superdave kim asked me how easy it is to start crossfit.

2013년05월13일; 월요일 아침, 831a: well, it was another busy weekend.  it was mother’s day on sunday, and we had a wedding to attend on saturday.  friday evening was spent at a fun dinner at the rivermark red robin.  you know, my friend daniel can be kind of cynical in some ways, and i just sort of humourously said “happy valentine’s day” to him and he replied something like “you mean, happy women’s appreciation day.”  eh, i don’t want to think it’s that extreme; but in marriages and relationships (hetero ones), in the end, all these celebrations – valentine’s day, anniversaries, birthdays, even christmas, and then mother’s day once you have kids – put guys on the spot in that they need to come up with some present, fancy dinner, etc. for the girl/woman.  you have to admit that it’s kind of skewed, isn’t it?  eh, oh well…

anyway, it’s monday now.  i made it to my usual 600a class at norcal crossfit san josé.  i liked the wod (workout of the day) today.

21-15-9 (21 reps, then 15 reps, and then 9 reps)
1) front squats (95 pounds)
2) pull.ups
3) burpees

i finished in 10:14.  i felt good about my performance.  all of last week was good.  so far, this week is good.  we’ll see how tomorrow goes.  at some point, though, i may have to start skipping crossfit classes in order to work on dj stuff since i have dj gigs coming up.  when that time arrives, i’ll still need to make it to at least three classes each week in order not to lose money to gympact!

anyway, our friend superdave kim asked me on facebook today “how hard was it to start doing crossfit?”  he posted that as a comment to my check.in to “the box” (we call crossfit gyms “boxes”), but i decided to respond in a blog post instead since i really can talk at great lengths on this topic.  people might say that i am fully “brainwashed” on crossfit.  i obviously do like it, enjoy it, and am  enthusiastic  about it.  however, i don’t think i have lost objectivity on the subject.

superdave also said in his comment, “it may not be good to gauge by you since you’ve always been crazy athletic,” referring to the feedback i’m about to provide.  however, i wasn’t always “crazy athletic!”  forget not that i was once a really fat kid.  it wasn’t until i started doing taekwondo in college at cal that i started to slim up and get a little fit.  (as i keep saying) although i really want to do taekwondo again; currently, it feels as if crossfit has displaced taekwondo in my life.  crossfit is similar to taekwondo: it is a group exercise environment that tests your agility.  there is a philosophical element as well as a competitive element.  in fact, recently, i’ve observed a bit of a dichotomy or at least a polarisation based upon those two elements: an 음 eum and a 양 yang (a ying and a yang).  i notice that some schools or “boxes” align more with sort of an older more “traditional” view of crossfit as holistic fitness, where has some “boxes” go more toward the competition aspect.  think about the reebok crossfit games.  being that my box was started by a reebok crossfit games winner and is run by many other top crossfit games competitors, i feel it does lean more toward the competition side, and i don’t mind.  it’s like how i am totally down with olympic style taekwondo in contrast to more old.fashioned taekwondo.  i mean, i like both but simply don’t mind that olympic style taekwondo is the more prevalent and popular of the two.  i don’t even dream of becoming a bigtime crossfit competitor, but i feel it helps to train alongside serious competitors.

[later] 밤, 926p: after doing crossfit for a year, i realise now just how much of an advantage my body shape is for taekwondo.  when i first started taekwondo, i was fat and a little bit shorter.  then i lost weight and grew a couple of inches taller throughout college.  i realise that i am relatively tall, long.legged, and light; relatively.  that body shape is an advantage for taekwondo but not for olympic style weightlifting or gymnastics.  i guess crossfit quickly exposes your weaknesses (or areas for development).  short and stocky people have an advantage in weightlifting.  short top.heavy people have an advantage in gymnastics.  small and light people have an advantage in long.distance running.  tall, long.legged, light people have an advantage in short.distance sprinting.  well, crossfit forces you to do all of these and more.

well, what else can you expect when you start crossfit?  at first, you’ll spend your mental and physical energy learning technical movements.  again, this process reminded me of taekwondo.  kicking and punching efficiently and lifting and pulling efficiently both require repetitive practice with good feedback from instructors.  while learning the technical movements, you’ll most likely “scale” the wods (workout of the day): you’ll either drop down from the “prescribed” weights/heights/reps/durations or use mechanical aids such as resistance bands, boxes, posts, etc. for support.  for example, many people start crossfit without the ability to do a pull.up.  now, oftentimes, crossfit haters bag on its use of “kipping” and “butterfly” pull.ups, but that is a weak point since we also do “normal” pull.ups; we just call them “strict” pull.ups.  anyway, people who can’t do pull.ups oftentimes sub out that exercise for ring rows, in which you keep your feet on the ground and pull your reclined body upwards with your hands on suspended gymnastics rings.  when people say crossfit is too intense for non.athletes, they are either choosing to ignore the built.in “scalability” or have only seen the “bad apple” boxes that don’t use it enough.

