Saturday, February 14, 2015

CrossFit on the Road and Sea

It's been a little over two weeks since my last post on the CrossFit Games and greed. That post ended up being picked up by Tabata Times and published. I knew it was a hot, contentious issue so I got lots of comments on both sides of the fence as expected. The coolest part was seeing how many boxes across the country shared it with their own athletes as a way to encourage them to sign up for the CrossFit Open. Speaking of which, the Open begins in 12 days! The first workout, 15.1, will be announced on Thursday, February 26th.

Things are still rolling along and this Monday will wrap up Week 15. Back in Week 14 during the first week of February, I was having little victories nearly every day and it was a blast. On one day, we had rope climbs as part of the workout that was someone's "birthday WOD" at our box. As someone who has never done a rope climb, I scaled the workout and did pull-ups instead. Afterwards, though, after most athletes left I jumped on the rope and a girl who was still there taught me how to wrap my leg around the rope and climb to the ceiling. Victory! I also learned why everyone protects their shins during rope climbs. I lost all the hair on the right shin...battle scar! On another day, we did a workout where we did box jumps but on each minute added bumper plates to the top of the box to increase its height. I had never jumped over 24" before but had a goal of 30". (The boxes are rectangles and can be 20", 24" or 30" depending on how you flip it.) By the end, I jumped 30" five times! Another small gain along the way. That week also held a few PRs in the lifting arena such as with the push press. Baby victories...awesome if they can be sprinkled in throughout the week. By the end of Week 14, we were set to go on vacation and miss an entire week at our box. We had gone consistently and for me specifically, only missed one or two days the entire time. As we set out for Miami and for a cruise, we strategized how to stay active.

We knew the cruise ship would have very, very limited space and equipment for what we'd wanted to do. So, we researched some "travel WODs" or those that can be done with your body only and no equipment. We flew into Miami a day early and had until Noon on Monday before we had to head to the ship so I did some research before we went and found a box 1/3 mile from our hotel in downtown Miami, "I Am CrossFit: Vida Brickell." I Am CrossFit is the parent and there are 6 or 7 locations across the area and in the Brickell section of Miami, the financial district, this box can be found. Actually, it's in the base of the Conrad Hotel on the southern side. We exchanged some e-mails with them in advance to find out if we could "drop in" for a class and the cost. "Drop in" is the phrase commonly heard for when you travel and want to find a local box to work out at. It was $20 a person (also what I've found that is standard fare out there). So after a major luggage fiasco that kept us up past midnight the night before, we showed up for the 7:30am class at CrossFit Vida.

Steven immediately greeted us and was awesome from that point on. He was the coach/trainer leading the class. One thing I've heard is about how different workouts are from box to box. This was true here, for sure. At our home box, we're used to a warmup, a gymnastic exercise, strength training (lifting), then the WOD. For this Monday, I saw "WU WOD" on the board and immediately asked what in the world a WU WOD is. Warm Up WOD! So for today, we did that followed by our first-ever partner-WOD. We had never done one together and this one just happened to include running (hehe!) in the warm Miami air. Here's the board that laid out the plans for the hour:
"Helen" is a benchmark WOD and normally done solo. For this partner WOD, they added a round and made the run 400m vs. 200m. I went first for each movement and rested as my wife did hers. Back and forth for 4 rounds. In the end, we finished last (a hair over 30 minutes) but gave it all we had...as a team. Steven was also awesome and taught us more than we knew regarding pull-ups and a new trick for kettle bell swings. I'd been wondering how people do them fast but now I know. We exchanged hugs and handshakes and said our goodbyes to Steven and swore to return whenever we happen to be back in town. (Turns out, we booked our cruise again for 2016 so we're coming back!) We also appreciated how the rest of the class welcomed us in. CrossFit Vida is a GREAT box and one I'd highly recommend. I loved the pride, too, that you could feel in the atmosphere. Here are a few photos I grabbed:


That afternoon we embarked on our cruise (a marriage cruise) into the Caribbean. We (my wife and I) agreed to take turns planning the WOD for the next two days. We checked out the gym onboard where they had some dumbbells and one rower, just like in our box...but only one. The ceiling was low, too. As a 6'3" guy who would love to "throw" those dumbbells high or do burpees, that wouldn't work. The rest of the gym was filled with the standard gym "fare." We headed topside up to the 12th deck and found a track...a 150 meter track! Yea...11 hamster-on-a-wheel laps would equal one mile. There was also some artificial turf in the putt-putt course in the middle of that track that we could utilize as well as some wooden flooring. We decided this area would do just fine.

