Wednesday, November 20, 2013

WOD “Real Life”

CrossFit seems like another world to people that have never been. We speak an odd language to outsiders. Some accuse us of being part of a trend or dismiss us as a fitness cult. But my experience is quite the opposite. While PRs on the board are exciting, what is exhilarating are the moments when all that hard work pays off during everyday life.  On Sunday the Midwest experienced an unseasonable tornado outbreak. A path of destruction was cut across several not-too-far away communities. After we emerged from our basement, the skies brightened and the winds kicked up. Windy days are nothing new to our area – but as my 3 year old said it was a, “windy wind.” Bless her heart, she talks just like her mama!

So what does Sunday’s weather have to do with my fitness journey? It didn’t occur to me until after it was over, but Sunday presented a real life WOD that my coaches would recreate if they could install a wind tunnel at C3. Our area experienced sustained winds of 35 mph for several hours – and during that time there were gusts recorded at 70+ mph. Even though we could hear the wind constantly howling outside and rattling the windows it was fairly peaceful until we started hearing a clanging sound. We inspected the front of the house and discovered the metal siding on our eaves was tearing from the house.

WOD “Real Life” phase 1 – while exposed to the full brunt of the wind, hold ladder while The Hubs (200ish lbs) stands past the rung clearly labeled "Do not pass" to drill the siding back in place. Adding to the challenge, the location the ladder had to be placed on top loose gravel. Good times! But we weren’t finished. It turns out that was just the warm up. While inspecting the rest of the house – we realize the 10 foot swing gate of our privacy fence was breaking. WOD “Real Life” phase 2: push the gate back together and hold forever while The Hubs gathers tools. During the worst of the wind gusts, it took feet planted – full body lean and all upper body strength to keep the gate from collapsing. Initial attempts to reinforce the gate failed. We needed something more substantial. Thanks to an unrelated deck project we happen to have a pile of reclaimed lumber at the back of our property. WOD “Real Life” phase 3 kicks in. I trade off the “hold this and don’t let go” assignment to The Hubs. My newest assignment “wind sprints”. I sprinted to the lumber pile to bring back 2x4s. This was repeated four times. It turns out I can haulass with a gusting tailwind – not so much when that tailwind turns into a headwind while carrying lumber. Luckily we had enough pieces to successfully brace the gate. Then it was time for the mobility portion of WOD “Real Life”. Our pool cover was going to blow off. Challenge – wrap the sides of the pool with pallet wrap all the way to the ground. We literally duck walked around our pool with a spool of pallet wrap too many times to count. I think I would have happily held the gate longer to avoid duck walking one more lap around the pool.

With all the destruction of that day’s weather – I realize I’m so blessed that my biggest worries were a bit of siding, a fence gate and pool cover. The damage isn’t the point of all of this. Being strong enough to be useful during all of those efforts is my real point. And that is exactly the real point of CrossFit. Functional strength isn’t just something achieved inside the box. Where it is incredibly valuable is outside of the box. A personal note to my coaches, please don’t install a wind machine at C3. 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

What’s your number?

Your age, your weight, your pant size, your finances all swirl around you and right or wrong – are part of the equation of how we are defined most of the time. Young or old, fit or fat, rich or poor – these numbers follow us around in our everyday lives and are pretty impossible to escape. Unlike any place or activity I’ve ever experienced, somehow most of these numbers strip away once you walk into CrossFit. People with 30+ year age differences are high-fiving each other. Police officers, doctors and teachers mingle and meld with college students, corporate professionals and housewives. You don’t escape numbers in CrossFit – but the numbers are completely different.

The only numbers that matter are the numbers you set for yourself and are trying to beat. Regardless of if you do scaled WODs or Rx’d – each person has their own approach to get to the end of the WOD. During class you aren’t trying to beat your neighbor – your only competition is yourself. And I think that is the coolest aspect of the personal scaling approach to CrossFit. It is the magic of how a 63 year old can stand next to a 23 year old college athlete and each get a workout that challenges them. 

How do the numbers get set? As you build up to 1 Rep Max of different moves – you start a gradual progression of pushing yourself to grow stronger, row faster and jump further. So what is my number? Recently I’ve enjoyed a few new PRs. Dead Lift went from 123 to 133. Strict Press went from 83 to 88. Push Press went from 98 to 108, and Power Clean went from 103 to 113. 

While I’m pretty excited to be able to chart the progress, what has been more fun for me is seeing the strength outside of the box. I recently helped my husband disassemble our upper deck and reclaimed the lumber for another project – it was fun to be able to surprise him by carrying heavier-than-expected loads of lumber. And ladies, I’ve found the secret of empowerment. Want to know what it is? Sling a sledge hammer! I actually want to find more things to demo because it is just an awesome feeling!