July 5th marks my 10 year anniversary of CrossFit. I’ve told the story before, page but I spent the day of the 4th July, website like this 2006 at a Thomas the Train fair in (very) rural Pennsylvania. It was unbearably hot and humid, approved and I was 29 years old, with 2 kids and another on the way. I had been working in NYC, enjoying the food and libations the city had to offer. I had just done a work physical in May of that year, and my doctor warned that I had put on some weight, and if I didn’t take a look at my eating and lifestyle, I would probably be a portly fellow, gaining 5 pounds every year until I was the size of the stay-puft marshmallow man. Ok, the doctor didn’t say that, but it was an eye opener. Until that point, I was always pretty fit. I was athletic as a kid, and became a pretty good high school wrestler. I played inter mural sports in college and lifted weights and ran all the time. In the army, I was fit. As a grown up, I lifted weights. I squatted and deadlifted regularly, but I didn’t get a loft of cardio and I certainly wasn’t watching my nutrition when there was Brooklyn pizza and prosciutto bagels to be eaten.
So I spent that day in sunny summer Strasbourg, slightly chubby, hot and sweaty. I was tired from lugging around kids. The only thing that made me feel better was an overly sweet lemonade. It was probably 4 bucks and it would cool me off and made me feel better. Until the sugar wore off. Then I felt like crap and I needed more lemonade.
That night, I was talking with my brother, Rob, about getting back in shape. I knew I needed to after the doctor’s appointment, but that day, melting in the sun and chasing a sugar high sealed the deal. He was going through SEAL training, and I told him I didn’t want to be a skinny runner guy. He said I should try CrossFit. I said, like we all do, “what is CrossFit?” He explained they were doing the workouts at BUD/S. His instructor was none other than Dave Castro, which he didn’t mention and would have meant nothing to me at the time. He explained CrossFit was workouts that mixed strength training and cardio, much like a wrestling match. He also explained the workouts were written down, and you were expected to race through them and record your time. He also gave some tips – Squat mean Air Squat. He showed me how to do them. I was squatting then, so no problem there. He said that when doing pull-ups, you could kip. I could do 20 dead hang pull-ups at the time, but I used a kind of frog kip to do bigger sets, so no problem there. Finally he, said you’ll never bench. I was a bench on Monday guy, but I figured it wasn’t really working for me, so screw it.
Rob explained they posted a workout of the day on the CrossFit website, and you do the best you could to replicate it and record your time. He explained scaling a bit and sent me to the website. The workout for the day was 3 rounds for time of 500 meter row and 21 Bodyweight Bench press. I said, “WTF, you said there was no benching?” He probably just shrugged.
I went back to Brooklyn the next day. We had 1 old Concept 2 rower, and plenty of benches, so I did the workout. I used a stop watch, but I didn’t really start worrying about my time for a few months. Of course, the first round was easy and I blew through it. Somewhere in the second round, I started to get fucked up. I started sweating. Which, if you haven’t worked out in a globo gym in awhile is hard to do with all the AC. I limped to the finish and sat on the blue matted area by the rower, dizzy, sweaty, and seeing spots. It was great.
The next day was a 1rep max deadlift. I think I pulled 315. There was a rest day next which I found curious. I don’t remember what I did, but I certainly didn’t make up a workout. That was unheard of back then.
The next day was “Lynne” – 5 rounds of Max Effort bodyweight bench and pull-ups. Now, I could bench and do a lot of pull-ups. If you have ever done this workout, you will know that the lactic acid builds, and I remember it making me nauseous. I didn’t puke, but I got close.
Within a few days, I gave Cindy my first go. I’m pretty sure I got 11 rounds and was a total mess. But I was hooked.
I never would have imagined at that time that CrossFit would get me to move out west, get into coaching, get my family involved and make some of the best friends a guy could hope for. But it has. I can’t wait to see what the next 10 years bring.
Workout of the Day
6 sets of 2 snatches: 1 Mid Thigh Snatch, 1 From the Ground
Rest 90 seconds between set. Working weight should begin at 60% of 1RM. If you are perfect, you may increase weight across the lifts, to as much as 70% of 1RM.
Row for Calorie
Rower Facing Burpee
8 minute cap
Yes, I know we’ve done this before, and recently at that. But it’s a badass workout. And we’re going to do it again at Summer Slam