As we pulled into Key West on Day 1, I pulled up my Maps app on my phone and spotted a park about 2 miles away. Since it was my day to plan the WOD, I decided we'd run to the park and find an area to workout, secretly wishing for some level park benches or picnic tables to do some box jumps. I strapped on my backpack and we headed that way. We eventually found our "mobile box" for the day next to a playground. These concrete benches would serve us well! My workout ended up being a Tabata workout. A Tabata workout goes like this: for each movement, you do 20sec of work and 10sec of rest...8 times. That takes 4 minutes. Then, you move on to the next movement. I chose 4 movements to do: box/bench jumps/burpees/squats/hand-release pushups. I used my "MyWOD" app on my phone that has a Tabata timer on it and we cranked it out! Afterwards, we enjoyed a leisurely stroll back to the ship but first had homemade crepes along the way. FANTASTIC!!! I had no idea how much I'd love them. So if you're wondering why bother with working out on vacation...well, that workout cost us a whopping 16 minutes. We spent time in the sun together, walking, talking, enjoying the ocean breeze...it's all quality time. We actually have zero interest in all the touristy things like shops, etc. We love to just get off the ship and explore so we did. To us, that's time well spent.

The next day, we had the morning at sea prior to pulling into Cozumel, Mexico so it was my wife's turn and we'd do the workout on the ship while out to sea. I do remember while doing this I said to her: "This was your idea!!!" It was a great workout. For hers, she devised this: 150m run/sprint, 100 single jump ropes, 40 squats, 30 walking lunges, 20 V-ups, and 10 burpees...all of that twice through. To say we got some interesting looks would be an understatement. Good planning also meant we brought our jump ropes with us. Great workout? Heck, yea! This was our view during the WOD.

For Thursday, we decided to sleep in. Yea, yea, yea...it was a mutual decision! After laying out on the deck soaking up the rays, I almost laced up my running shoes for a run up there but thought better of it and just logged a rest day, know that Friday would be an all-travel day and forced rest day. One thing I was definitely thinking...and missing....at this point was lifting and how I missed it. I missed the back squats, the overhead presses, etc. that I knew I had missed. I was surprised at this because through 41 years of life, I had zero desire to do that kind of thing but now I really enjoy it. I enjoy it differently than I do pushing myself hard through a WOD, though. I like both...just in different ways. I also like how building muscle burns fat and only doing WODs won't give me the physique that I'm getting.

Today as we have inches of snow falling back home, the temperature is flipped...17F before the wind vs. 71F yesterday in Miami, I decided to sweep away some filth from the road salt in the garage and WOD it up! I actually have a brand new kettle bell at home that I bought at Rogue Fitness in Columbus a few years back (when I was clueless and a CrossFit hater) and figured it was time to use it. I devised a WOD that would humble me and sweat it out, door open in the garage to the white out conditions. IT.WAS.AWESOME! To the blaring tunes of Skillet, I created this fine creature: 100 single jumps preceding every movement of 21-15-9 kettle bell swings, kettle bell on chest walking lunges and push-ups....times two. So in the end, I accumulated 600 jump ropes and 90 each of those movements. To say my arms are jell-o and butt sore would be an understatement.

I also finished my second CrossFit book yesterday on the plane ride home, "Embrace the Suck" by Stephen Madden. I absolutely recommend it. It's a quick read, too, if you like to read. For me, it took like two months. For my wife, she started it last night on the plane and is over halfway through already. Awesome read from someone who has been cycling and swimming for years but decided to drink some CrossFit "Kool-Aid." This is his story.

So week 15, you're about to be history. All Heart CrossFit, I'm looking forward to getting back in there next week and seeing my friends again giving it all everyday. As for the downside and any negative to share, I really can't help you there. I'm not injured, I'm stronger, I get to spend more time with my wife, and I actually am starting to like what I see in the mirror for the first time ever. CrossFit is totally what you make of it. If you give little, you'll get the same back in spades. Give it everything you have and it'll become addicting in a great way. Either way, leave that ego checked at the door every day, do you best not to compare, and just give it YOUR best, bar none. Be a better you!

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