If you've read this site for any reasonable amount of time, you've probably picked up on the series of references to CrossFit. I've mentioned having several friends who are avid Crossfitters and have been gently (and sometimes not-so-gently) selling me on how much fun it would be to join them for a workout (or "WOD" in CrossFit vernacular). Between my teaching schedule and work travels taking me out of town, finding the right day and time has been a battle for several months.
Finally, this past Saturday the stars aligned correctly and I made the appointment to join my friends Howie, Jill, and Jenneane at their gym, CrossFit Charlotte for my first ever WOD.
For background context, Howie (pictured above man-handling some Dead Lifts), Jill, Jenneane, and their brother Joe are all related and are part of the larger group I consider to be All-Star Alumni of my athletic conditioning classes. We met there originally, and they have now graduated on to bigger and better things. It may surprise people when they hear me applaud athletes and friends for "passing through" my classes at the Y onto new challenges after a few months, but that should be the goal of everyone who trains, to continually try new things and advance to new fitness levels.
Anyways, after solidifying plans on Friday there was no backing out of joining them this time. Most Crossfit gyms post the WOD (acronym for "Workout of the Day") the night before, so I was able to go to sleep with somewhat of an idea as to what I'd be in for. As I've mentioned in previous posts, I have been training for several months in-preparation for this day.
As seen above, the WOD featured as many rounds as possible ("AMRAP") in 20 minutes of the following:
- 5 Clean & Jerks (Prescribed weights: Men 135lbs, Women 95lbs)
- 10 Pullups
- 15 Overhead Lunges (Rx weights: Men 45lbs, Women 25lbs)
I mention the prescribed weights, because one aspect of CrossFit I was not aware is that the weights are all scaleable. Not everyone in the gym is as diesel as Howie, so everyone could bump their weights down to whatever amount is managable for their body type or skill level.
I ended up finishing with 6 rounds plus 8 reps (5 Clean & Jerks, 3 Pullups) as the 20 minute period expired. I made quite a few beginner's mistakes, which I suppose is to be expected. For one, I started the period with mis-matched weights on each end of the bar, which is inexcusable stupidity for someone who has been weightraining since they were 14 years old. My first few Clean & Jerks felt awkward and unbalanced, then after two rounds of constantly adjusting my grip and altering my foot stance, I realized I had a 25 on one side and a 35 on the other side.
My form in kipping pullups (according to the Coach) was good for a first-timer, but mid-way through the WOD once my shoulders and forearms began to tremble and burn, form went south.
Beginner mistake #2 was not using enough hand chalk for grip. I've never been the type of person who likes making the same mistake twice, so after ripping open both palms (see graphic photo) I'll probably be either using more tape, or investing in some of the hand grips that gymnasts use.
We finished the WOD by heading outside for 10 hill sprints, which as sadistic as this sounds, took me back to the memories of football conditioning, and was a fun way to end the morning (again, in the sadistic sense).
I've made my feelings about CrossFit fairly well-known on this site so I won't bore by repeating once again. After finally taking my friends up on their invite however I truly do "get it" and see why so many people have been swept up by this fitness wave. Obviously every gym is different, and each has their own "vibe", but the atmosphere at CrossFit Charlotte was great. A tough, competitive atmosphere that definitely made you realize you were in for a battle, however everyone was encouraging and positive.
There was also a big emphasis on form and teaching, which is another of the widely-held drawbacks of CrossFit among the masses. It's true that Olympic-style lifts can be dangerous for those with limited experience, so qualified teaching and coaching is an absolute mandatory. The coaches at CF Charlotte took special attention to any of the "first timers" prior to the WOD.
We also spent a solid amount of time on warm-up and joint mobility exercises beforehand, which anyone who takes my classes can attest that I emphasize as well.
Howie, Jill, and Jenneane always joke that I will soon be drinking the "CrossFit Kool Aid"...(as soon as the raw skin on my palms heal) they might be right.
He's much calmer than during yesterday's WOD, but here's an old video introduction with Coach Andy Hendel of CrossFit Charlotte as he first opened the facility: