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Friday, January 30, 2009

1 Year of CrossFit: A Review

To those who are new to CrossFit and the other CrossFit addicts like myself, I thought you might find it interesting to read about my 1st year of CrossFit…

What a year, what a year.  Its been quite an experience for me to discover CrossFit.  Little did I know what I was in for when my cousin first told me to check out in mid January of 2008 for some workouts he thought would be good for a Cop like me.  I then completed my first workout on 1-23-08.  First a little backstory to give the setting…

I’ve had a number of injuries and setbacks to my fitness over the last few years including a fractured wrist snowboarding (in a cast for 8 months), and a dislocated shoulder mountainbiking (required surgery and 3 pins).  During my Police Officer hiring process Dr’s physical exam I came to the shocking discovery that I only have the lung capacity of about 65-75% of the average person which Doctors have yet been able to explain/diagnose and which came very, very close to preventing me from getting hired as a Cop.  I dislocated and fractured my right ankle in a dirtbike accident in January of 2007 and hadn’t worked out a day since then.  Before my dirtbike accident I mountainbiked 1-3 times a week and did a little bit of pushups and situps sporadically.  To give you an idea how bad my fitness had sunk to after the dirtbike accident, I went mountainbiking for the first time in Oct of 07 and threw up after riding up a hill which I had previously considered a warmup.  Sad and pathetic, especially considering that is the first time I can ever remember throwing up during or after a workout…

After hearing about CrossFit I dove into and started reading everything in sight.  I was immediately drawn in by the sound fitness philosophies I found and the killer workouts which from the videos it was obvious developed an elite level of fitness.  It all just rang very true to me.  I found Brand X that first day and found a home here.  That first day I read about the importance of scaling the workouts down to a level where the intensity was high and you were able to stay within the intent of the workout (most workouts are NOT a long, slow grinding effort of muscle fatigue with no metcon hit.  I see many, many people miss this crucial point).  I got the bug big time and was instantly hooked.  Within that first month of hearing about CrossFit I bought a rower, rings, Pendlay bar and bumpers set and my Garage Gym was up and running.  I’ve now spent a total of somewhere in the ballpark of $3700 on my garage gym, and 26 people have worked out there, 17 of which experienced CrossFit for the first time.  I convinced my Wife this summer to a vacation in San Diego in large part so I could sneak over to Brand X for a couple of workouts.  What a privilege that was.  Along with my Level one Certification visiting Brand X was the CrossFit highlight of the year.  I now have 2-4 regular workout partners.  Very, very rarely do I workout alone anymore.

The following is a before and after snapshot to help paint the picture of what CrossFit has done for me:

From 12 deadhang pullups to 17

From not knowing what a Kipping Pullup was to 30

From a high bar back squat 145lbs x 5 with improper form to learning how to low bar back squat with 235 x 5 and 285lbs x 1 which is just over 1.5 times my bodyweight.

From never doing a Front Squat to Front Squat of 230

From 0 Double Unders to 14

From Deadlift 210 to 365

From not having the slightest idea how to Clean correctly to Squat Clean 190 and squat clean and jerk 185

From not having the slightest idea how to Snatch correctly to Snatching 155

From not knowing what an Overhead Squat was to OHS 165

From not knowing what a Muscleup was to 4 consecutive arms locked and hands turned out Muscleups

From never having rowed anything in my life to getting a C2 rower and a 500m row in 1:35

From getting anywhere from 3-7 hours of sleep a night to 7-8 hours a night

From being embarrassed and self conscious about my lack of fitness because I knew the importance of a high level of fitness and knew how far short I was living off that mark to it being one of the highlights of my day and one of the most enjoyable parts of my career to be able to share what I’ve learned with others.

From having a piss poor diet to being on an eyeball measured zone and paleo friendly diet

From starting as a Buttercup to being a Pack/Porch half the time and a Big Dawg the other half

From not being able to do a single WOD as RX’d to having a 9:59 Underdawg time on Helen, a 5:44 Fran, Grace with power cleans of 4:50 (couldn’t clean 135 once when I started and my first RX’d Grace attempt with squat cleans took 21:19) and completing a number more WODs as RX’d. 

From knowing very little about the wonderful world of fitness to getting my Level 1 Cert and working as a PT Instructor at my Police Department’s Academy.

I’m thrilled with my progress thus far, but the way I see it, I have little to brag about.  Instead I have a TON to work on and improve.  I’m far from where I want to be, but now I can see myself eventually getting there.  Attaining elite fitness before discovering crossfit just seemed like an unattainable lark, but now I know I’m on the right path to do it.  I love to track my workouts and examine what I’m doing and what can be done better.  I’ve discovered how crucial this is to a successful program, so in light of that I wanted to include details for you guys to help assess one person’s progress that was made in a year.

Looking back there are a few things I would have done differently, namely getting in to see a coach sooner to square away the fundamentals on the core lifts.  I still have a need to do this on a few lifts (deadlifts and O-lifts come to mind).  If anything though, any and all success has been because I’ve simply showed up.  Consistency is king.  I’ve been consistent with crossfit and crossfit has been consistent with giving back to me what I consider some substantial results that I wouldn’t have reached with the other fitness programs out there.

I have a nice long list of goals for this next year and beyond, and I’m excited to continue hitting it hard.  I truly look forward to being at the solid big dawg status.  When I first started it bothered me a lot to not be there.  I’ve certainly learned how to check my ego at the door and know that one day if I do my part, staying consistent and putting in the hard work, I will be living out the elite level of fitness which CrossFit forges.  There are not many things that I can apply myself to that could potentially save my life at work, but CrossFit is one of them!  Not only has CrossFit filled the niche of being my workout program, it has also become my sport which I just plain love to do. 

Its been an incredible ride so far and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it.  A huge thanks to all those here who have helped, taught, private messaged, coached, inspired, and sweat along side with or via the web.  I truly appreciate the Brand X crew that runs the Forum and is so welcoming to complete stranger newbies like all of us start out as.  Thanks specifically to Coach Glassman and Coach Martin!! 

As so many others have said before I only wish I had discovered CrossFit many, many years ago!  Here is to the next successful year of CrossFit for all of us…. I can’t wait to see what it has in store!!!


Dan said...

This post makes me smile. Congrats on all of your accomplishments, broham.

Although you forgot about the part that after you threw up on the bike ride you spit on me :)

Let me know when you savages are going to work out this week - I'd be privileged to join you.

Jake said...

Nice Joe! Keep it up! So when are you going to open up your own gym?

Dan said...


To Jake's question. Pull a Freddy Commacho. Do it.