Friday, October 23, 2009

My Hot & Sweaty Romance

I am falling head over hills and this romance is one that was quite unexpected. This new love gets me out of bed at 5:30am….to exersize! This post is an introduction to my new beau.

Let me tell you about what I did this morning all before work. I arrived at CrossFit King of Prussia at 6am, some small talk with the 3 other Crossfitters doing the WOD (Work Out of the Day) and then the warm up. The warm up: hi-knees down and back, butt kicks down and back, high kicks down, then a mini WOD. The mini WOD: 5 dumbbell thrusters (basically lifting the dumbbells from chest level to overhead, sprint mid-box(the box is what CrossFitter’s call their gyms), 5 push-ups, sprint to the end of the box, 10 jumps with the jump rope and sprint all the way back to the other side of the box…repeat three times. Yes, that is just the warm up!

The warm up was followed up by instruction by “the coach” about what we will be doing and what proper form we will need to use to be safe and get the most out of the WOD. The first exersize in today’s WOD, box jumps (literally jumping both feet onto a box). I have been afraid and/or unable to jump up onto an actual box to this point. Instead, I have been using weights piled to about 8 inches. As the coach was instructing I looked over at the 13inch box (the smallest) and thought, maybe? I tried a few times but was too scared. As I piled the weights to use for my box jumps, I decided to try to add an extra weight making the pile about 12 inches high. I easily jumped on top of the pile. I thought, what’s another inch? I walked over to that 13 inch box and jumped…and landed it! Sweet… progress!

On to the actual WOD.  First 21 box jumps…then 21 65lb Sumo Dead Lift High Pull (SDLHP) (taking the barbell from the ground and powerfully pulling it up under your chin) finally onto 21 of the dreaded Burpee (Jump to the ground in push up position, touch your body to the ground, jump into a squat, jump up and clap your hands over head) And the burpee is where I hit my first "mental"  wall. As I did my first 5 burpees, I saw the other Crossfitters, speeding far ahead onto the next round. This is place in every workout when I think I don’t think I’ll ever finish. But the coach cheers me on and somehow I keep going…19…20…21! One set down two more to go.  The nex set is 15 reps of each exersize. This set the 13 inch box seems to have grown a bit taller. As I pull 65lbs under my chin, i need to grunt a little to get it up far enough (grunts makes me feel powerful!) Then, on no, more burpees. By now the rest of the class is finished all three sets.  I've got 15 burpees and one more set of 9 reps to go, anf they loom ominously before me. Thankfully the coach encourages me through those 15 Burpees. Finaly the last Set! Back to box Jumps…a little fear sets in about jumping on the box, now that my leg muscles are burning, my heart feels like it is going to explode and I actually feel like I am going to throw-up. The coach sees my hesitation and encourages me in my power and ability and I complete the 9 jumps and then 9 SDLHP. I am in the proverbial “zone”, meditation in movement; nothing exists but the present moment and my body. Only 9 burpees between me and the finish line. Through this round the rest of the class is cheering me on, “nice job, Steph!”, “almost done!”, “you can do this!” This is the point in every WOD where I realize I am actually going to finish! Some how knowing the end is in sight makes me move a little faster. Finally nine burpees later, I collapse onto a 25 inch box (what the other ladies were doing box jumps with). My WOD time: 17 minutes 54 seconds, it felt way longer than that! It is now, in my exhausted, sweat covered body that I feel euphoria, like a drug, an unparalleled sense of accomplishment.

So what exactly is CrossFit? CrossFit is a strength and conditioning fitness methodology created by Greg Glassman in the 1980s. It is a favorite with military and law enforcement agencies. CrossFit it different from other gyms in that there are no fancy machines. It actually often reminds me of gym class (although I tried to block some of those memories!) There are barbells, dumbells, pull-up bars, medicine balls, rings, kettle bells, climbing ropes and rowing machines. The exercises are focused on functional movements (i.e. movements you need in everyday life) and focus on your core. Workouts are high intensity (see above), varied (every day, a new adventure) and scalable to all fitness levels (hope i got that right CrossFit friends). My experience at CrossFitKoP is that it feels more like a community than a gym. You would think with high powered, high intensity fitness going on that there would be a testosterone filled air of competition and prowess. Quite the contrary, everyone is supportive of each other and helps to push each other to be there best. I have not felt in the least unaccepted, even though my fitness level upon start was next to nothing. I give myself props however, for not letting myself get intimidated by it all, which could easily be the case for someone of my starting fitness level. In CrossFit I have found an exersize practice that seems to have been made for me. I look forward to each day I get to go to “the box.”

“Why the heck would I look forward to doing such hard work”, you ask. It is because I am finding out that I am strong and capable of much more than I ever thought I was, in mind and body. It is because for the first time, I am learning to listen to my bodies cues (at this intensity there is no choice). It is because during workouts I experience the exquisite bliss of the present moment (which you might remember, I have decided is my life’s purpose) and it is because each WOD is like a mountain peak I have reached, despite its trials.

So yes, as you can see I am IN LOVE!! And I am whole heartedly at the stage of love, where there is a sense of intoxication. It’s the stage of love, that us married folks especially, remember fondly and maybe even long for. I am eating, sleeping and breathing this love. So is it CrossFit, I’m in love with? Nope. I am without a doubt a devoted fan of CrossFit (I believe I have, as they say, drank the cool-aid) However what I am in love with isn’t a fitness philosophy or a community. I am totally and utterly in love with MYSELF. In love with ME for the very first time and that feels fabulous. It is comparable to falling in love with my husband or my children, but it is uniquely different. It is by far, the most authentic and powerful experience I have ever had. I now know that I am capable of anything. I know that I am whole. I go to CrossFit because I love myself and it helps me to re-experience that love, time and time again!

Wanna know more about CrossFit or my local affiliate CrossfitKoP? Check out the links to the left

Here is a video of a CrossFit work out called "The Filthy Fifty"  I did this workout (with some modifcations), it was one of the hardest yet.  But I finished...39 mins and some seconds!
Click here to see, "The Filthy Fifty" in action!

Click here to read an article from CrossFit Journal, Understanding CrossFit


Dorothy said...

I had a similar experience with today's WOD also. As I watch someone move onto the next round I thought to myself "hurry! you need to catch up!" Then I remembered that I am only competing against myself and should focus on the present (i.e. my rookie SDLHP form).

You definitely leave your heart on your sleeve. I'm really glad you started this blog. You put into words the way I feel.

Dorothy said...

Shoot! Meant Stephanie, not Jen. Apparently I left my brain at the box.

Tom P. said...

GREAT Post. I started down Kop about 4 weeks ago and can totally relate. Think i worked out with you once or twice. Missed the grand opening... way to go on 4th place! See you at the box sometime.

Unknown said...

Very nice post Steph. Well said. See you soon!