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Posts Tagged ‘Community’

CrossFit Lawrence: Refuge and Rage

In General, Training on June 4, 2013 at 2:59 pm

People throw around the word “community” a lot lately. Your neighborhood is a “community.” Your classroom is a community. Your workplace would like to be a community. One of the many things I love about Crossfit is that, in this claim—and all claims—it is honest. The CrossFit community is a tangible, palpable, reliable thing. And, fortunately for us, the proliferation of boxes across the country means that the traveling CrossFitter is rarely stranded.

As most of you know, I’m in Kansas for the week for a professional conference. Because I didn’t want to throw away an entire week of training, I spoke with Coach and she programmed a week of travel workouts for me. I emailed Thomas Thatcher, the owner of CrossFit Lawrence, to ask if I could obnoxiously impose and use his facility for my own pre-programed workouts. He responded with two words: “Come rage.” I liked him immediately.

Despite my frequent travels, I still feel a bit of anxiety about visiting new boxes: what if I get in the way? What if I misrepresent my box or my coach? What if I trip over my own two feet again and faceplant on their plyo boxes? Yet always, I feel silly for these thoughts within five minutes of visiting a new box. The coaches always welcome me into their space. The members are friendly and help me find the equipment I need. They don’t judge me, or watch to evaluate how much I lift or how many skills I can perform; they just encourage me to WOD on beside them.

Every time I visit a new box, I also try to take in everything about their procedures, their coaching process, etc… to see what I can smuggle back to my own box. Thatcher runs a fantastic facility. Given: the space is expansive and has more toys than I can name—tires, a full rig, a bouldering wall, kettlebells, and dumbbells, and a yoke. They have indoor and outdoor lifting platforms.

But, more importantly, Thatcher runs with his box with thoughtful attention and an infectious enthusiasm, and just an embracive love of people and movement. The daily workouts are balanced and carefully planned. Today, I witnessed a group warm-up, focused strength and skill work, an intense metcon, and a cool-down—all packed into an hourlong class. Though Thatcher circulates the facility throughout the workout, twirling a PVC, shouting at his athletes, he keeps a critical eye on everything. Between enthusiastic whoops and Kelly Clarkson lyrics, he corrects form and technique and advises athletes on how to scale. He maintains a keen awareness of when athletes need to be spurred on, and when they need a moment to breathe. And somehow within all that, he has the time to visit a back-squatting Jo, to tell her to power through the bar for her last set.

Next week will be my first week of trial-coaching, and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to conduct a few classes. I’ve been working towards this moment since I tripped over my first plyo box—since the first time I dragged my scrawny, asthmatic butt through a 400m run and bruised my collarbone on 50lb cleans. I’ve grown a lot since those hapless days, but I know I still have far to go. I will never stop learning, and I want to apply that education to help others find their own way, perhaps even to save them from some of my mistakes. As a coach, I want to be able to promise my athletes the same things I pledge to the students in my English classes: I will never ask you to do something without knowing concretely why and how it will benefit you. I have done and will continue to do my utmost in self-education and experiential learning so that I can provide you with the most comprehensive understanding of your own plan for self-improvement. We are in this together, and I will not abandon or give up on you. I’ve got your back.

As I become even more of an active member of the CrossFit community, I remain conscious of the ways I can draw from and give back to this world. Regardless of my silly anxieties, I will continue visiting new boxes and putting myself in strange environments to force myself to grow and learn from this newness. I will observe more experienced, more knowledgeable coaches like Thomas. I will eventually become a model from which others can learn. I will provide a refuge for athletes and traveling CrossFitters looking for a place to sneak in a pre-conference WOD. I will add to this network of compassionate trainers and athletes and humans out there that support one another, hundreds of miles from home. Thanks to this very solid, very real community, and Thomas, and the folks at Crossfit Lawrence…  at 6:00am before a full day of professionalization and headache-inducing conversation, I get to listen to the Kansas rain, watch the dawn crest the horizon, bury my thoughts beneath the barbell… and rage.