when you first start crossfit, the coolest thing is the olympic style weightlifting with bumper plates.  i think, for most people, crossfit is the first exposure to that kind of weightlifting.  i know, i always wondered why i kept seeing signs at gyms (“globogyms”) that prohibited the dropping of weights.  i mean, i always figured, “gee, you really have to be an annoying jerk to be dropping weights all the time.”  now, i realise that doing olympic style weightlifting requires dropping weights because that allows you to push yourself to heavier and heavier loads.  however, that’s only good with bumper plates, rubberised plates that are bigger than what you’d expect because of the padding.  probably the next coolest thing are the pull.up rigs that allow you to throw your weight around to do all sorts of exercises that are more useful than just “strict” pull.ups on some flimsy bar screwed into your doorframe.  rope climbs, handstand exercises, and jumprope double.unders are also fun things to work on… unless they get frustrating, in which case you just have to kind of put them aside and come back to them.  right now, i still can’t do a “muscle.up,” which is basically a pull.up on the gymnastics rings into a ring dip.

you’ll notice that crossfitters have a love/hate relationship with running.  well, some love it and some hate it.  (crossfit seems to promote minimal/pose running.)  some are just into heavy weights at low reps and seem at odds with endurance athletes (long distance cyclists, marathoners, triathletes).  however, you’ll find many endurance athletes in crossfit too.  you find people who seem to be up for any kind of challenge.  well, at the same time, you’ll find lots of more laidback people too.

like most things in life, it’s mostly a “you get what you put in” kind of thing.  in other words, it’s possible just to coast by and not really push yourself that hard and just kind of “keep up.”  well, some coaches/trainers may eventually intervene and tell you to step up your game.  at the same time, sometimes people just go through periods of their lives when they need to take things down a notch for a while.  like, some people get really busy with work or kids for a while.  the thing about crossfit is that there are many metrics and you can really track your progress or lack thereof (whether stagnation or purposeful rest and recovery).  in addition to that, though, every day is a new day!   you have a bad day but then come in to a new wod the next day and get a different outcome.

one of crossfit’s mottos is “forging elite fitness.”  coming from the 24 hour fitness “globogym” environment; yeah, i did notice a difference that could set crossfit as relatively “elite.”  i notice that the average person at a crossfit box is significantly more fit than the average person at a 24 hour fitness.  at first, i wondered if i was just getting sucked into an elitist fitness culture.  however, if you’ve been in both environment, you must agree that it’s a no brainer that the average person at a crossfit gym is more fit than the average person at a 24 hour fitness.  it’s quite an obvious difference.  it’s not because 24 hour fitnesses don’t have fit people.  (after all, i see really buff people at the free weights and endurance monsters in fitness classes.)  rather, it’s because crossfit boxes have less of those people who aren’t fit and are just barely exercising.  there are plenty of people at crossfit boxes that don’t have perfectly chiseled bodies with chocolate abs (a magnificent korean.english term).  in fact, you’ll probably see a few people that look like biggest loser contestants.  yeah, some are newcomers that are about to lose a lot of bodyfat; but, yeah, others are people that have been doing crossfit for a while but just can’t lose the fat.  people say that crossfit is about functional fitness not looks.  that’s up for debate though because, as you’d expect, the most accomplished crossfitters, whether male or female, definitely have physiques that are generally considered aesthetically pleasing.

that reminds me, though, how people say crossfit gyms are less of a meat market than you typical “globogyms.”  in general, i think that’s true as most people are so focused on their exercises that they can zone out the people around them in so much as it could be a hot girl next to you or a big, stinky, sweaty guy but you just don’t care because you just want to get through the wod with the best score possible.  at the same time, i do think i see single people “mingling” or flirting now and then; and i think some people show up to class “dressed to impress.”  however, i don’t know; there are other reasons for that too, as crossfit has developed a certain culture that includes certain fashion among other things.

i have had friends, upon hearing that i do crossfit, ask me if i do “the diet.”  yeah, crossfit has been associated with the paleo diet for years now.  however, i have heard that officially crossfit is more aligned with the zone diet.  i don’t know.  my box talks plenty about the paleo, primal, primal zone, and gluten.free diets; but i guess they aren’t as strict about it as other boxes.  i think this may be where crossfit sometimes gets labeled a cult: when a box really forces their members to stick to a strict paleo diet and then the members’ friends freak out when the crossfitter can’t eat pizza.  eh… *shrug*  i’ve been through so much of the restrictive diet thing just because the beautiful kaela hwang’s a holistic chiropractor.  i put myself on a lacto.paleo/primal diet before i first step foot inside a crossfit box.  my crossfit friends typically like to hear that i care about my diet, but most don’t feel they have the right to judge it.  i think this is just many of the cultural elements that vary in the crossfit community from box to box.

thus, i suppose my discussion of what to expect when starting crossfit really depends on where you start; and i really don’t know a whole lot of different boxes, having only attended classes at two so far.  i don’t know; i kind of feel that’s about all i can say on this topic.  what do you think?  most of the meat of my answer (most of the helpful stuff) is found in that paragraph that starts “when you first start crossfit.”

sooni attended her first crossfit class last friday.  she can probably answer all your questions about crossfit.

sooni attended her first crossfit class last friday. she can probably answer all your questions about crossfit.

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