the spaz of fitness has arrived

Fitness and Perspective

In General, Training, WOD on August 4, 2012 at 3:25 pm

Because I mentioned this today in conversation, I must follow through and post it on my blog. I attribute this discovery to Madeline at Good Gravy who posted a very articulate response to the Reebok CrossFit commercials that I had blogged about recently. This morning, after 31 Heroes, we were sitting around talking about the many varied forms of fitness, and the different ways in which it can be defined, and I recalled this photo shoot of Olympic athletes. It’s presented here as a reference point for artists, so that they may diversify the body types in their illustrations, but it’s also just a fantastic reminder of how widely fitness can vary, how differently it manifests when we put different demands on our bodies.

It’s funny that CrossFit defines itself as “the sport of fitness,” which I understand– as we’ve incorporated competition, community, and intensity in what we traditionally term the practice of “fitness.” However the actual embodiment of “fitness” is not so easily defined. When the Olympics began, one of the CrossFit clothing companies (RokFit, I believe? But don’t quote me on that) posted a photo of Sarah Robles, currently the strongest female Oly-lifter in the country, and asked the question “Fit or Fat?” which many (including myself) found particularly offensive. For one, they pitted her weight against her fitness as if the two were in opposition with each other. And secondly, I found it troubling that they even questioned the fitness of this immensely dedicated, powerful athlete based on her appearance.

Let’s think about the word for a second: “fitness.” What does it mean to be “fit” for something? To suit, or be appropriate for the occasion. Her occasion is hoisting metric shittons of weight from ground to overhead. And she does it at heavier weights than any other woman in this country. Is she suitable for the task? Fuck yeah.

Speaking of Olympians, I’ve (like everyone else) been glued to my television for London 2012. What I’ve noticed most is the dramatic range of attitudes in different athletes? Did anyone catch the male gymnast from Ireland? He may be the first-ever gymnast from Ireland to participate in the Olympics. Either way, he knew he had no hope of reaching the podium; he knew his single floor routine would be his minute of Olympic glory, and he executed the entire thing like it was a celebration. It didn’t matter if he wobbled or if he skipped forward a step; every inch of his body exuded overwhelming happiness. He was just glad to be there. He’d already won, and the opportunity to perform his sport in front of this audience was his prize.

Then compare that to the top athletes– some of whom fell short of personal expectations. Though I’m rooting for Team USA, I felt a little terrible for d Victoria Komova when she fell to second place during the women’s all-around. The moment those numbers went up, she was instantly crushed. Even on the podium, with a silver medal against her chest, she was in mourning. She’s the second-best gymnast in the world… according to this single competition. She’s earned her place at this global memorialization of sporting and goodwill, and she’s forever etched her name in gymnastics history. But she’s devastated. And I don’t mean to detract from her grief. With how much she’s trained, how hard she’s worked, she’s earned that heartbreak. And I’d be just as broken. But… it’s so easy to lose perspective in a moment like that. With the lifespan of most gymnastics careers, it’s quite possibly her only Olympics, and she wrapped it up with a beautiful floor routine. She’s seventeen years old. When I was her age, I was waiting tables at a sports bar, caffeinating all afternoon/evening beside stacks of history books, and sneaking home at 2:00 in the morning. She should be damn proud… and hopefully she figured that out when the cameras swept away. (Also, if I were one of those athletes, I’d be so tempted to punch the reporters who absolutely must ask “so how do you feel now that you saw four years of hard work go down the drain and you completely disappointed yourself?”)

Anyway, now to today’s WOD.

31 Heroes

AMRAP 31 minutes (As Many Reps As Possible)
8 Thrusters (155/105#)
6 Rope Climbs (15 ft. ascent)
11 Box Jumps (30/24″)

Partner 1 chips away at the movements while Partner 2 runs 400m with a sandbag (45lb/25lb). Our sandbag was 30lbs, but much preferred to the 1pd kettlebell we hauled around last year when we didn’t have any sandbags. Also, at some point we got the sandbags mixed up and I wound up dragging 45lbs around the block. I made the mistake of trying to put it down on the last leg of the run, and pathetically could not hoist it onto my back again.

But the WOD went well. Awesomely, I partnered up with the Mean Machine (who I’m told cursed me out during our last partner WOD– but it’s her own damn fault for picking a non-runner :p). Though we didn’t actively strategize at all, we wound up playing to our strengths. She did all the thrusters (rx’d– what a beast), I wound up with the bulk of the rope climbs (inner-thigh rope burn… I don’t recommend it), and split the box jumps pretty evenly. I’ve mentioned that I love hero WODs, and honestly I really do enjoy the long ones. For some reason, these are the workouts during which I don’t think about the ending, when I’m not wishing or waiting for it to end. I just hit a rhythm and keep going.

For those of you unfamiliar with 31 Heroes and its origins, here’s the website explanation:

This WOD was created specifically to honor the 30 men and one dog that gave their lives for our country on August 6, 2011. It is 31 minutes long—one minute in remembrance of each hero. The rep scheme is 8-6-11—the date of their ultimate sacrifice. Finally, this is a partner WOD. The men who gave their lives were from multiple branches of our military, working together as a team.  In the workout you and your team member will constantly be taking the load from each other providing much needed support and relief. We realize that no physical sacrifice made during a workout can come close to the sacrifice our brave heroes made, but we consider this WOD a CrossFitters ‘moment of silence’. This is how we can honor those that gave all in the name of freedom.

It’s a paltry comparison, but– that story about the Irish gymnast?– this is why I love hero WODs. I may not be able to do everything RX’d (105 thrusters? Someday, I hope…) I may feel like collapsing on the pavement beneath my misbegotten sandbag, but I can’t fail this workout if I’m putting my all into it. It’s not for a personal record, not to affirm anything to myself or others about my fitness. It’s in honor of individuals who gave literally all they could in the name of duty, protecting the comforts and liberties we too often overlook. A perfect way to start the day.

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