CrossFit: Open Source Fitness

My hands started to tingle. I pushed with my hamstrings and ass to finish another air squat. Thirteen. I bent over and placed my hands on my knees. I could barely breathe. I was getting light-headed. What was going on? I stood up and did another squat. Fourteen. One more. Fifteen. I dropped to my hands and knees. No more.

A couple of minutes passed. I stood up and attempted to stretch. I felt dizzy and had to sit on the ground for a few minutes. I stood up and walked to the open door for some fresh air. It didn’t help. I sat on the plyo boxes for a minute but quickly moved to laying on the ground. This trainer is either worried about me or holding back a laugh. I’m glad no one else is here, because this is embarrassing.

It was October 31st and I had just completed my first CrossFit mini-session with Matt at Survival Fitness. I think it was about a half hour before I was able to leave the gym. When I got home I spent about an hour laying on the couch. My body was exhausted and I felt terrible. But the only thing I could think about was going back on Wednesday for another workout. It couldn’t come soon enough. I was hooked.

So what did I do in that first workout? It started off with a 5 round Tabata circuit of high knees, butt kicks, and mountain climbers to warm-up. If you’ve never heard of Tabata, it’s a form of high intensity interval training which uses 20 seconds of exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest. The warm-up was a piece of cake.

For the workout of the day (WOD), I was to do a circuit of 5 ring rows (instead of pull-ups), 10 push-ups, and 15 air squats. I’d repeat as many rounds as I could in 20 minutes. It sounded easy enough. In CrossFit, this WOD is well-known. It’s called “Cindy” and is one of the benchmark girls. I was only able to complete a measly 3 rounds and 7 minutes hadn’t even passed on the timer.

I met with Matt two more times for mini-sessions. During the second week I went to my first CrossFit class, which only had 2 other people attend. When I looked at the WOD on the whiteboard, I wished I was in another 1-on-1 session with Matt. We were going to do “Murph” which is a one mile run, 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, 300 air squats, and another one mile run. The nice thing about this WOD is you are allowed break up the pull-ups (ring rows as a modification), push-ups, and squats however you like. Yep, you guessed it, breaking them up Cindy-style is usually the way to go. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit terrified.

For the warm-up we did eight Tabata rounds of our choice. I think I switched between high knees, but kicks, and jumping jacks. I felt ok during the run considering I hadn’t run anywhere other than after my hat on the golf course since spring. I finished the mile in 8:20. I wasn’t really worried about that though. I was worried about the middle of the WOD. When the timer hit 45:00 I had completed 13 rounds! I didn’t get to 20 or even start the second mile run, but I couldn’t have been happier. In 7 days my body had made an incredible improvement. I was getting fit and having a blast doing it.

Part of yesterday’s workout (shown to the right) included a mile run as part of the warm-up. I finished in 7:47 today and it was a brutal 45° outside! In 2 weeks I knocked 33 seconds off my time. Each day my endurance is getting better and I’m getting stronger. I feel great!

I’ve run and rode a bike for exercise many times. I’ve done P90X and Insanity. I’ve always gotten bored after a few months and stopped working out. I’m confident I’ve found the holy grail of exercise programs with CrossFit. Each workout is different so I shouldn’t get bored with the repetition found in other programs.

CrossFit in unique in the way it defines fitness (PDF download). It’s all about using functional movements to prepare trainees not only for the unknown but for the unknowable. This type of fitness can prepare an individual for any type of sport. CrossFit is actually known as the sport of fitness.

I’m also enjoying CrossFit so much because it has similarities with other big parts of my life. CrossFit shares some similarities with WordPress, especially with the online community. Some people outside the community actually call it a cult! Each day on crossfit.com you can get the community WOD and share your results in the comments with other athletes around the world. The site shares videos with instructions on how to do all the movements. There’s a wealth of information on the web site and nearly everything is free. The part that’s not free is in the CrossFit Journal which costs $25 a year. Everything is very similar to the open source foundation WordPress is built on.

…de-centralized approach shares some common features with open source software projects and allows best practices to emerge from a variety of approaches…
CrossFit on Wikipedia

CrossFit is also similar to golf because it’s all about improving and beating yourself. All of the WODs are based on completing a workout as fast as possible, doing as many rounds as possible in a period of time, or lifting heavier weights. Everything is measured. In golf, any Joe Nobody can compete in local qualifiers, maybe the sectional qualifier, and have a chance to play in the US Open. The CrossFit Games, which determine the “fittest on Earth”, use a similar system. You can start doing workouts in your garage and end up competing against a world champion. In the 2011 CrossFit Games, the individual male and female winners were awarded $250,000 each! It’s no joke.

When you get down to the roots of CrossFit, it’s all about improving yourself. Working out to get in the best shape possible. Practicing functional fitness to be prepared for anything. Eating right to promote a healthy life and get the most out of each WOD. Helping others in the community.

I’ve been doing CrossFit for 3 weeks now. I’ve read more articles and watched more videos than I can count, attempting to absorb as much as I can. Hopefully I’m still doing a WOD three months from now and three months after that. Follow my workouts at crossfit.nickmomrik.com and let me know if you have any questions. If you’ve been struggling with your exercise routine, look into in. Survive the first workout and you might be hooked like me.

Here are some pictures from Survival Fitness where I’m a member: