Into the Crosshairs

This is the eve of the eve of the day I potentially start Crossfit. Two weeks ago I went along with a friend during “Bring a Friend to Experience Our Unique and Strangely Seductive Brand of Sadomasochistic Torture” Week. All that was too long to fit on signs and websites, so they called it “Bring a Friend to Crossfit” Week.
On that day, I posted the following status on Facebook:
“Today I learned lots of things: I now know what a burpee is, I know that I can’t jump more than three inches straight up, I know that I’m really good at anything where gravity is on my side (if I’m working against gravity, all bets are off), and I know that I have the stamina of a waffle. I think ‘sorer but wiser’ sums it right up.”
The comments on this ranged from, “But waffles are delicious!” (a true statement, I can’t argue), to questions about my joining “the cult” and a glowing assurance from a friend that “the cult” was an awesome experience, and I should run, not walk! to the next possible session.
Over the past two weeks I’ve had several conversations with various folks about whether or not I intended to join this insane group. I mean, really, any gym that has to keep a surreptitious barf bucket handy for patrons who might exercise to the point of loss of lunch is letting you know up front what you’re in for, don’t you think?
Of course, FAQ #1 is, “What possessed you to try it in the first place?” and FGA #1 (Frequently Given Answer) is, “I have no freakin’ clue.” Three weeks ago my friend posted a FB comment of her own that this was “Bring a Friend” Week and if anyone wanted to try it, she’d take them along. It stuck with me. No idea why.
FAQ #2 is, “Well, are you going back?” (This is usually asked in the sort of tone one uses with ones’ offspring when they’ve done something spectacularly boneheaded, and you’re asking something along the lines of, “Well, have we learned a little lesson now?”) FGA #2 is, “I really don’t know.” Well, of course, by now I do know.  I am, at the very least, in it for probably 10 sessions, which is the least you can sign up for. Will I go beyond that? I can’t say.
Some people want to know what it’s about. Well, it’s a sort of a fast weights workout (but done safely—they stress safety) that scales to individual ability. In my first workout, one of our “moves” was what they call legless rope climbs (which is to say, climb a rope suspended from a structural beam using only your upper body strength. Sure, great idea). Since that was clearly about ten peskillion light years past my ability, the coach told me to sit on the floor next to the rope, and use my arms to pull myself into as much of a vertical position as I could. I think I got my butt as much as a foot off the floor.
The aftermath, I have to say, was some of the most pure agony I have ever experienced in my life. Given the number of squats we had to do (96 total), plus up and down off of an 8” high box, plus that burpee thing (24 of those), I have to say, I was sore on a new level. I hadn’t experienced a soreness like that since giving birth (and even that wasn’t so much soreness as genuine pain from various incisions in my midsection—there’s a difference, you know, and sometimes the pain is easier to cope with because you take a Percocet and everything is totally groovy, thanks).
To illustrate just how sore I was, on Saturday morning, the day after this self-inflicted madness, I got out of bed (not easy, but not too horrible), walked to the top of the stairs in my house (it wasn’t too much of a pathetic hobble), looked down the 12 steps + landing + 4 steps to the first floor of my house, and thought, “Fuuuuuuuuuuuccccckkkkk.” Honest. That was the sole thought that went through my mind as I contemplated how I was going to get down those stairs. I actually considered sitting on my butt and scootching down like a toddler, and then realized that to do so would involve engaging the same muscles as walking down, so I bit the bullet and walked. To be accurate, I executed a series of moves that approximated “walking.” But I got down the stairs and it only took probably six minutes.
It was three days before I could sit down on without pausing and thinking, “Ooch, ouch, ooch” as my quads reminded me that after a blasting like I’d given them on Friday, they weren’t going to forgive me in a hurry. It was four days before I could walk in a manner that I would describe as normal. It was five days before I was completely back to my usual self (which is to say, I could move in almost any direction without some muscle reminding me that we’d had such a fun time on Friday, and thanks so much!).
So why on earth would I go back? That’s FAQ #3 and FGA #3 is really, I have no idea. I also ran a half marathon a year and a half ago, and I don’t know why I did that either. To say I could? It was a similarly torturous experience, although I have to hand it to Crossfit—I was able to walk a half a mile to Downtown Disney for dinner within 9 hours of running 13.1 miles. In terms of a thorough ass-kicking, Crossfit wins. And did I mention I’m going to have to get up at 4:30 to go to this class so I can get to work in a timely fashion? Yes, well, when do you think I trained for that half marathon? At 4:30 in the morning in a treadmill in my basement. So this isn’t such a very different proposition from the half marathon, it’s just there’s no fixed end point.
So why? While I was doing it, I was saying the whole time, “I hate this, it hurts, I want to stop doing this, why am I doing this? I don’t have to do this, so why am I doing this?” and then I’d finish my round, rest for 3 minutes, and do it again. But when we left I thought, was it that bad? It wasn’t. And then that soreness hit, and the thing is, I kind of enjoyed it, in a weird way. It told me that I’d really accomplished something. I’d really changed something. Not something huge, but I’d made a small change, and if I kept it up, it would be a permanent small change. And if I kept it up, it would eventually be a permanent large change. There’s something kind of tempting about that. To me, anyway.
And I put the question to my friends who do other things—why do you do what you do? I know a lot of people who ride their bikes to and from the ferry, and to and from work on the other side. Why do you ride your bike? Is it because you enjoy riding in the dark and the rain, dodging cars and getting drenched and cold? Or is it because you know it’s a good thing to do for your body and your mind? The people I know who ride their bikes could easily take buses or drive cars. But they don’t. Well, I could easily not torture myself with Crossfit. But for right now, I’m going to try it. And I may find myself out a hundred bucks and just not willing to press on, but I won’t know unless I try, right?