Blessings Small and Large

In General, Training on March 25, 2013 at 5:46 pm

In a recent post, I discussed my mixed feelings about participating in the CrossFit Open. I still do not at all regret it, and am enjoying myself. My favorite part of the Open, however, has most certainly been the opportunity to act as a judge for other participants. I so adamantly acquired my Level 1 Certification in March because I wanted to be able to judge during these five weeks, and it’s been a profoundly rewarding experience. I’ve counted reps for firebreathers and for beginner athletes, and the experiences have been equally inspirational– as well as educative. I feel that I can grow as a coach from working with the truly competitive athletes, honing my eye for movement patterns as I count their reps, practicing my motivational abilities as I push them just to their threshold capacity. But working with less competitive members also gives me the chance to analyze hindrances in their movements, and to counsel them through the suck of 150 wall balls. I also feel just so lucky that I get to witness their discoveries of their own inner strength.

For 13.3, I counted reps for a ridiculous robo-boy who could divide his wall balls into sets of 50. I also judged for another, so admirably devoted member, who eventually broke her reps into sets of two. What we love about Crossfit, of course, is that it can humble anyone. Robolegs and Miss Resiliency fought equally hard for each rep. The former needed to slow down. He had the power in his legs and the engine to toss that ball up and down for eons, but he kept missing the target in haste. MR needed the encouragement to get back up– the confidence and faith in herself that she could rise from the bottom of the squat and heave those fourteen pounds back up her chest, even if she had to do it in one or two slow, grinding reps at a time. I’ve witnessed many remarkable things in CrossFit– seeing MR exceed her personal goal of 75 reps for 13.3 definitely ranks high on my list.

At minute 12, when she sank to the ground at the count of 76, I remembered that that’s what the Open is about– an inclusive event for athletes to gather and celebrate their individual levels of fitness, to challenge and exceed personal boundaries, to be inspired by one another’s will and determination. I’m just glad to be a part of it.

I apologize for the lack of posts lately. It’s been a weekend of madness. The Cookie Monster visited and we had a whirlwind weekend of awesome, trying to balance together-time with English-department-time and some quick gym-time as well. The best news? CM is officially becoming part of my State College reality this coming fall! He’ll be starting his MA in English literature (we’ll have to forgive him for not choosing a more exciting specialization– like creative writing or rhetoric… 😉 ). Athletically, CM is my polar opposite– a football veteran with a long history of strength training. So while I have him on burpees and bodyweight-ninja-funness, he can out-squat many of the stronger athletes at our gym. I hope, sometime between all the English homework next year, we’ll be able to learn and grow from one another’s strengths and weaknesses. I’m also counting on him to remind me to return to the English realm every now and again– as I may have to do for him. Regardless, I’m sure it’ll be an adventure, and I’m excited to see where it leads.

That said, I’m behind on just about everything and must return to lesson-planning and rhetoric research and somewhere in there writing a short story. Thank you all for reading. A better update soon, I promise. Until then– lift heavy, love profusely, and run only if something’s chasing you.

So grateful for everything,

– The Jomad

There’s No Crying in the Squat Rack

In General, Training on March 17, 2013 at 8:19 pm

I signed up for the CrossFit Open on the very last day you could submit scores for 13.1. I’ve vacillated all year about whether or not I would participate this year– knowing that I’m not at the level that I’d hoped to be, knowing that this is a hellish time of semester when all my deadlines compound and I should be working on seminar papers as well as preparing my students for their final assignments. But in the end, after seeing so many members of our box participate, knowing how I always want to be an active member of this community, I really couldn’t refrain.

Last year and this year, still, I have conflicted feelings about the Open. The pros and cons seem rather evenly weighed.

Negative: The competitiveness.

I understand that for many sport is about competition, and that this is a positive, driving factor. I also understand that competition does stupid things to otherwise smart people. I, myself, handle athletic competition poorly. The pressure often makes what was once a fun activity more of an anxiety-laden stress-fest. So when I decided to sign up for the Open, I told myself my personal goal for this event would not be numbers or lifts or Rx’d– it would be to participate and enjoy the events, and not give a damn what numbers I or anyone else put up.

My own demons aside, though, I also dislike the way competition brings out the ugliness in people. Has everyone seen the stratospheric score of 420 that Danielle Sidell posted for 13.2? Yes, that’s a high score. Yes, that’s many reps above former champion Iceland Annie. But I’m actually surprised by how readily the CrossFit community attacked Sidell for posting her score. I want to look at this with perspective: Sidell is a seasoned CrossFit athlete. She’s had a solid history in the sport, and has regularly held her own against icons like Gretchen Kittleberger and Christy Phillips. I very much so doubt that she and her gym would make up a score and slap it on the CrossFit page– and even if they were to make up a score, they probably wouldn’t divine one so high that it would beget immediate speculation. I’d admit that… when moving that quickly, she possibly had questionable reps. But look at the demo video with Annie Thorisdottir and Lindsay Valenzuela. I’d say that a number of Annie’s deadlifts don’t look fully extended. If HQ is willing to publicly condone those lifts, then we’ve already admitted this is an imperfect judging system, that some movements will slide. Moreover, at Sidell’s level–barring something catastrophic– she’s going to regionals. Whether she got 420 reps, or 400, or 350, she’s going to land in the top 60 in the region and compete again. So… honestly the shitstorm that people are stirring up is pointless.

But even moving beyond the elite athletes, the way everyday individuals get caught up and overburdened by the competitiveness saddens me. I’ve read about a startling amount of injuries this year– wrist, elbow, and shoulder tweak/pulls from the burpees and snatches in 13.1, and a number of torn achilles from the box jumps in 13.2. Also reports of injuries from beginning athletes that should not have been attempting the shoulder-to-overhead weight. People attempting movements they aren’t prepared to do… in the name of competition– one they oftentimes never had a chance of winning.


Positive: The community

But while some people get caught up in the numbers and scores, there are others that remember that CrossFit thrives by camaraderie– that this was once something built upon inclusiveness. There are boxes like CrossFit Costa Mesa who take this as an opportunity to emphasize participation rather than achievement (see article here)– whose “competition team” is made up of any individual willing to put in the effort rather than only those capable of putting up the numbers. I was also profoundly moved watching Derick Carver’s 13.2 video— not only by his will and determination, just to participate, but by the spirit of enjoyment and enthusiasm I see in his cohort. Don’t get me wrong, I’m blown away by Sam Briggs’s 383-rep video. I so admire and respect the effort that she and other top-tier athletes put into their training. But… I also love that the Games can be about more than just the top performers. It can be about the indominitable spirit of all CrossFitters– what we all share is that ridiculous will to perform burpees and snatches on a Saturday morning. And love it.


For me, personally, I’m happy to say that I’ve stayed out of my own head thus far for the Open. 13.2 was an interesting one for me. My score is not anywhere near competitive. I’m sure most girls can hit that number in their sleep. But the shoulder-to-overhead weight is 75 percent of my mass, and it’s my strict press 1rm. I didn’t realize until after I finished the WOD that… last year, I sat out of a similar workout (12.4, possibly?) because the push presses were 75lbs and I couldn’t clean that weight to my shoulders. So… the fact that I was still holding a bar at the end of those 10 minutes– I’ll take that as a win for this year. Perhaps by this time next year, I’ll worry about the rounds that go with that weight.

But that leads me to another misgiving I’ve had about this year’s Open: the programming. I understand that the weight can only go so low because already Annie and Lindsay were throwing around those 75lbs as if it were a PVC pipe. Fine. But it makes no sense to start the WOD with the shoulder-to-overhead then. They’ve scaled box jump standards this year to allow step-ups. This makes sense for two reasons: 1) torn Achilles happen way too often from top-to-top jumps, and 2) this means that less conditioned athletes can at least complete the movement for a score. However, if they can’t Rx the shoulder-to-overhead weight, they can’t get to the box jumps, to even put up a score. There are discussions on the forums right now by numerous affiliate owners who have women who tried fruitlessly, for ten minutes, to clean 75lbs and wound up with no score. If you can’t post a score for one workout, you drop off the leaderboard and can’t post scores for any of the remaining workouts (at least by last year’s rules). You also cannot post a score of 0. This makes no sense to me. I mean… I, for one, would have been content to do the WODs on the side– to not bother paying HQ $10– and compare my scores on my own. But assuming that people do get a sort of participatory joy of seeing themselves on the leaderboards, why not let them continue playing? Rearrange the workout so that it’s box-jumps, shoulder-to-overhead, deadlifts, so that the poor athletes can at least put up a score of 15 and get their money’s worth and finish out the Open.

