Friday, July 22, 2016


In life, there are three ways something can go down - worse than you thought, better than you thought, or exactly as you thought. Strangely enough, my experience with the ubiquitous exercise trend CrossFit fell into the middle category.

As evidenced in previous blog entries, I don't always make fantastic life decisions. So when a friend of mine who works in Irvine (Orange County, for all you non-Californians) said she was going to try a class down there, I startlingly said "I SHOULD COME WITH YOU." I'm not sure if it was the fact that my only human contact in the past two weeks has been via phone/internet and whoever I might be forced to talk to in a public library or if I was simply still under the influence of my Ritalin I'd taken that morning, but I made the executive decision to drive to OC and go to my first CrossFit class as a sedentary blob.

A friend noted that you'll know someone goes to CrossFit because they'll tell you, which is true - and it's where I learned everything I knew about it. I combined all the stories from anyone I'd ever heard talk about it and imagined maybe the scariest thing in the history of exercise.

Here's how I imagined it going down:

Me: *walks into gym*

Trainer: "Hi, welcome to Crossfit, is this your first time?"

M: "Yes."

T: "Great, well sign this giant waiver that you don't have time to read through, put your stuff down over there and head into the gym!"

M: Ok *signs life away and walks into gym area*

**the gym is full of weights no lighter than 50lbs, stacks of car tires, ropes, lots of metal things that will poke you if you walk into them, large sweaty men grunting, and me, who is half the size of the smallest person in the room**

T: "Okay, since this is your first time, let me tell you what you're going to be doing.  First, you're going to pick up one of those car tires and run to the other side of the gym, where you will attempt to ring toss it onto a pole. You have to keep trying until you get it on the pole.  I suppose since you're new, we'll let you use a Hyundai tire instead of the regular SUV ones, but just this once.

After you finish the tire toss, you'll come back inside and pick up these 50lb rocks and move them from one side of the gym to the other for 5 minutes.  When time's up, you put down the rock, strap on the weighted vest, and go open that large 50-gallon drum. Inside that drum will be a bear.  Since it's your first day, we'll let you use the semi-tranquillized bear, but as you can see, veterans like Chaz and Vinny will get a fully awake bear.  Fight that bear until one of you dies. Since you're at CrossFit and we take things seriously here, you better not be the one who dies.

Finally, after you kill the bear, you'll climb that rope up to the second story of the parking garage, where you will find three cars. First timers get to use the Beetle, but everyone else has to use the F150. You will push that Beetle up the garage to the third floor, then sprint down as fast as you can back to the gym.  The first person who makes it back will get a reward of a Paleo kale and banana wrap, and everyone else is a loser and will be deprived of water for the remainder of the session.

Ready?  GO!"

As I am currently typing this, it's clear that the above scenario did not occur. What actually happened was I took a lovely 2-hour drive to Irvine (for the record that is 60 that's NOT a good drive time) and met my friend at her hotel. She picked me up and we drove to an office park about 3 miles away to find our randomly located CrossFit gym.

When we go inside, we can see into the gym area, and there are one or two people lifting weights in a non-threatening manner (if you can count the amount of weight they were lifting as non-threatening). A nice young man walks into the "lobby" and starts to talk to us about our fitness levels, etc.

"Have either of you done CrossFit before?"

My friend answered "I have, about 5 years ago I did it for three months." I look down at my Hello Kitty socks before telling him that no, I have not done CrossFit, and not only that, but since my ankle injury last September, I have done very little of anything at all and have the aerobic fitness of a 45-year-old World of Warcraft enthusiast.

When it's finally time to start, we go into the gym and are met by a surprisingly pleasant British man with a manbun who seems perfectly happy to take us slowly through squat snatches. Or snatch squats. Fuck if I know, I just wanted to giggle every time he said snatch...then I wondered if snatch was even a euphemism in Britain or if it literally only meant "to snatch." He also told us he was in his 40s, so half the time I was preoccupied by his completely wrinkle-less face and wanted to ask him if he too used Korean skin products, but there never seemed to be an appropriate time to discuss our potentially similar skincare routines.

He started  by showing us what he referred to as a squat, but what any normal person would refer to as "baseball catcher's position." I wanted to interrupt - "Excuse me, kind sir, but I'm afraid my knees are actually incapable of doing that. You see, I'm over 30, so..." But no, I just did it, wondering if I would simply fall backwards (yes, once) or actually be able to right myself without using my hands (this did eventually happen).

So for 45 minutes we did snatch squats, first using a pvc pipe, then a 15lb metal bar, and always using too many leg muscles. We finished with burpees, which are the devil incarnate, and I barely made it off the floor for the last one, but once I realized we were done, I was like WHOA, I just did CrossFit without passing out (that's a legit thing that happens to me, it's kinda my thing).

Today I hurt, stairs are hard, and randomly my muscles give out and I wobble oddly trying to stay standing - but I also know that tomorrow is going to be worse, because it's always the second day where I'm only capable of crawling to the bathroom and raising my arms to brush my teeth is maybe the hardest thing in the entire world. But you know what? It wasn't too bad. I'd do it again. I'd prefer not to drive two hours beforehand, but we all have dreams.