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.