December 31, 2012: It’s that time of year when everyone makes resolutions to get in shape and lose weight. How much are you willing to do to achieve that goal? Well, I’m willing to travel approximately 100 miles a day to work out. In October 2012 I even purchased a new car that gets better gas mileage to make that commute more affordable (anybody need a 2006 Nissan Pathfinder??). The reason that I’m willing to make those types of sacrifices is that CrossFit works. I’m addicted and I love it!
CrossFit was something that I have wanted to do for several years – but life and circumstances kept getting in the way – there wasn’t an affiliate where I live, knee surgery, etc. But I had wanted it for so long that six months ago I decided that at the age of 41, it was now or never. Geography brought me to CrossFit Hammond – I considered Hattiesburg, MS; Zachary, LA; and Jackson, MS; but Hammond was the closest by about 10-15 minutes. My family and friends thought I was crazy to drive 50 minutes one way to work out, but I decided to ignore their concerns and give it a try. I was pretty apprehensive on my first visit – but I went on a Saturday – did the intro workout with Heather Weaver and was hooked. I signed up the following Monday, July 2, 2012.
That first Saturday I did my first handstand push up with bands. Since then, I’ve added so many items to the list of “Things I Can Do”, there is no way to list them all. Here are some highlights though: double unders, 200# deadlift, climb a 15’ rope, knees to elbows, jump on top of a 20” box, and execute a clean properly. And this was just in SIX months. Also – I didn’t work on those specific exercises everyday (except for the double unders – but that’s a whole other topic). In CrossFit, each day brings a new exercise or combination of exercises. In my previous life at a regular gym, I could do the same weight workout for months – or until I became bored out of my mind and begged a trainer to create another one for me. CrossFit proves that you don’t have to work on an exercise to the point of boredom to get fit and improve as an athlete (and we are ALL athletes) – constantly varied functional movements will improve EVERYTHING, not just the movement you are working on at that specific moment in time.
And in CrossFit it does not matter what your fitness/skill level is when you begin. Every WOD (workout of the day) is infinitely scalable to your ability. I’ve only done one RXed (prescribed – or as written) WOD in the six months I’ve been at CFH. But believe me, I have exerted just as much energy to complete my scaled version of any WOD as the people that did it RXed. And age doesn’t matter either. I’m 41 – which doesn’t make me the oldest, but I’m definitely no spring chicken. And there is a couple in their seventies that work out at CFH every day.
Another wonderful aspect of CrossFit is the community. I did not know one person at CFH prior to six months ago. Now I have so many great friends and have shared some really great times with them. We all support each other during each WOD. My first regular WOD was a strength workout (I think back squats) followed by a 2500 meter row. I had only rowed two times in my entire life before that day, and never for more than 300 meters. I had my first experience with “Pukey the Clown” and the strongest desire to just quit. Some guy (I have no idea who it was, being out of breath and nauseous will play tricks on your memory) stayed with me and encouraged me, telling me that I could finish this WOD. Without that person, I’m not sure that I would have ever stepped foot in CFH again – that 2500 meters was brutal – but hearing that person, who didn’t know me, had never seen me before, but knew that I could finish that WOD, was the one of the most wonderful things ever. And it’s not just that one person – there is ALWAYS someone to encourage you, help you out, or share your pain. Another one of my great CrossFit moments is the first time that I was able to help/encourage someone. I doubt I made the same impact as that first person that helped me, but it’s a great feeling to be able to encourage someone else!
One last topic – challenges. I have discovered that CrossFitters love to do challenges. In the six months I’ve been at CFH we have done a wall ball challenge – guys against the girls – and the RX Jump Ropes & Disposable Heroes Project (ask Brad for more info on that organization) 100 Day Double Under Challenge. And if you are on any social networking page that caters to CrossFitters you will see a multitude of challenges (paleo, burpees, pull ups, etc.) going on all the time. For the double under challenge, on Day 1, you did one double under. On Day 2, you did two double unders. And for those that don’t know, a double under is when you are jumping rope and the rope passes under your feet two times during each jump. On September 10, 2012, I could not do one double under. On September 11th, it took me 15 minutes to get my first double under. During the 98 other days (Sept 12th – Dec 18th) it took less time to get the first one each day, and I added doubles in between singles, and then consecutive doubles. As of Dec 19th, I can do 20 consecutive double unders AND completed 100 doubles in a WOD! Just proves that anything is possible – it just takes commitment and perseverance! Pull-ups are next! And after that, who knows. In CrossFit there is always something new to work on!
One thing that I didn’t do, that I would strongly encourage is to take pictures and measurements – but throw your scale out! I really wish I had some way to quantify (other than my new abilities) what CrossFit has done for my body. So, if you decide to give CrossFit a try – make sure that you document your present body so you can impress yourself with your progress in a few months!