I think then at least affiliate owners would feel better encouraging athletes to scale that weight when they need to. Right now, you can’t scale 13.2 without dropping out of the Open. But there are athletes who haven’t cleaned that weight before, who have no business trying to put it overhead… and then we get back to that competitive spirit that drives people to unwise decisions.

So… I guess I’m torn. I’m enjoying the Open. I love the way it brings people together– I love seeing our Box come together and support one another to push through the suck. I love seeing athletes strive beyond their limits– when they are prepared to do so. I just would have also liked to see more consideration from those in charge of the whole thing… if we programmed just a little differently, we might be able to foster more community, more inclusivity. In the end, the true competitors, the firebreathers, will go on to Regionals and the Games and they’ll triumph and we’ll enjoy pigging out in front of our TVs betting on who’s going to break another CrossFit record this year. But until then, why not live these five weeks in the spirit of Derick Carver? For many of us, the podium is not the endgame…

I forget which CrossFit athlete said it, but someone has an excellent quote along the lines of: “I’m not a superstar. I’m just good at exercising. I get paid to be good at exercising.” Those of us that aren’t there? We’re just exercising– and we’re paying to do it. And it’s supposed to be fun and it’s supposed to be stress-relieving, and it’s supposed to be about wellness. So don’t get down about those last five reps that could have been. Sometimes we have bad days. But, if a bad workout is the worst part of your day, you’re already ahead of so many people. I know I’m a drama-queen about my own training all the freaking time. In fact, very shamefully, I have to admit that Scotchy witnessed a terrible moment of mine two weeks ago… when I failed to squat my old 10-rep-max. I’m pretty sure I cried when that bar hit the safety rails. CRIED. In a fucking squat rack. And later that day I just felt freaking silly. I failed to move a certain amount of pounds up and down. Yeah… for me, it means I want to reassess my training and perhaps figure out where I go from there. But… it shouldn’t ruin my day or even my morning. I was uninjured when I walked back out of that squat rack, and I could come back the next day and continue trying to get better. That should be all I need. It’s just exercise 😉

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.

Life’s Small Lessons

In Uncategorized on August 9, 2012 at 10:45 am

The first time I tried a box jump, I collided with the side of a wooden crate and crashed to the ground. The second time I tried a box jump, I scraped my shin. The third time I tried, I carved a seven-inch gash into my leg– which bled for nearly two months. I have a rough history with box jumps. But oddly, my strongest memory of them is a fond one. One morning, very early in the history of our gym, I stopped by during open gym hours to “work on” my box jumps. By this point, my experience had instilled in me such fear that my feet wouldn’t leave the ground no matter how I compelled them to leap. So instead of actually working “box jumps,” two of our coaches had me start from the ground up. They stacked plate upon plate… so that I jumped a couple inches, then maybe six, then nine, eventually building to box height. I remember the patience with which they worked with me. I remember being stunned by their willingness to sacrifice time and effort to help me with such a rudimentary skill. I remember my elation at finally landing my first 16″ jump, then 20″.

We learn a lot from one another in CrossFit, but I think the greatest lessons have nothing to do with how to catch your squat clean or what to eat after your WOD. That morning, after my feet planted square onto the wooden platform, I recognized how much more I could achieve with just a little more confidence. And I learned how much more confidence one could find with the proper encouragement.

This is a week full of goodbyes. By the end of this week, I will have bid farewell to four good friends, all of whom are off to bigger and better things. Last night, we went out as a box to celebrate one last time with two members of our CrossFit community. I am so fortunate to have spent this (too short) time with them, to have witnessed their profound spirits and generosities.

Here’s some of the more memorable lessons they leave me with:

The Mean Machine” (who I think is actually incapable of meanness)

– How to smile like nothing else matters

– How to keep your elbows in when you run

– How to laugh– among friends, and at yourself

– How to look damn good in workout shorts (okay maybe this I learned, but can’t emulate ;p)

– How to remind someone of the strength she’s forgotten

– How to celebrate small blessings

– How to assume the best– of everyone and every situation

– How to go tubing

– How to lift like a (badass) girl

– How to enjoy Magic Mike (okay… I never quite got there, but I tried :p)

– How to strive for your goals, to keep walking when you stagger

– How to care— without reservation, without fear

70’s Bove

– How to bust your ass for your ambitions

– How stretch before snatching

– How to approach everything as a learning opportunity

– How to remain humble, no matter how you excel

– How to excel like a beast

– How to help someone see and celebrate her small victories

-How to execute a climbing rope muscle up (again, can’t emulate… yet)

– How to smell like Abercrombie and Fitch

– How to eat to be 70’s Big

– How to see the athlete in everyone– no matter how scrawny she is when she first tells you she dreams of being a CrossFit coach 😉

Good luck, you two. I’m absolutely certain that you both have the passion and perseverance to find what you want in life. Come back and visit often. We’ll miss you greatly.

Burpees and Small Blessings

In Training, WOD, Writing on July 23, 2012 at 7:00 pm

So I recently discovered CrossFit Games athlete Linsdsey Smith’s website.  I love that so many CrossFitters are active in the online community. I’m even more charmed that so many of them are articulate individuals who come across as compassionate, thoughtful trainers and athletes and friends. In trolling the archives, I ran across a fun post by Lindsey. It was 10:00pm, and Lindsey still hadn’t done a workout. But lucky for her, Rebecca Voigt was around to send her a quick, “no-frills” BURPEE WOD.

The following conversation then transpired between Lindsey and her husband (via gchat):

me:  u there?
webster.m.smith:  yeees
me:  did you workout today?
webster.m.smith:  nope
me:  any desire to do a burpee wod with me in the living room?  becca voigt sent it to me today.  burpees are the only movement, its the rep scheme thats tricky
webster.m.smith:  huh? when?
me tonight…. now…. whenev
webster.m.smith:  what is it?
me:  Burpee Madness
webster.m.smith:  ok living room?
me:  yeah, we can move the ottoman out of the way
me:  ready when you are
webster.m.smith:  ok


The workout is this:
Minute one: 10 Burpees
Minute two: 20 Burpees
Minute three: 5 Burpees
Minute four: 11 Burpees
Minute five: 2 Burpees
Minute six: 18 Burpees
Minute seven: 6 Burpees
Minute eight: 15 Burpees
Minute nine: 4 Burpees
Minute ten: 8 Burpees
Minute eleven: 17 Burpees
Minute twelve: 3 Burpees
Minute thirteen: 13 Burpees
Minute fourteen: 9 Burpees
Minute fifteen: 12 Burpees
Minute sixteen: 14 Burpees
Minute seventeen: 16 Burpees
Minute eighteen: 7 Burpees
Minute nineteen: 19 Burpees
Minute twenty: 1 Burpee

At this point, I quite easily concluded that I’d love to  be Lindsey Smith. Not only would I be a CrossFit Games competitor, I would have randomized burpee WODs impromptu delivered by Becca Voigt, and I could gchat my husband for a 10pm burpee date in the living room. How. Awesome. Is. That? I realize I’ve had a lot of posts about programming and directed, focused programming, and this WOD seems like just a randomized bit of AWESOME, but still… I think I intend to try it sometime– as a tribute to Becca and Lindsey. Maybe even at 10pm in my living room. In PJs.

While I’ll never be a Games competitor, will probably never be on a first name basis with Becca Voigt, and may forever be awaiting my burpee date… I can console myself with one small triumph. Lindsey lists among her goals to one day acquire a master’s… I’m at least the somewhat proud owner of an MFA in creative writing… I mention this because I’m always taken aback by the interesting configurations that different individuals’ dreams and aspirations take. I think it’s an innately human quality to reach for more– which is a good thing. That way, we have goals, we work towards them, we become teachers and writers and athletes and coaches and we continue to influence and inspire others. It’s just so easy (perhaps just for me) to get caught up in what we want and still don’t yet have that we forget what we have achieved. Yeah, becoming a CrossFit coach sometimes seems like an impossible pipe dream– slipping further and further out of reach. I’ve been so busy worrying about this training and starting my PhD and wrapping up my novel, I never took a breath to realize that… I finished my MFA. Ultimately, the degree’s just a sheet of paper in my closet that doesn’t have much bearing on the real world… but for just about 21 years of my life, I dreamt of attending an MFA program, of joining a community of writers, of challenging myself as a writer and discovering topics about which I had something worthwhile to say. And, by so many small miracles, with so much support and encouragement from truly beautiful family and friends and mentors over the years… I did that. And today, I’m grateful for that.

You know what else I’m grateful for?

5 reps of a 185lb deadlift.

Felt good about it. Unfortunately, my limiting factor really seems to be my grip. The bar just about slips from my left hand when I reach the top of the pull. My back felt good throughout the lift, though, which was a relief. But I’m going to try working those farmer’s walks some more… I’ve also decided that I’m going to try participating in more of the box’s regular programming from now on. I’m still sticking with my linear strength program, but I would like to finesse more of the box’s regular WODs into my conditioning work. (This may take some very clever CrossFit planning…) I have several reasons for this. First of all, the programming’s becoming more structured, with each coach designing larger blocks at a time with concrete goals defined in each week. Second of all, I do push harder in the company of other people. And I also miss the guidance of having someone more knowledgeable watching my movements. I also like being able to put my trust in someone else’s programming– the confidence of knowing that someone well-informed and experienced has put a lot of thought into each aspect of this workout.

Today’s WOD:

Skill: False Grip & Hollow BodyWOD:
10 minute AMRAP
-5 Burpee Box Jumps
-10 False Grip Ring Rows
-15 DUCash Out:
25×2 Sit Ups for Time, Rest 3 Min b/w

I loved the way the skills transfer into the actual WOD and the congruence that knits the whole session together. Also, the WOD was a blast. It’s actually a rather rough combination of movements, but each of them work different areas in different ways that I never felt fatigued to a point beyond movement. It was just… enjoyably rough (let’s not pretend CrossFitters don’t have a dose of masochism).*

[*For a more serious discussion on CrossFit masochism, see here]

I officially move on Wednesday, so my apartment’s a disaster right now. I keep discovering useless things I’ve stored away and realizing there’s no point putting them back, but not wanting to “pack” them neatly because I’m moving all of four blocks away and it seems like more effort to wrap everything just to unwrap it all a mile away… Ah well, wish me luck.

Happy Monday, everyone.

Why We CrossFit: Redemption

In General, Training on July 19, 2012 at 3:05 pm

After my last post about the CrossFit 2012 Games commercial, I’d like to append a new one that restores my faith in the CrossFit world. Again Faster, an equipment supply company that caters specifically to CrossFit, has discovered an exponentially better advertising angle. At the 2012 Games, they had a photobooth where they asked people why they CrossFit. Sure there are some facetious answers like this, but also ones like this. I even enjoy shots like this one that involve people simply enjoying and celebrating their fitness. It shows such a fantastic range of athletes, from first-responders to wounded warriors  to kids. This series of images shows CrossFit not as the “hardcore” pursuit of the elite, nor another vanity-driven exercise fad. It’s a way to understand and enjoy our bodies; it’s accessible to people of all backgrounds and fitness levels, and it’s remarkably human.

As disappointed as I am with Reebok’s commercial, I’m glad the actual practitioners of CrossFit have not lost sight of why we do what we do.
Why do I CrossFit?

– After a lifetime with asthma, with IBS, with weight “issues” and general lack of athleticism, it’s allowed me to make peace with my body– to accept its weaknesses and adapt to them, fortify them accordingly. It’s helped me discover my strengths (the oddities that they are– burpees!) and embrace them.

– It’s meditative. Through CrossFit, I’ve come to understand much about my mentality. I’ve learned to recognize when I’m trying to take the easy way out, to analyze why, and to approach the problem from a new angle. I’ve learned the difference between something I can’t do and something I’m afraid to do and I’ve gained confidence in my ability to approach and conquer those fears.

– Through it, I’ve found such a beautiful, encouraging community. From firebreathers to introductory athletes, I’m continually inspired by those around me, and moved by the strength of their will.

– Did I mention burpees?

Anyway… I think my message is that Reebok definitely made a misstep with its commercial, but that doesn’t speak for the CrossFit community itself. And this sport is still doing wonders for its athletes; it’s still empowering individuals inside and outside the box, and hopefully a television ad devised in poor taste isn’t enough to debase all that we are.