Power of CrossFit is in motivation and novelty

  • By Bruce Overstreet
  • Monday, January 13, 2014 3:43pm
  • Life

An hour after finishing my first CrossFit Marysville workout on Tuesday, I sat down on my couch at home to enjoy a cold refreshment and I came across the new season of NBC’s “The Biggest Loser.” For the first time, I could relate with the people on this show on a whole different level.

An hour earlier, I was one big muscle cramp as I strove to finish what my CrossFit Trainer, Litsa Olsson, calls the CrossFit’s baseline workout. Now, I was watching eight people push themselves to their physical limits on television as they hauled kettlebells up a sandy cliff in a challenge.

An hour ago, I had the satisfaction of cheering on my classmates as they went through the same pain I had just experienced. Now I was witnessing the same thing happen on NBC.

Having a connection with the reality show, however, isn’t nearly as gratifying as living the reality. When the spunky gal next to me at CFM was struggling to get done with the baseline workout, I felt a real need to encourage her to the finish. I’d already learned that’s just the “CFM Way.” And there were no cameras involved.

Sure, I may not have 250 pounds to lose like some contestants on “The Biggest Loser”; but I do have 25 pounds that are weighing me down. And I may not be playing for $250,000 in front of millions of people on national television; but the converted storefront windows on Third Street make for some great viewing for anyone driving home from work. I also may not have Jillian Michaels as my personal trainer; but our group has Litsa (“It sounds like pizza”) Olsson, who finished 15th place in the 2013 CrossFit World Open 50-54 Division, training us.

Heck, I don’t need to be on NBC; I’ve got the best thing going in Marysville at Third and Columbia.

It’s amazing that within 6 minutes and 43 seconds of starting the baseline workout by pulling on the simulated rowing machine, I could hurt as much as I did. But doing a simulation of 500 meters of rowing, followed by 40 air squats, 30 sit-ups, 20 push-ups (the correct way with the elbows going in toward the rib cage, not flared out like wings), and 10 burpees (remember those from middle school?) as fast as one can has a way of doing that to a person — even a person who tries to stay pretty physically active.

As I closed in on being done with the baseline workout, every “up” on the burpees caused stomach muscle spasms that threatened to bring me to my knees. At first, it didn’t help that a former athlete I coached in track at Everett High, Makenna Brinster, was hanging around watching this after her workout and imploring me to “represent north Everett well.” Talk about pressure.

But, as McKenna saw that I was genuinely struggling as my entire stomach was on the verge of seizing up in constricted form, she helped out in the “CFM Way;” Makenna got out there and did the last four burpees with me. That support earned her a well-deserved high five from me. Whoever thought burpees could be so hard?

I had heard about the support and encouragement that’s so common among the people at CrossFit Marysville when someone else is laboring to complete a task. I never knew how much I would appreciate it.

Granted, 6:43 isn’t that long to hurt. In fact, 6:43 is about the time I could run a mile in right now. But this was a different 6:43. This was a 6:43 that had me doing things that I don’t normally do.

That’s the beauty of this challenge. It’s the philosophy of CrossFit, which is to get you doing functional movements that are varied and intense. It’s the variety that seems so intriguing. This just may be the answer to my weight-room woes. I have never been a guy who could simply go into the gym and “pump iron.”

I have no idea what we will be doing on Saturday. And I like it that way. What I do know is that the five neophytes in CFM’s On-Ramp training group will be challenged and supported. I know that we may be pushed physically and wonder if we can finish the prescribed workout.

And if someone can’t finish what’s prescribed — and one person couldn’t today — then they do what is called a scaled or adapted version of the workout.

This is about going forward from where you are right now. We know that in twelve sessions, we will be tested on this baseline once again.

I fully anticipate in twelve sessions — when I do this baseline workout again — I will finish faster than 6:43. And I won’t need Makenna Brinster there to get me through that final burpee. The odds are pretty good, however, that someone else will be there cheering me on and high fiving me afterwards. Without the NBC cameras in our faces.

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