Tuesday, November 12, 2013

That One Time I Tried CrossFit

You all know how much I enjoy a good physical challenge. I've done Warrior Dash, Run Amuck, Tough Mudder, Muddy Buddy, Ragnar Relay, I've ran a full marathon, I go indoor rock climbing, I rowed crew, I've done kickboxing, worked with kettle bells...I've done pole. fitness. classes. people. (never fear, it was nothing scandalous. I just can't help myself - it's really fun to twirl, you guys.)

So it only seemed fitting that I also try one of the latest, hottest fitness crazes: CrossFit.

Aka the sport where "you workout one hour, then spend the next 23 hours talking about it..." (to quote my friend Zak.)
So yeah, that's one of the reasons why I hadn't tried it before. It has the reputation of being "cult-like," and all-consuming. The other reason I wasn't jumping to try it? Injuries.

When I hear "CrossFit," I instantly flash to the graphic images a friend posted on Facebook of his blown Achilles after CrossFit. Then I think of my coworker coming to work in a sling because CrossFit had snapped his shoulder out of socket...

So when my friend Adam suggested I join him for a class, I was hesitant. I decide to try it, then immediately get an email from a friend that starts with: "Ok, I'm not saying 'don't do crossfit'....."
She went on to warn me someone she knew nearly died from something called rhabdomyolysis... ...from a CrossFit injury.
*Face Palm*

I head to class anyway, and learn - it's held inside an MMA gym. So not only am I joining the CrossFit cult, but I have to push past blood-thirsty fighters waiting to jump in their ring before I even get to the workout room.

(the smell alone in the MMA part should've been enough to make me turn right around and go home, but alas, I persevered...)

We get to our room - and it's packed. Heavy metal music blaring, bodies all over the room intermingled with equipment I've never seen before, people yelling encouragement to others pumping some of the biggest weights I've ever seen. There are two pregnant women here. Everyone does seem a little obsessed. Dear goodness. This is a cult.

I'm thinking how thankful I am to be here with a friend and not alone -- then we get split up right off the bat. GAH! THIS IS HOW THEY GET YOU. They are separating me from my herd...

They put me with three other ladies who are also new. Everyone walks over to barbell racks where we are to get up under a barbell, do one rep of shoulder presses, then put the barbell back on the rack. And we keep doing that, increasing the weight, until we "fail," meaning we literally can't push it all the way up and lock our arms anymore.

And we are all scrunched up like sardines since there are so many people. My group gets positioned next to -The Boys. And The Boys are raising barbells with giant weights on the end - and they are struggling. It looked something like this:


Except I never saw someone actually crumple to the ground, but I definitely did see them violently shaking at the top of their extension before throwing the giant barbell down. I started practically running in scared circles trying to make sure I didn't end up underneath them.

But then I discover I'm able to lift more weight than half my group, and I immediately start feeling competitive. I hear myself beg my instructor to allow time for me to try  just one more rep with heavier weights.
Oh my gosh. They don't even have to bite my neck, I'm willingly turning myself into a CrossFit vampire not 10 minutes into class...what is wrong with me?! Do they pump Addiction through the air vents here? No wonder people push themselves so hard they get injured all the time...
We moved onto the "WOD" (Workout of the Day- cult speak, clearly. I bet I'd get a tear-stain tattoo on my cheek if I ever complete one successfully. Or at least some kind of honor patch on the back brace I'd inevitably end up in...). It was called "Fran," and I've gotten about three different explanations for why WODs are named after people, so I'm just going to believe that they are named after people who died attempting them.

During the WOD, my group ends up practically laying on the floor under the barbell contraption. Rings had been suspended and we were to pull ourselves up using the rings. But because the class is so packed, we end up smooshed against some of The Boys again. And one of them started doing some type of pull-up move I've never seen before. It was as if he was doing The Worm in mid air. It looked like this:


And he was doing that right above us. Like, I totally watched him nearly kick my partner in the face while she was doing ring pull-up things.

But ... he was fit. And shirtless. And I finally gave up and just blatantly stared at him, analyzing all the body art he had on his torso. (I'm sorry, if you don't want to be unabashedly gawked at, then don't look that good shirtless. The rule is simple.)
And at that mesmerizing moment, I may have been close to becoming a CrossFit convert....
...but then it was my turn to lay on the floor and attempt to pull myself up on those stupid rings and I snapped out of it.

I started by foolishly asking the instructor about "proper form" for these pull ups - HA! I'm surprised he didn't laugh right in my face, because he knew what was about to happen. By my third rep, I was doing any kind of motion I could to get my body anywhere near "off" the floor.. This is how it's supposed to look:

This is more like how mine started to look:

You know how children who don't want to move will just go limp and you try to pull them up off the floor but their heads just lay there in an awkward angle while you tug at their arms from above? That's pretty much what "form" I had at the end holding on to those rings.

At some point, my contact lens slipped off my eye during the last rep. Even my eyeballs were working in this class. I had to walk back out past the MMA testosterone ring again to get to the ladies room to fix it, and that's when I realized

-I could no longer straighten my arms. I was walking like a T-Rex and I couldn't control it.

...I won't be joining a CrossFit gym anytime soon.

I mean, I'm glad I "get" the culture a little bit now, and I did enjoy it, but I think if I decide to join a fitness cult, I'll look for one who's members are just really devoted to time in the steam room, or the juice bar. A Spa cult, really. Until I find one of those, I'll stick to my running.

(just teasing, CrossFitters! Please don't kill me. Because I know you can with your bare hands...)

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