Today was my 8th Crossfit class – my second full class after my freebie trial class and my gym’s 5 on-ramp PEAK intro classes. It was the first class I’ve attended that didn’t require me to fight fear on the way in the door.
Last night, I checked the gym’s web site to see what was in store for me today. (The prescribed workout is, of course, NOT what’s in store for me, because everything has to be uber-scaled down to my fitness level, but it gives me a ballpark idea at least). The workout said:
Tuesday, November 18th
Snatch Complex: Full Snatch + Hang Snatch +2 Overhead Squats (Heaviest Possible)
3xMax Effort Windshield Wipers OR Max Effort L Holds from the Rig
15 Snatches 115/75
5 Muscle Ups (10 pullups+10 dips)
Next step: google the heck out of this foreign language.
I figured the newbies (including myself) would not be doing snatches, as we haven’t learned them yet. The only overhead thing we’ve done so far is the push press. So I guessed those would be cleans. For the burpees, I figured I’d be doing wall push ups, as I’m still nursing a little bit of a left tricep thing. (It’s so close to being back to normal. I expect to be good to go by the end of the month). For the pull ups, I’d be doing ring pull ups. So, alrighty then. That sounds doable.
I’ve been listening to some podcasts (including Girls Gone WOD) and reading a lot, and there seem to be two camps of people: those who check the WOD in advance, and those who don’t. The motivation not to check seems to be to avoid the temptation to skip an undesirable workout. At this point, my primary reason for checking the WOD ahead of time is to give me a chance to google everything so I don’t walk in to the gym completely clueless. WODs are still written in a foreign language to me. I go through the equivalent of sounding out each word and looking up the definitions. So, looking up a WOD ahead of time is a step of preparation for me. I can see myself groaning at something I don’t particularly like, but I can’t really see myself cherry-picking workouts. For one thing, my schedule doesn’t really allow it. And, no matter what the workout prescribes, I’d still rather be curled up in bed. Sorry. I may come to fall in love with Crossfit as a form of exercise, but no form of exercise is ever going to beat sleeping in terms of the battle for my affections. I recognize the many benefits of working out, so I do it, but, yeah. Sleep for the win. So if I have to work out, I might as well just do whatever is on the whiteboard, because it’s all second fiddle to sleeping anyway.
Man, I love sleep. I will never be that person whose workout recovery suffers for lack of sleep. I am a champion at sleeping. 9 hour sleeper here, w00t w00t!
I digress. After I translated the WOD, I went to bed, slept (aww yeah), got up, put on my hot pants, and went to Crossfit – and somewhere along the way forgot to be totally scared. I think there are a few reasons why I wasn’t scared today (and why it took almost 3 weeks to become comfortable with walking in the door). Being able to envision what the WOD means for me is a huge leap in mental preparation. I’m one of those people that plays through all conceivable scenarios of everything before I make decisions and act. Just ask anyone that has suffered through me mentally tasting every item on a restaurant menu before I decide what to order. Having a clear mental image of the WOD makes me feel ready for it. Also, nearly 3 weeks into my Crossfit journey, my body has started to adjust at least to the idea of being active. I’m still a little bit sore most of the time, but it’s a lot better than being completely sore all of the time. And while I know that every workout will make something hurt, it’s not really any different than training to run a race. You just get used to feeling a little banged up for the greater good. I know it’ll be like this for a while. Once I get 20 pounds or so off of me, it won’t be nearly as bad.
I’m also now confident that even though I only know 1 person at Crossfit, everybody there is friendly and supportive. Let’s be honest – I’m not a social butterfly anyway, and while I do look forward to getting to know the other gym members better, I’m totally fine with being a fly on the wall and just interacting with the occasional “Good job!” or high five. Half of the time, I’m still staring at these amazing athletes with my jaw on the floor. These amazing people are doing amazing things all around me, and they still take the time to cheer me on. It’s hard to be a scaredy cat in an environment like that.
I think a lot of the intimidation factor of Crossfit has waned for me now that I believe that it really is scaleable. That said, I’m still too chicken to do a drop-in class next week while I’m traveling in Chicago for the Thanksgiving holiday… partly because I have yet to believe that all gyms are as friendly and supportive as mine, and partly because I don’t want to put the responsibility of uber-scaling and newbie-teaching onto whatever poor coach I would happen to stumble upon. There are several new people in my class at Rocktown, so the scaling and extra instruction is happening for a few of us – not just me. That makes it a whole lot more comfortable than being the lone n00b.
I made it to class this morning and during the strength portion of the workout, we were working to find the heaviest weight we could handle to complete a snatch complex (or cleans, for the newbies like me). 1 power clean, 1 hang clean, and 2 front squats. Coach Lauren suggested we start low and work our way up, as we would spend 20 minutes working the strength portion of the workout. Last week, I had done the WOD with the training bar + 10# (25#), and after that workout, Lauren said she thought it looked like I could’ve gone a little heavier, and I thought so too. So after today’s warm-up, I started out with the women’s bar (35#). That was fine. I added 5# to each side. Still fine. My friend Sabrena was working out behind me, and I told her I felt like I might be able to go up one more time on weight, but after that, I was probably toast. I’m so glad she lets me bounce Crossfit thoughts off of her, because she’s been at it for more than two years, and has great advice.
I switched the 5# plates for 10# plates, which put me at 55#, and for the first time thought, “Alrighty! That’s heavy!” Lauren watched me do a couple sets, and said, “Let’s put five more on there.” I think I said, “Five what?” somewhat shocked at the notion of trying anything heavier. She replied, “Five on each side! You can do it. Your cleans look good! I wouldn’t suggest it if I didn’t think you were ready.”
Well, hot damn and holy shit, all at once.
Attempt #1 at 65#… success! But ohmygod I could barely do the front squats. I set the bar down (I’m really hesitant to drop it… I don’t want to make noise! It’s so… harsh!) and shook everything out. On my second attempt, the hang clean was ugly ugly ugly. I managed the set, but I know it was ugly. Lauren said it’s because I was too slow on the hang clean and not explosive enough. I’m finding that my slow, deliberate, careful movements (culled over years of doing yoga type workouts) are definitely hindering my Crossfit moves. I should probably keep the careful, deliberate part – but the “slow” part really needs to go. On a third attempt, I couldn’t get the hang clean. On a fourth attempt, I got both cleans, but had nothing left for the squats. So, 2 complete sets and a couple partials. I don’t think I could have completed a full set any heavier, so I suppose I accomplished what I had set out to do.
Does that mean my power clean and hang clean PRs are now 65#? heh I read somewhere that any athlete putting in a decent effort should be able to PR practically every time they set foot in the gym for the first 2 years. I suspect that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but I also suspect that just like running, my first year will indeed hit a whole lot of PRs. I look forward to that. Seeing progress is fun.
I did the WOD with 45#, cleans instead of snatches, wall push ups instead of burpees, and ring pull ups/bench dips instead of muscle ups.
As I collected myself in a pool of jello on the floor afterward, I got to watch one of the gym’s rock stars finish up what had to be close to if not an Rx WOD. Beast mode. Strong girls kick ass.
And that’s how my first class as a former scaredy cat ended. No more chicken bok bok for me. Bring it.
Photo credit, chicken image: Karen Jackson