan (can’t explain how much I’m looking forward to this) and stopping back in my hometown, Phoenix, before returning to Pennsylvania. I actually hope to visit a gym in Taipei that has kettlebell classes and wall balls and the like. It’s the closest thing to a CrossFit gym in Taiwan that I could find. However, their website, interestingly enough, discusses how they don’t conduct “traditional” CrossFit workouts (particularly any with olympic lifts, or powerlifts, I think) because Asian culture resists such a strength emphasis.** The cultural impact on the public conception of health and fitness is something I’ll be evaluating during my PhD studies (which I’ll begin next fall, after finishing my MFA in creative writing…)*** But anyway, besides the probably single visit to Formosa Fitness (during which I hope to speak with the owner in service of my dissertation research), I probably won’t have access to anything with… weights. It’s not the biggest deal. I don’t really intend to spend much of my vacation/travel time working out anyway, but I’m sure I’ll want to do the occasional W OD. While I can think of and design an endless series of metcons involving burpees and sprints and “box” jumps and double-unders, I wonder if I could still try to maintain somewhat of a strength bias without access to heavy weights. Does anyone have any ideas for how to do strength work with just bodyweight stuff? I think pistols are still taxing enough to work the legs… chest-to-bar chin-ups are also probably good, as well as handstand push-ups and hand-release pushups. I welcome any other suggestions.

Anyway, happy holidays to those of you celebrating today. For me, it’s thesis day… possibly some grading too.


*A point of Jo trivia: My absolute ignorance of most Christian beliefs/traditions is the Achilles heel of my English studies. The extent of my religious upbringing involves a few months of Buddhist temple and meditation during my middle school years. In college, I took Reli 101 in hopes to better my Christian education. (God forgive me) I fell asleep so many times on the Bible, my roommate began waking me with the words: “And Lo! Jo fell asleep.” My apologize to all of Christianity; I mean no disrespect… and should cure myself of my ignorance. So much to learn, so little time.

**This summer, for my independent study on physical/material rhetoric, I’ll need to start a blog to document my progress for my mentor. I may try to link it to this page in some way– on the off chance that a few of you are curious. I’m fascinated by the intersections of cultural values and health, the human body, and rhetorical manifestations of all of the above.

***Completion of my MFA requires that I finish my novel/thesis… which seems less likely the more time I spend blogging about CrossFit 😉

P.S. I think I want to make a poster of that image for my office. New policy: 10 burpees every time you text during my class.

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