“What is the point of all those push-ups if you can’t even lift a bloody log?”

I used to hate gym class. I mean really, I flat out loathed the whole idea…for nearly my entire school career. That is everything before college where I took a few “electives” that were of personal interest. I did not like sports (I have mentioned this previously), or locker rooms, or plain white t-shirts, or dodgeball, or calisthenics, or gymnastics, or tumbling, or wrestling, or whatever. Most of my growing up days I was fat and even though I likely needed this sort of activity, I wanted nothing to do with it. In those early days I was not even much for riding a bike… it took me awhile to master that skill as I recall and it was not until 7th grade or so that I had a decent one to ride anyway.

My first gym memories are from Clissold, the institution I attended from Kindergarten through 6th grade. There was a large open gymnasium there with ropes hanging from the ceiling and chin up bars attached to the walls. There was a secondary section with rings and mats and vaulting horses and parallel bars and uneven bars. All seemed like devious torture devices to me. I remember having to be silent while doing our calisthenics routines, the overhead lights buzzing maddeningly and the militaristic gym teacher – I want to say his name was Mr. Brady, but I cannot truly recall – white t-shirt and flat top buzz cut clad guy, stalking about with a whistle.

gym class1

So then there was middle school; Kerr to be specific. I actually have a hard time recalling gym there, so we will go ahead and jump to high school. There was a swimming pool and we had to wear the school trunks which were tight and gross and the whole place smelled like ass and chlorine. Unwashed bodies and chemicals… a party I wanted NOTHING to do with. There was outside ultimate Frisbee, which I should have liked. I actually enjoy playing Frisbee, but not as a sport… I mean, come on, what a way to ruin a perfectly good, fun, and unstructured activity. Like organized team sports with a hacky sack… completely the wrong direction. I did enjoy the section when we went bowling… early shades of my Dudeist inclination perhaps. Oh yeah, the archery section was cool as well.

So then one day I was visiting my sister in California and we went for a day hike at a place called Pinnacles and while there saw some folks rock climbing… now THAT I wanted to do. Unfortunately bike riding and Hot Pockets in the Midwest did not really prepare me for said activity. Either way, years later I would do some climbing; Rock, mountain, and steep snow and I loved every minute of it. Never did get to ice climbing, but that is beside the point. Then college came around and as mentioned I took some extra-curricular classes; Intro to Ski Mountaineering, Beginning Tae Kwon Do, Beginning Aikido. Perhaps you can see a pattern here. As mentioned I am not much of a team player.

OK, so besides just rambling here I do intend to bring this around to a point. I have mentioned a few times that I got this silly idea in my damn fool head to undertake a large and relatively complex building project involving trees and timbers and not many other people besides myself. Stupid. So while I am not Bruce Wayne lying under a burning ceiling beam…clearly… the title of this post has some relevance. After spending a certain amount of time trying to move trees around by myself I thought it would be a good idea to get in better shape. So this summer I took a yoga class. HAHAHAHAHA! What was I planning to do, meditate them there trees into place? Good Grief. Honestly though it was a step in the right direction, especially since the leader was crazy for core workouts. I did get stronger and it got me into a routine.

So fast forward to late summer. The trees need milling and I started working with a guy who was putting me to shame moving the timbers around by himself. I realized I needed to build some serious strength if I was going to continue with this madness. Then a doctor told me to watch my cholesterol. So I sign up at a local gym. Funny how things come around. So I go to this gym, where new and strange torture devices abound… and I realize I have no idea what I am doing. What I need is a guide…of some sort.

So then I meet this woman. She is tough. She does this thing called CrossFit. In talking with her about what that is I realize I need a trainer, so I investigate the possibility at the gym. HOW MUCH A MONTH? Forget that. But CrossFit seemed expensive too, on the order of three times my current gym cost. I finally decided to try it out…first month is half price. I was hooked after the first day. It is an incredibly intense, but real world oriented work out. The idea is to learn to have a greater command of your physical (and of course mental) person in physical space. If that seems too esoteric an explanation how about this, the motto is “Move Fast. Lift Heavy.”

So… CrossFit. This is so far from anything I would ever have envisioned myself doing…voluntarily. Likewise, I would never have envisioned enjoying it so much, so genuinely, so intensely. It is addicting. I am obsessed. I have changed my diet, my behavior, my mindset, and my outlook on life. I have dropped two pant sizes. Two weeks ago I deadlifted 295 pounds. Last night I squatted 170 and bench pressed 130… 15 times each, and that was just the warm up. I have done 50 pull-ups during a workout… in less than 30 minutes. I have flipped tractor tires… repeatedly, sprinted 1200 meters, rowed 5 kilometers… and always look forward to more.  And these things are common there…even paltry to some of the people that go. BUT, there is no negativity, no interpersonal animosity. There is friendly competition to be sure, but most of that is individually directed. The owners, Kane and Laci, are awesome people. They seem to know everyone’s name and are in there with us all, both training us and training with us. Everyone is encouraging. Everyone is working hard, sweating and cussing, moving fast and lifting heavy.

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The most amazing thing though is that while, yes it is really hard and I am sore most every day, I want to go back… can hardly wait to learn something new or set a new personal record. And… AND… it is meant for everyone. There are people there half my age and people half again my age. The woman that trained me (every beginner has a two week into period) is pregnant, is due tomorrow, and can and does put me to shame in any given workout. Check out a recent picture of her here… http://www.crossfitfairbanks.com/5089/friday-february-1-2013

There is likely a CrossFit near you. I highly recommend it… and if you are in Fairbanks, tell Kane or Laci that Shannon sent you. One day I hope to catch up to her… but she is pretty tough.

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