/ exercise

It's More Than Just Exercise

Apparently, it all started two years ago:

Dear Rob,

This confirms your reservation for Beginners' BaseCamp on 4/22/2013
to 5/8/2013.

This event meets Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 6:30am to 7:30am.

I was pretty sure that today was the anniversary of my introduction to that thing called Crossfit, and sure enough, a little digging through my email proved that out. Ya gotta wonder, just a little bit, how I could remember such a thing as this. After all, it's just an excercise gig, right? Just two weeks of showing up at some gym, to try and knock the rust off this old body; to find an outlet for some newfound energy; to get "back in shape". But the thing is, it ended up being a lot more than just exercise.

As far as getting in shape, I didn't really even know what that meant, anymore. I was semi-athletic for a couple years in high school, running around a track and through the woods. I also rode some bikes. But really for the last couple of decades, activity-wise, I'd done little more than sit in front of a computer. Oh, and I used to drink a lot. Like, a whole lot. So when I finally quit drinking, I substituted with candy, and reading, and reviewing my life for a little while. And after a couple months of that, I was up to 205 pounds, unable to sleep, and batshit fucking crazy.

So ostensibly it was about getting in shape, but really it was just out of need to do something. And so two years ago I showed up at a local affiliate in Boulder, CO for my introduction to CrossFit. I was joined by 11 other people of various forms: students, moms, jocks, and computer geeks. We were shown how to squat (turns out I'd end up doing many, many, many more squats in the ensuing years and I still don't do them perfectly). We did a workout: there was running, and push-ups, and sit-ups, and, of course, squats. A couple of rounds of this. I finished last. Fuck.

I came back two days later, mainly because I'd paid for the goddamned classes. We swung some kettlebells and talked about nutrition. A couple days after that, I lifted a barbell and was told of the importance of sleep, which was concident with my newfound desire for it. I started reading about the paleo diet and the benefits of putting butter in your coffee. The latter was definitely something I could get behind.

Over the next few weeks, I attempted to climb a rope, use a rowing machine, do a pull-up, jump rope, and do various weightlifting moves, all with varying degrees of success. I determined my "CrossFit Total", which was the most weight I could lift (the so-called one-rep max, or "1RM") for three tries, at three movements: deadlift, front squat, and strict press. Answer: not much (hardly any).

I was sore all the time (still am); I would come home from the gym some days with a relentless cough that took an hour or so to pass (now that only hapens when we do "Fran"). But I was sensing an awakening. I saw a clear relationship between movement, efficiency, and power. The cobwebs were clearing, too. I read about all these different workouts on "the mainsite" -- the home of CrossFit, where workouts have been posted since 2003 -- and I was struck by the variety of work we were being asked to do. Some days, you'd be lifting heavy stuff, others you'd be running a lot. In between, you'd be asked to climb ropes, or do handstands, or jump on boxes, and all kinds of other shit. Since I'd started going to this place, I hadn't done the same workout twice. There was a lot to learn, and a lot to perfect. It sure as hell wasn't boring. As an added bonus, I was learning to appreciate what I had in my own body, which is a fixer-upper with tremendous potential.

After a couple months, I transfered to a different gym, and it's where I am today, and I can't believe the luck I have. CrossFit Roots is simply an awesome place do learn and do CrossFit. The coaching staff is superb, the facility somehow manages to be large yet modest, and over 400 people call Roots home (and the coaches call us athletes (and treat us like ones)).

In the ensuing years, I've traded some fat for muscle and yet I'm about 20 pounds lighter than I was. I can hop on the bike and go hammer out some miles, or hike a mountain, or run a 5K in about 20 minutes. Like, right now, if need be. But I get the best satisfaction out of just showing up at the gym five times a week, and doing what's on the board, or whatever Ryan the Olympic Weightlifting Coach tells me to do. Occasionaly I get to try the same workout a second or third time (in two years of this stuff, I've yet to do any one workout more than 4 times (and that is awesome)), and revel in the progress. I'll either do things faster, or with more weight on the bar, or less "scaled" in some other way. Inching closer to doing the workouts "as prescribed" is a goal that never goes away, and always keeps things interesting.

In short, I am a new dude since starting CrossFit, and I hope to continue doing it for a really long time.