Tuesday, March 3, 2009 by Daniel

A Year of CrossFit

A year or so ago, at the recommendation of somebody from the HST forums, I started CrossFit. I think it's fair to say that it has changed my life in some substantial and surprising ways.

The reason this person recommended CrossFit was because, up until then, my training regimen was somewhat schizophrenic - though in my naivete I didn't know that. The foundation of my weightlifting program was a half-hour introduction to the machines at the Y by the shift trainer and whatever contradictory information I could glean from bodybuilding sites. I had completed about a year of regular workouts in the gym, and didn't have much to show for it. In retrospect, this is not surprising: I wanted muscles like a bodybuilder, but did absolutely nothing "lower body" in the weight room - deadlifts and squats frightened me because I have bad knees, and I figured I was getting enough leg work in my regular long-distance cycling and spinning sessions, which I did frequently. My diet, while healthier than the average American's (what a yardstick), was full of crap supplements. So, like SO many other mis-and-unguided people out there, I was putting forward what I thought was substantial effort and getting little in return.

I lurked the CrossFit national site for a few days before I mustered the guts to actually try a workout. Cindy, I thought, seemed relatively approachable - only 20 minutes long! So I huffed and puffed my way through nine rounds of jumping pullups, half-ROM pushups and half-squats, and after a few minutes of rest, tottered off to spin class. But I was definitely intrigued.

I continued with it for the next month or so, doing three or four workouts a week at the Y, cherry-picking the ones that didn't seem too intimidating and assiduously watching the videos from the site to try and understand the unfamiliar motions, while continuing to spin and take yoga classes. When a friend from spin-class who was also a climber asked why I didn't just take one of the new CrossFit classes down at Ironworks, I couldn't believe my luck. I'd checked out CrossFit Oakland, but they were insanely expensive and I already had two gym memberships - now I could attend the fledgling CrossFit EastBay at no additional cost!

Max and the CFEB community introduced me to a level of intensity that was completely unfamiliar to me. Over the next year, one kettlebell swing at a time, they would push and pull and mold me into a new, stronger and, yes, better person. I will always be grateful.

What about the numbers?
Here are some firsts and lasts - most of which are not actually a year apart, but it gives an idea.

Movement/WODFirst Last
Cindy9 rounds (jumping pullups, half-ROM pushups and squats)13 rounds RX
Fight Gone Bad184 RX239 RX
Helen19:38 (40# swings, gravitron pullups)11:15 RX
Kelly37:00 (14# ball and reduced jumps)33:53 RX
Murph72:00 (gravitron pullups, half-rom pushups)56:56 RX
Diane14:01 (185# DL, pike pushups)10:29 (225# DL, feet in ring)
Filthy Fifty56:1940:14
1RM Squat135190
1RM Press85105
1RM Deadlift200300

My rockclimbing has improved as well. Last April I was a 10b climber, now I can climb 11a. I've also gotten my lead card and started lead-climbing.

Body Composition

One of the things that I really like about CrossFit is its emphasis on performance rather than looks. I stopped caring about getting big muscles and started caring about getting a big muscle-up. However, as embarrassing as it is now, I did come to this from bodybuilding, and still have a bunch of the pictures I took then - including the disappointing "after" pictures that drove me to try CrossFit in the first place. Out of curiosity, I recreated the poses to see what changes had occurred. I'm pretty happy with this. I know Rebecca is. :D

In general, I know that there are more dramatic results out there both in numbers and body comp, but what I have is hard-won, and more substantial than anything else I've ever done. Not too shabby, in my opinion, for a 32-year old vegetarian former couch-potato.

Looking Forward
I'm excited about this year. Although I'm happy with the results from the first year, I feel like I keep figuring out more and more pieces to the puzzle - diet, scheduling, intensity, skills. The last six months were a huge leap over the first six months, so hopefully a year from now I'll have even more reason to be proud. One kettlebell swing at a time...

1 comment:

Rebecca said...

My husband is a total Hottie! :-D Yum.

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