The Trouble with Being a Loner

Alternately:  Why the hell would I choose Crossfit?

Every time I mention that I’ve started Crossfit (including Monday’s post), I get one of two reactions – either a real “good for you!” kind of thing, or “I am just not in good enough shape to do that.”  Even my wife, when I mentioned it to her for the first time several months ago, gave me the “don’t you think you should get yourself into better shape and THEN think about doing that?”  And that might not be a completely unreasonable first reaction.

All of the people that I know that have done this have been super fit people.  Like, you see them and you say “oh, there goes an athlete” kind of fit.  Like turning heads in bathing suits and bikinis fit.  So that’s intimidating.

And then just use the Google and start researching what people have to say about Crossfit.  There is a lot of positive, but also a LOT of negative out there about it.  Weightlifters, in particular, really dislike that some of the Crossfit movements are not done with strict form – especially the pullups.  Extra especially the pullups.  There are tons of articles and columns and videos out there, each talking shit about the whole idea and accusing Crossfit people of being cult-like.  This is a good overview:

The other thing about Crossfit, mentioned in that Gawker thing, is that it is expensive.  And that is true, though mine isn’t nearly as expensive as they mentioned.  The thing about running is … you buy some shoes, and you go run.  Not too much money there.  This thing costs much, much more.

Recent family picture - all I see here is belly

Recent family picture – all I see here is belly.  The belly has to go.

And for the record, I’m also not in enough shape to do this … well.  But I am in enough shape to get in there and start working.  I was middle to end of the pack in the fundamentals class (if situps are involved, I’m toast – those are HARD), and I’m going to be firmly in the back of the regular class.  And that’s OK – I’ve made peace with the idea that I can only start from where I am.  Not doing things to get fit because I’m not fit enough feels like a vicious cycle.

So why would I do this?  Let’s count down some things:

  1. I am apparently not good at consistently motivating myself to get up and go it alone with exercise.  I can do it for short, and sometimes even medium-long, stretches, but then it falls apart.  I am not a confident enough runner to try and run with people (yet, maybe ever).  And the thing about running not costing much is that if you don’t go, you aren’t wasting your money.  The group aspect of Crossfit is an important benefit to me.  I have paid (a lot of money – more on that in a minute) to do this, and the coaches initially and now my classmates are expecting to see me there.  And if I don’t show when I should, I’m going to get asked about it.  And, at some point, it is easier (and far better) to JUST GO DO THE WORKOUT ALREADY.
  2. An extension of that is that I respond very well to coaching. It turns out that if I’ve got somebody there pushing me and encouraging me and helping me figure it out, I will push myself much harder than I ever would alone.  I’ve now done 14 Crossfit workouts, and I haven’t finished a single one of them where I wasn’t gasping for air and really stretching to get the last reps in.  That happens occasionally, but not enough, I feel, when I’m on my own.  It feels good to really push hard.
  3. Cross-training is hard for me. I still consider myself a runner.  I don’t want to be a powerlifter or put on piles of muscle or anything like that.  I need to be fit, and then I need to work on running.  Working in cross-training days is something that was logistically very hard for me, and I think my running and overall fitness suffered for it.  This, by definition, gets me that cross-training, and particularly works on my core, which can use all of the help it can get.

So here is the plan – my goal is to use weekdays to workout, weekends are free for family time unless I’m training for something specific, at which point I’ll do my long run on Saturday morning.  Between now and June 6th, I’m going to do Crossfit four days a week (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday), and run one time a week (Thursday) just to make sure my body remembers.  On June 6th I leave for a work trip – that week will be runs while I’m traveling and only two Crossfit workouts.  And then the following week I begin a schedule that has me do Crossfit MWF and running on Tue-Thurs.  I’m registered for a 10k in early November, and after that I start the long-run build to the Gasparilla Distance Classic Half Marathon in late February.  New long-term goals include only one big race a year.  I was trying to do too much last time and I think I burned out.

Also, let’s talk about money.  This gym (Celebration Crossfit, by the way – so far the coaches are great) requires a 3-week Couch-to-Crossfit fundamentals course that cost $97 for 12 classes.  After that, it is $159 / month for an annual membership, but they credit the $97 if you sign up during the first couple of weeks.  That’s a lot of money, but I look at it a little differently.  Given my expected schedule, that’s going to work out to somewhere between $10 and $12 for each class I go to.  That’s $10 / $12 per hour for 1.) use of their gym and equipment, 2.) on-hand trainers and coaches taking you through the workouts and modifying the movements if necessary, 3.) planned daily workouts – I don’t have to think about them, just show up and do them, 4.) nutritional advice if I want it (not at this point, but maybe eventually), and 5.) accountability to the coaches and the classmates that will actually motivate me to show up.

That’s a hell of a lot of value for that money.  And if this sticks (and unless I get hurt I don’t know why it wouldn’t) and I lose a lot lot of pounds and get into a routine where I keep them off – it would have been worth it at many times that price.

So – that’s why I’m doing Crossfit.  I promise I’m not going to become a Crossfit cult member, and I’m not going to spend every damn post every damn day talking about it.  This is NOT going to be a Crossfit blog.  But – it is what is going on right now, so for a bit this is what I’m talking about.  Next post is going to be about nutrition.  Still working up the nerve to put those before pictures up.

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