Broken Body – CrossFit Week #1

The first week of CrossFit is complete, and I am very sore!  It is amazing how much my muscles have atrophied spending years working in front of a computer.  I am in pretty good aerobic shape and have found out that I am in terrible anaerobic shape.  Here is a description of the workouts this week and the aftermath.


Tuesday – First day in the gym.  The trainer, Russell, walks in and tells us to take off our shoes and get jump ropes.  (Apparently, shoes are making our feet weak according to Russell.  I was worried he was going to tell us to put on loin clothes.  Fortunately he didn’t).  There were seven total people (five guys, two girls) that showed up for this class.  Russell used to be an Army Ranger.  He is short in stature and not bulky big – but looks like a little piece of steel.  He is all business. 


We spent five minutes warming up, alternating between 30 seconds of jump rope and 30 seconds of bear crawl.  It was good to know that I have not lost my jump rope skills from elementary school (the last time I jumped rope).  Russell spent the next 10 minutes teaching us the proper technique for a squat.  Next, we were told to grab medicine balls, the guys got 20 pound balls and the girls got 16 pound balls.  He showed us how to do a drill called Wall Ball.  Standing in front of a wall with the ball at our chest, we had to squat all the way down so that our thigh was below parallel.  Then we had to explode out of the squat and throw the ball up to a target nine feet off the ground on the wall, catch the ball on the decent, and go into the next squat, explode up, throw ball, repeat…  You get the picture.  That was the first half of the exercise; the second half was Ball Slams.  In ball slams, you hold the medicine ball above your head.  Slam the ball down on the ground as you go into a squat posture.  The medicine ball bounces about 3 inches off the ground and you are supposed to catch it on the bounce and raise back up ending with the ball above your head.  Descend, slam, scoop, raise, repeat…


So here is the exercise – 25 Wall Ball repetitions, 25 Ball Slams repetitions, 20, 20, 15, 15, 10, 10, 5, 5.  The exercise was timed.  I started out strong making it through the 25 on both exercise, then I crumbled fast.  The 20s were slow.  The 15s is where the wheels about came off.  I had to break the set into mini-sets of 3 to 5.  I wasn’t able to throw the ball up to the target anymore, so Russell handed me a 16 pound (girl’s) ball to finish the set.  At one point I saw stars and almost puked (I haven’t had that feeling since high school 2-a-day soccer workouts).  I finally finished the 15s, 10s, and 5s.  Overall it took me 21 plus minutes.  I went and laid on the floor in the fetal position.  It took me about five minutes to recover and get out of my catatonic state.  My body hurt, but in a primal, sadistic way it felt good. 


The soreness in my legs, back and shoulders increased over the next two days.  I popped Ibuprofen pills continually (something I almost never do) so that I could function at work. 


Thursday – We warmed up with five minutes on the rowing machine.  This warmed my muscles up well.  Next, Russell spent 10 minutes going over the proper front bar-squat technique.  Then he took us over to the pull-up cage and taught us the technique for kipping pullups.  These pullups require a butterfly swim stroke kick type rhythm.  I got it pretty quick.


So here is the exercise named “Fran” – 21 front bar-squats, 21 kipping pullups, 15, 15, 9, 9.  I had two fifteen pound plates on the bar for a total of 75 pounds.  Of course the exercise was timed.  I finished in 17 plus minutes.  It was painful.  To give you an idea of how weak I am, here are the times for everyone else in the Thursday class.  Kevin (my freak brother) finished in 4:36 with 95 pounds, Jared Ross (first Alabama hockey player to sign a professional NHL contract just last week with the Flyers) finished in 6 plus minute, and Craig Herr (my good friend that used to play professional hockey) finished in 10 plus minutes.  I ended up tearing some of the calluses off the palm of my hands, so now I have three bloody raw spots on my hands.


I learned a few things from these two workouts – 1) I am weak and 2) I am working out with freaks.  I think CrossFit attracts these types. (Have any of you ever challenged a hockey player to anything?)


Saturday – There is no class today, but Kevin suggested a few exercises for me.  He had me do something called “Man-Makers”.  After completing, I renamed then Larry-Breakers.   I carried my 25 pounds dumbbells to one of the soccer fields in the park behind my house to do the exercise.


Here is the exercise – Kevin suggested four sets of the following – twelve Man-makers, one lap around the field.  Timed of course.  Man-makers start with a pushup holding on to the dumbbell.  At the top of the pushup, you get your feet underneath you and lift and jerk the weights to your shoulders, then press them above your head, lower them back to the ground and start the sequence over with another pushup.  They are a lot harder than they sound.  I finished in 16:36.   Shocking my body with by running (well, jogging with a desire to go faster) after anaerobic lifting was different.  


Overall, here is what I learned after three punishing workouts.  Pushing my body in ways I haven’t in the past 15 years feels really good.  You forget the pain of the exercise pretty quickly after you are done.  I was proud of the bruise on my forearm from the medicine ball, my sore muscles reminded me that I didn’t give up on the challenges, and the wounds on my hands are the rookie mistakes that everyone makes starting on something new (and ultimately the things that make you a member of the group).  (This is sounding awefully Fight Club-ish).  The benchmark times for the exercises on both days are slow, but I know I will be stronger and faster when I revisit the exercises in the future.  It feels primal, like this is really what my body was physically created to do – work.  I don’t think God created these incredibly complex vehicles to have them sit in front of TVs and computers and atrophy. 


I challenge you all to get out this week and do something physical that you know will make you a little sore the next day.  Tell me how you feel afterward.



Filed under exercise

11 responses to “Broken Body – CrossFit Week #1

  1. Younger Brother

    Just wait. The “crossfit total” is tomorrow which is your benchmark for stregnth.
    1 rep max of deadlift, squat, and shoulder press

    Our bodies were made to do work and the health of our bodies rely on that “work” to keep things functioning properly. Our DNA as determined by the last 30,000 years was mapped based on the “work” that our bodies had to do to survive. We Americans have achieved a relatively physical “work” free existence only during the past 70 – 100 years or so. We have cars to drive us, grocery stores to feed us, and TV’s to entertain us. No wonder there is such a health care crisis in this country. Do to this lack of “work” our DNA is rebelling and we become fat, atrophied, and prone to disease. (ex. true story.) Just today I saw a woman in the wal-mart parking lot smoking a cigarette while riding in one of the provided shopping scooters. Can anyone say collapse of our health care system? Collapse of US economy?

    In just our small representation of CrossFit (the Huntsville, AL class)…..we have proven that any AGE, any PHYSICAL SKILL, and Status of Health can perform. What we need is a country wide push for exercise again. What makes this program unique and potentially successful for all walks of life is the “primal” connection it makes as you just eluded to in your post.

    I honestly now consider CF and daily exercise to be more important than my health insurance policy.

  2. poppi (younger mother!)

    Are you admitting the “jump rope breaks” we made while trekking across the US to and from Idaho & Montana in the old maroon station wagon when you guys were kids are finally paying off?

    Actually, the reason we stopped every hundred miles to jump was three-fold … which you most likely understand more fully now that you travel with my grand-kids!
    1. to burn off your “sittin’ in the car so long I’m gonna hurt my brother/sister energy” … and
    2. help you form some heart-healthy habits … which didn’t make the least bit of sense to you … then!

    Jump ropes took up less space in the covered wagon than hula-hoops … and offered lots of opportunity for creativity: you used them for more than rope-jumping! Yeah, I know … you were totally embarrassed (it’s part of parent’s job description!) the first few stops to “jump 500” along the road-sides and in gas station parking lots – ’til you realized you were entertaining drivers passing by. Then you really got creative … 😮 … 🙂

    So now, 2 decades later, Poppi is greatful to find you are really jumping your ropes … and not in the back of an old maroon station wagon trying to figure out how use the rope to make a noose! And she is really, really glad you are self-challenging … and doing the holy work/play of using your amazing and magnificent God-gift of body/mind/spirit – wholey – for as hard as our white, anglo culture tries to separate them, we can’t.

