New Year, Clean Slate

I finally quit making excuses and went back to the gym this year after a 2+ year break. My legitimate excuse was financial, CrossFit memberships are now $175/mo. What?!?!? Yep, and worth every penny. For those of you not familiar with CrossFit, it’s a pretty brutal workout program conducted on the hour in groups. A personal trainer is involved with each group, so this is nothing like 24hr Fitness and the like.

On that note, my uncle was a long time avid weightlifter. He told me a while back that he was having pain issues due to working out on the Nautilus style machines. The reason is that the machines do not have the same pivot points as your body as they are pretty much one-size-fits-all. He recommended that I stick with free weights. As luck would have it, the only machine in CrossFit is a rowing machine. Everything else is weights, racks (pullups, bar dips, etc), ropes, and other misc stuff.

The great part about CrossFit is, all you have to do is show up. You have no idea what the workout is until you get there, and you are done in an hour. The current program I’m in at in Santa Cruz starts with a warmup routine. Usually a 400m run or 500m-750m row, followed by some “turf work” (various random movements up and down a 30 yard strip of Astroturf, marked much like a football field), and then stretching using a piece of PVC Pipe (Air Squats, Shoulder “Dislocates”, and “Good Mornings”).

After the warmup, we do a strength element. It’s usually pretty chill weight lifting, 15-20 minutes of doing one exercise set. Again totally random, usually a number of rounds of a multi rep exercise. Then comes the workout. There are usually three exercises we will do, involving weightlifting, gymnastics, and cardio. For example we recently did 5 rounds of exercises with a decending number of reps for each round for time.

  • 15-12-9-6-3 reps of Hang Power Clean
  • 15-12-9-6-3 reps of Bar Dips
  • 20-20-20-20-20 reps of Air Squats

It is intense, but it’s over quickly. Well it took me 16:07 to complete this one, and I’m usually last to finish, being new and all. But this raises a very important point. It’s not a competition. The only person I am challenging is myself. The trainers don’t yell at you all Drill Sargent like, but they do watch everyone and commend them on movements that are done correctly, and they are there to correct you when you are doing them wrong. It’s quite easy to gain respect for these trainers, these mentors, and it makes you want to push yourself.

Another important point is that no one is pushing you to lift too much. I think everyone agrees that it’s more important to do these movements correctly, and most important safely, than to try to lift as much as you can. Once you are able to do the movements right, the trainers will encourage you to work your way up to a more challenging weight, but never in a forceful way. They are also quick to point out when you aren’t able to manage the weight you chose.

In a way this is like a boot camp, except you are your own Drill Sargent. I just like the fact that I don’t have to think about what to do, I just show up and it’s all laid out for me. Much better than paying tax to 24hr Fitness, and doing unproductive exercise because you just don’t know what to do. CrossFit is a good value in between a regular gym membership, and paying for private training sessions at $75-$100 each. And CrossFit isn’t just for young people, old people are doing it to. People way older than me…

I started on January 2nd at 292.6 lbs. 13 days of CrossFit later and I’m at 282.0 lbs, right where I was before the holidays. I did quit drinking for the month of January again this year, and I’m sure that’s helping me stay motivated and get up at 6am every morning.

Well, time will tell how I do this year with my return to CrossFit…