Saturday, May 11, 2013

HO! LY! CRAP! CrossFit: Day 1

Today was a big day for me.  I had been tossing around the idea of trying out CrossFit as a way to lose weight and get into shape.  I have friends that swear by it and others that tell me that I needed to lose weight first to avoid a cardiac episode.  After mulling it over for the past year, and researching the local CrossFit gyms, I decided to jump into the deep end at Crossfit Praus here in Ft. Wayne this morning for their free guest day.  I've been in contact with the owners/trainers for the past week or so, and with their added encouragement and reassurance that I wouldn't keel over, I committed myself to be there.  Luckily, I didn't have to go alone.  Maria, my girlfriend, was more than happy to go check it out with me and go through the day's workout.

We got there at about 8:45am to a nearly empty parking lot in front of an industrial style metal building.  Within 5 minutes, there were a dozen other cars joining us.  We stepped inside to the lobby and met Shane and Amanda Burge, the owners and our trainers for the day.  I was pretty intimidated right off the bat.  As I looked around, I saw a lot of very fit men and women who have obviously been doing this for a while.  I was, by far, the heaviest person in the gym (aka. box).  I had butterflies before I got there and now there were getting worse.  I signed my injury/death waiver and headed into the gym.  It was a wide open room, lined with boxes, pull up bars, rings hanging from the ceiling, barbells, and bumper plates.  I was so far out of my element.  I had no clue what I was going to be put through and I was getting really nervous.  As everyone filed into the gym, the trainers headed to the center and everyone circled around.  There were probably about 25 people in there, and after the introductions, I found out that a lot of these people were here for their first time as well.  The nerves began to calm.

We started with some stretches and a 400m run outside.  Afterwards, we learned a few of the fundamental motions and exercises that we would be doing today.  Air squats, burpees, push ups, and dead lifts.  We all practiced these moves for a few minutes before the WOD (workout of the day) was introduced to us and explained.  We were working with partners on this one, so I obviously paired up with Maria.  We were about to do 3 rounds of some serious intensity as partners.

3 Rounds (21/15/9 reps respectively) For Time - 20:00 Limit

  • Burpees
  • Squats
  • Push ups
  • Dead lifts 
  • 200m run

As soon as I began the run at the end of the first round, my legs were gelatinous.  I ran about half the distance and had to walk a lot of the way back.  I kept marching on though.  Round 2 seemed a little bit easier, due to the fact that it was fewer reps. We managed to finish it and get through the run.  When we got back into the gym for round 3, I noticed that a majority of the other people were already putting away their equipment.  There were only 5 minutes left to go and I was drained.  I walked over to the area I was using for our workout and slowly started round 3.  Maria was struggling right along with me, but had to stop to take care of her son, who was with us in the childcare area.  I sludged through it on my own.  I now realized that we were the only ones still going.  As a fat guy with low self esteem, I have issues with people staring at me.  This was about to become one of my worst fears.  Everyone else had started watching me and Maria, as she returned, try and finish the WOD.  I started to try blocking out the staring eyes, but that wasn't going to happen.  They weren't going to let that happen.  One of the biggest draws of CrossFit is the sense of community and camaraderie each gym, trainer, and member are known for oozing out.  These people weren't staring at me at all.  They had all gathered around to encourage us and root us on.  I had to drop that wall I had built as a defense mechanism.  I felt like I was a part of this "family" and I had only been there for less than an hour.  I pushed as hard as I thought was possible for me.  I dropped that last dead lift to the mat and made a dash to the back door for my final 200m run.  Maria had to stop again to help out her son, so I was completely alone.  It was a very emotional moment for me as I made the final turn back into the parking lot.  I looked to the finish, about 50m away.  Nearly the entire gym had ventured out to watch me try to finish.  Everyone was shouting and cheering me on, but my legs were liquid.  I heard someone yell out, "15 seconds!"  There was no way I could make it to the finish in 15 seconds.  I knew I had failed in front of all these people, despite their very vocal encouragement, but I sprinted the last few meters as hard as I could into a crowd of high fives and pats on the back.  I looked up at the timer...  20:00...

I couldn't decide whether to puke, collapse, or cry.  Thankfully, I did none of these things.  I walked over to a box and leaned over for a minute to try to catch my breath.  We weren't done, apparently.  We still had to do 50 v-ups (similar to an ab crunch) as fast as possible.  We were struggling pretty bad on this one.  Less than a minute into it, I heard someone shout out, "Time!", signaling that he had already finished.  Shortly after, Maria was finished, too.  Nearly 3 minutes later, I was done.  That sucked... a lot!  But Maria and I had finished the meat and potatoes of the workout and finished the cool down stretches without incident. 
Was this the most intense workout I've ever done?  Without a doubt.  Did it suck?  Yup!  Did I enjoy it?  Absolutely.  I will be back next weekend and soon enough, I'll join as a full fledged member.

I've heard a lot of people talk about the CrossFit kool-aid.  It's almost cult-like, but in a very positive way.  Pass me a big glass, I'm thirsty for more...


  1. Congrats Rick. The first workout is by far the hardest. The next one is scary because you now know what you're in for.

    I like to use a saying from my favorite cartoon fish, Dori: Just keep swimming. Crossfit is very physical but is more mental than you think. Keep positive thoughts and KEEP MOVING!

    Again, congrats.


  2. Great job man. My advice would be to treat every WOD like it's your first: go hard as you can push yourself and then a bit further.

  3. Oh my gosh, Rick-I was almost in tears reading this. What a great inspiration!