the spaz of fitness has arrived

Thinking Outside the Box

In General, Training on March 6, 2013 at 1:18 pm

Aryan Barto is a very chill, very enlightened, very large titan of CrossFit awesome.

I have returned from Houston– to the land of too much work and insufficient time, but one populated by enough wonderful WODpals that it’s all worthwhile. The trip was wonderful, rejuvenating, and everything I need to reinvigorate me for my work, my work outs, and my life in general. While I was in Houston, the Cookie Monster took me to Behemoth CrossFit — the gym owned and run by the Barto brothers. Unfortunately, Aja Barto was out of town to represent Rogue at the Arnold Classic, but I got to meet Aryan Barto, who was just exemplary of everything I love about the CrossFit community– how willing everyone is to embrace newcomers, how humble and down-to-earth even the elite athletes are, how they dedicate their lives to CrossFit out of a very human impulse to just reach out and help others. I was rather lucky that the workout of the day was bodyweight-centric (a partner AMRAP involving kettlebell swings, box jumps, burpees, and dumbbell shoulder-to-overhead), so obviously the Jomad was comfortably in her element for the metcon. However, there were many things that Behemoth also conducted differently– some of which I’d love to borrow and implement as a coach someday.

Apparently, Saturdays at Behemoth are dedicated to partner WODs and team-building activities. I love that. I love that this is a day about the collective, about getting to know one another as much as it is about improving yourself. Behemoth is a bit quirky in that its facility is housed by a larger, multisport warehouse. This means that their “warm-up” consisted of shooting hoops, and playing “knockout” (which I haven’t played since… possibly elementary school?). But in the spirit of all things CrossFit, they smiled at me goodnaturedly when I bumbled through the rules, and they patiently explained to me how to play. The workout of the day was actually a commemoration of two members’ birthdays. Apparently two individuals were celebrating their dates of birth this week, and they each named their favorite and least favorite movement, and Aja compiled them into an AMRAP. The equipment was a bit new to me– the box was a little lower, the kettlebell lighter than the one I would have chosen. I only ever WOD with dumbbells while at home, so that movement was new, but the spirit of the workout felt familiar. The members of Behemoth reminded me a lot of the community we have at Lionheart– where everyone wishes you well, everyone’s pushing to his or her individual limits and willing you to do the same. There’s no allowance for ego or petty competition. It’s about bettering yourself while contributing to the whole. I enjoyed it a lot. Poor CM (Cookie Monster) had to put up with a bouncy Jo for the rest of the morning as I rode that adrenaline rush.

Anyway… I think there’s so much potential in CrossFit. It can be so much more than a sport. It’s a perspective– a way of seeing and living life that celebrates and enjoys physical wellness. The Saturday class at Behemoth is not about putting up the most rounds or getting the fastest time on the board (there was no board); it just seemed like a group of buddies getting together for a a bit of sweat, hard work and a good time.

Though Lionheart gained way too many new perks by moving to its new facility, I do regret that we no longer have the space to play dodgeball there– that was a fantastic way to gather our community and just hang out for a small chunk of the weekend. I’d like to think of more opportunities to “think outside the box” though, and find more creative ways to engage with one another. I’m also reminded of the weightlifting classes at East Valley CrossFit– an hour and a half of time when members just came in, and there was a series of lifts on the board, but people moved at their own pace, with plenty of rest, and coaches walked around to troubleshoot technique and form. Other CrossFit gyms offer focused classes on gymnastics or endurance. I would personally like to improve my kettlebell skills and hope to visit a gym sometime that has specialty classes for that– or a facility that specializes in kettlebells. Anyway, there are just unique ways to focus and play. The other thing is– it can be that– PLAY. Adopting fitness as a lifestyle extends way outside the gym itself. You can go hiking and explore nearby landmarks. You can meet up with a buddy to shoot hoops or go for a bike ride. Unfortunately, I was laden with a bunch of last-minute assignments before I left for Houston. The Cookie Monster was wonderfully accommodating and put up with me having to mutter at my computer all weekend, but we also took a quit 3-minute break for a double-under race. Perhaps if I ask sweetly, next time I can coerce him into a burpee-off ;).

The first workout of this year’s Open will be announced in less than seven hours. I’m all for the competitive spirit of the Games, but let’s also approach this season with the reminder that this is a sport fueled by camaraderie. My favorite part of watching the Games is seeing how the CrossFit elite cheer one another to the end. It was inspiring last year to see each competitor drop from the last pull-up after a brutal weekend of physical activity, after a nightmarish cluster of Elizabeth, Isabel, and Fran… and still every stay on the field, applauding each competitor until every last one finished.

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