It’s been a good month for me. For the first time since Mac and I started Get Fit Slowly, things seem to be firing on all cylinders. I’m eating well — I’m following the Primal Blueprint diet, though I’m going to modify it to include whole grains and beans at the end of the month — and I’m exercising almost daily.
Later in May, I’ll begin biking in earnest to prepare for September’s Cycle Oregon week-long tour of the state. For now, however, I’ve focused on incorporating more walking into my daily life, and, especially, learning the joys of Crossfit.
For those of you unfamiliar, Crossfit is an exercise regimen designed to emphasize “functional movements”. It’s not just lifting weights to work isolated muscles on a gym machine, but big lifts, and plenty of other exercises, too. One day, for example, you might flip giant honking tires end over end. Another day, you might haul sandbags for 50 meters. Meanwhile, there are lots of body-weight exercises and even a little cardio. And through it all, there’s that dreaded “muscle confusion”. That is, you might do squats or lunges, and follow them with a 200 meter run — then repeat that five or ten times. It’s tough! Your muscles really do feel confused.
Every morning, there’s a workout-of-the-day posted to the official site, and individual gyms might their own workouts-of-the-day. The workouts are varied; you never know what you’ll do from one day to the next. (In the six weeks I’ve been going, I don’t think we’ve ever repeated a workout.)
Many folks are wary of Crossfit because they feel like the practitioners are hard-core. It’s true that some people are intense about their Crossfit workouts, but I’ve found that a lot of regular joes like me are in the program, too. In fact, at the gym I go to, there are men and women of all ages and fitness levels. The classes at my gym are small (usually three to five participants, and never more than ten), and everyone is supportive of the others in the group, no matter what they can do and how much they can lift.
Though Crossfit isn’t all about lifting weights, there’s certainly a lot of lifting involved. Because there’s so much lifting, my gym (and many others, I think) offers a Crossfit foundations class designed to teach proper lifting form and technique.
During April, I took my gym’s foundations class, which took place three evenings a week. I learned how to squat, how to deadlift, how to clean and jerk, and so on. And we had our own modified workouts-of-the-day for beginners.
At the first class session, for example, our workout comprised:
- A 200 meter run
- Three rounds (15 reps each first round, 12 reps second round, and 9 reps third round):
- squats (without weight)
- push-ups (which I did from the knees)
- body rows (which are a modified, easier pull-up)
- A 200 meter run
As with many Crossfit workouts, we measured how long it took to complete the entire workout. My time wasn’t very good. It took me 14 minutes 13 seconds, and I felt nauseated afterward.
But over the next few weeks, my fitness improved. On the final day of the introductory class, we repeated the workout. I finished in 8 minutes 52 seconds, trimming 5:21 from my first attempt. Plus, I didn’t feel sick.
Since completing the intro program, I’ve been waking up at 5:30 every morning to join the 6:30 class, Monday through Thursday. I’m doing things I never thought were possible, and it feels great. I’m lifting weights, doing squats and push-ups, and even learning how to do pull-ups! (I’m doing weight-assisted pull-ups right now, but hey — I’ll get there.)
The best part? I actually look forward to my workouts instead of dreading the “same ol’ same ol’”.
Now that I’m moving my body, I’ve begun to focus on nutrition. I’ve been following the Primal Blueprint version of the paleolithic diet. I’m skeptical of it, to be honest (I think it’s dogmatic about some pseudo-scientific stuff), but am giving it a chance. But that’s a topic for another day. Right now? I need to go exercise.