Not Cross or Scary!

Crossfit last night was far less intimidating that I had expected it to be.

Why was I so worried that it would be terrifying and too-much for a person whose level of exercise can be described as ‘low-ish’?  Whose body-shape is ‘average-ish’?  Go to google-images, and type ‘Crossfit’ into your search.  No worries, I’ll wait…


Luckily for me, a few factors contributed to my NOT freaking out and running away from the class.  My escape plan, in case you’re wondering, was to say “Oh… Hi… I was just here to ask if I could use your washroom…?  And gym clothes are always what I wear…But I don’t have to pee after all… bye”.

The Factors?

  • The giant cross-fit room, full of intense looking weights and horizontal bars and hanging rings and rowing machines was… mostly empty.  No jeering onlookers
  • The few people who were there were chipper.  There is no better description for the kind of peppy enthusiasm and overall good-will and cheer we encountered.  One girl was… bubbly.  Not exactly intimidating.
  • They did NOT look like the people in the google images search.  They were all quite fit, but not in the ‘carved out of granite and ready for guerrila warfare’ way that those scary guys and gals on google had.
  • I didn’t notice the buckets scattered through the facility labeled “Just Puke” until I’d already admitted to being the Alex who had reserved two spots for class.

We were the only two people in our ‘class’, which meant that we had an instructor all to ourselves.  She had us do a quick warm-up (bikes!), and then tested us out on the pieces of equipment we’d be using.  She was very thorough, and made sure that we were working hard, but not too hard.  I’m thinking maybe the ‘just puke’ buckets are a joke.  Right?

We did box jumps, pull-ups (!) and push-ups.

Box-jumps – Very self-descriptive, the only thing to clarify is that you jump both feet up onto the box, and then hop back down.  Harder than you’d think!

push-ups – … we did the girly variety, but I did manage to get my nose relatively near the mat without being flat on my stomach.

pull-ups – I’m sure you remember what I mentioned yesterday?  About my jelly-noodle upper-body strength?  With that in mind, this is a description of how a pull-up would go:

Alex dangles, arms straight, fists tight around the metal pole as her body-weight attempts to disconnect her arms from the rest of her body at the shoulder.  She flexes and tightens her arm and shoulder muscles and PULLLLLLLLS… She strains she trembles, she heaves, she swings her legs a bit to get a bit of upward-momentum.  She turns progressively more red.  The instructor begins to surreptitiously dial 911… a wise pre-emptive strike, as Alex now looks like she might be about to rupture the throbbing vein in her forehead that has reached epic proportions.  Alex continues to pull… PULL… PULL, hand-sweat causing her hands to start slipping.  She grips the bar tighter, lets out a grunting moan, and a few birthing-breaths.  The trainer cautiously pushes the Just-Vomit bucket to where she thinks Alex’s head will likely fall when her arms fall off.  In this eternity of a minute… 60 seconds… Alex has barely made progress into having not-locked elbows.  you could say her arm makes a 175 degree angle at the elbow.  Her face is so red that she matches the fire-truck that has already showed up quite well.  The rest of the emergency team arrives in time to put the gurney under her just before her arms fall off, and she falls, unconscious, exploded vein on her forehead hemorrhaging, and arm-holes spurting blood.

… yup.  I can barely support my own body weight dangling limply, let alone bend my arms.

Luckily for me, doing a full pull-up by myself was not part of the plan for the day.  They brought out giant green rubber bands (seriously… unstretched and hooked on the beam, it dangled about three feet) that would support part of our body weight.  I got a green one, and my Cross-buddy got a green band and a small black one.  It made it immensely easier (read:  possible) to pull myself up and do a full-out chin-up, body supported by a stretched out elastic-band attached to the bar and tucked under one of my feet.

We did four rounds of 15 block jumps-15 push-ups-15 pull-ups.  FOUR.  Midway through the third, she added a black-band to what was supporting my weight on the pull-ups, and replaced A’s black band with a slightly heavier-duty purple one.

It was HARD.  The last two or three of any of the activities, starting from the very first 15 felt impossible.  I felt like I’d climbed 100 steps, and just couldn’t do the last five to get to the prize.  However, we did it.  And we did it in fairly good time.  Because they time you, and surprisingly, it was helpful.  It made me keep going, at any rate.

The average time for the people who’ve been doing this for a while was 13 to 14 minutes.  Our time was around 16.5 minutes, pretty damn good for a first time!  I have to admit, I was shocked at how little time it actually was – it felt like we’d been circuiting through for at least half an hour.

In conclusion:  Crossfit isn’t nearly as scary as it sounds (or looks… damn you google images), and I actually really enjoyed it.  I know it might not sound like it from the contents of this blog, but I liked it enough that I might consider forking out the cash to do this on a regular basis after the groupon is complete.  I like that they have set routines each day, and that they mix it up each day, so that you’re doing different things.  I like that it was kind of like an individual trainer session, and that their timing is more for your own benefit (can you beat your own time?) than for the purpose of mockery and comparison.  They adjust the exercises so that you’re working very very hard, and doing the same amount as everyone else coming in – you don’t fail at an exercise, ever.  You succeed at it at your own level, and, theoretically, you improve (we’ll see how I do over time!).

My arms hurt.  but mostly only when I move them from ‘at rest’, so typing works, but waving my arms in the air is not an option right now.  I’m not looking forward to tomorrow and how I’ll feel then, but I am looking forward to my next class, which will be on Tuesday.

Happy Weekend!  And Happy Fathers’ Day!



  1. I’m glad it worked out so well for you! I guess it intimidated a lot of people, but how lucky can you be to have private instructions! 🙂

    • I guess that’s proof that what I think upon reading about something really doesn’t guarantee that it will be as intimidating as it seems.

  2. Well done, you, for going for it. Don’t you just love it when your whole body aches afterwards? Like a confirmation that you’ve done a good workout session and your body is a little bit trimmer?
    It’s great that you found a good place to train, I know from my own experience that gyms can be intimidating, especially when you’ve just joined.
    The way you’ve described the whole experience is so funny, it really made me laugh. 🙂

    • I do love that feeling, though I also hate it. This weekend, I tried and failed to close the back-hatch of the van… I could get my arms up, and I could put my weight into holding onto the trunk hatch, but I couldn’t pull it closed… too similar to the sensation of pull-ups aparently 😛
      I’m glad you enjoyed my gym-story 🙂

  3. Good for you for trying new things. I bet the more you do it, the easier it will become!

    • I doubt I’ll ever get over that initial feeling of dread, especially when I’m sure I’m not quite up for the challenge! But everything I’ve tried so far has been fun (in an exercise-and-hurt-later kind of way), despite the initial stress.

  4. Kudos to you for caring about your physical well-being! I wish there were more young people that felt the same way.

    • haha… if I don’t do something active, I find myself having wasted an entire afternoon sitting on the couch and then feel awful afterwards… part guilt and part muscle-atrophy, I think 🙂

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