    Now for the question … would your CrossFit coach take a’younger-mother’ kayak queen … with at least a little bit of compassion?

  3. James

    Great stuff Larry. I feel a little sore just reading about what you did. Watching the video of the “Fran” exercise scared my a bit. I’ve been running and biking a fair amount, but think I would definitely benefit from a full body workout like this.

    I agree with Kevin. When I look at the pictures from the Roswell Crossfit blog, I don’t see Mr. and Mrs. Olympia, I see everyday people trying to get there bodies back. I love to see people of all shapes and sizes just out being active. You have to start somewhere. We live in a culture that wants you to think there’s a magic pill, or some shortcut to get where you want to go. You want to save money, don’t spend more than you make, you want to lose weight, eat less than you burn, and you want to put on some muscle, then get out there and do some manmakers.

    Keep us posted on the progress. Can’t wait to see you in a month. Maybe I won’t recognize you.

  4. Will

    I am writting this from my handheld. Today was my first class. I was unable to finish all the stations, I got about half way and had to stop. I hurt in spots I didn’t know I had. As sick as I feel 6 hours later it was fun; kinda. I will be back and my goal at this point is just to finish all the stations.

  5. sigmugi

    Kevin, Nice post. I agree, our country could use a daily PE class. Internal drive and motivation is a beautiful thing. I love seeing that in people. It is very inspirational to see someone pushing themselves whether it be working out, painting, managing a startup, Pushing a social cause, … It is also fun working out with you.

  6. sigmugi

    Mom, yes, I still remember the days of jumping rope. Most of my memories are from elementary school jump-rope-athon in PE. I miss the old maroon station wagon. Ah, the good ole days of riding in the very back with no seat belt traveling across the country. I never thought about how our culture tries to separate mind/body/spirit. Pretty clear in some ways now that I think about it. And in response to your question about CrossFit for mothers, I’m sure Russel would torture you like he tortures the rest of us.

  7. sigmugi

    James, watching me do ‘Fran’ (wow, that’s a bit wierd to say) would entertain you, not intimidate you. It took me over 16 minutes. I was grunting like Serena Williams on the tennis court trying to finish (in a masculine sorta way, but same idea). I think you should do a 90 days at the Roswell CrossFit. Don’t worry, you will recognize me. I should post my ‘fat’ before pictures on here for a laugh.

  8. sigmugi

    Will, Keep it up, man. Reclaiming your body is hard when it has been running itself for so many years. Today was pretty extreme. You did fine. I hope to see you Thursday morning!

    ps. Take lots of advil and jog a little tomorrow to get the lactic acid out of your legs.

  9. Jason

    I survived day two (in a row) but am limping and grunting as I walk around the office. Actually, considering what I’ve been through, the fact that I’m moving may be an accomplishment. I am so glad to have friends invite me to participate in something so horrific that is so beneficial. For some reason, each day after the initial shock and pain subsides, my brain asks “when can we go back?” It absolutely is mind over matter and I would challenge anyone to try it for even just a day – you won’t regret it. One bit of advice, skip classes with Kevin; they seem to be much harder. They will motivate the heck out of you, but they are harder. Thanks to everyone for your support in class!

  10. Allison

    Oh. My. Word. This makes 45 minutes of spin (with weights) topped off with intense abs sound like child’s play. Where is this event offered and can anyone sign up – I am a sucker for this kind of punishment, I mean exercise! Good job to you for taking on the challenge. Feeling sore is a sign of working hard – and it truly is a great feeling to be a little stiff and rugged after such a work out!


  11. Jason

    Matrix on Leeman Ferry across from the Iceplex. Anyone can join – T/TR at 6AM/ MWF at 11:30AM and M-TR at 6PM. First week is free, except for the pain.

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