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Old 08-07-2010, 09:24 AM   #1
Kevin Oie
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CrossFit - Year One in Review

Hi all - first post... Long time lurker. I just recently finished my first year of CF at CrossFitMN and I thought I'd post the story of how it completely changed my life. I will also consider this a total victory if I get a comment by Jamie Skibicki
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One year ago today a man named Chuck Charbeneau dragged me to a place called CrossFit Minnesota. Technically, dragging my 5′7″ 220 pound *** to the gym could have been considered his workout of the day, but it wasn’t. We were getting to that.

A few weeks before this, he’d been researching and going on about different fitness modalities and broad based results over time or Navy SEALS and Olympic athletes wrapped in body armor, and since we sat pretty close to one another on the project, it piqued my interest. Mainly because I couldn’t understand what in the blue hell he was talking about. He showed me the CrossFit main site, a few of the example workouts of the day (WODs) and then said he’d been doing a baseline course at a nearby gym and I should totally go to the noon class with him. After digesting exactly what these guys were doing while timing themselves, I politely declined by tactfully saying “You people are ****ing crazy and I would die.”

Let’s back up a bit here.

A few weeks prior to this I took a week’s vacation. At several loved ones’ urgings, I went to the doctor for a physical. I hadn’t had one in years because I firmly believe ostriches are right – nothing’s wrong if I don’t know about it. So I was poked, prodded, drawn, and invaded. The results came in and I was forced to open the envelope and read them after being unable to successfully stick my head through my hardwood floor to avoid the task. It was bad. I knew I was out of shape, but my blood pressure was 140/88. My lipid panel looked as if I’d been drinking shots of canola oil, my good cholesterol was low, my bad cholesterol was high, and my blood sugar report indicated I was a Milk Dud away from Type II diabetes. On the bright side, I didn’t have the HIV.

The doctor told me I’d better do something. He didn’t have to fill in the “unless” part.

Flash forward to Chuck. He opened the trunk and let me out. I stood up in front of a one story warehouse-space-slash-office-stripmall. A sign taped up in front of the door read “CrossFitMN.” A few people ran by in a circuit that went around the building. I was thoroughly confused.

We headed in and I met Cat – one of the trainers for the day. I signed my waiver, changed, and then headed out for the warm up section of the workout. The white board in the gym noted that the warm up was two rounds of 10 pull ups, 10 sit ups, 10 push ups, 10 back extensions, 10 squats, 2 samson stretches, and a 400 meter run. So do that circuit, then do it again. That’s the warm up. Also, for my fellow Americans who don’t speak metric, 400 meters is a quarter mile. The warm up contains a half mile of running. A half mile. Of RUNNING. I was barely able to make it through one round of the warm up. I was spent at this point. The next section was instructional – we were learning the proper way to front squat. Luckily instead of any weights at all, we used sections of PVC pipe. Unfortunately when you learn to front squat, PVC or not, you have to squat a lot. I’ve never squatted – I wasn’t a weightlifting guy in high school, in college I just used the machines, and at Interalia I just did the bench, incline, military press trio 3-4 days a week. No lower body development at all. Squats hurt.

After the skill portion, the rest of the class gathered around the white board for an explanation of the WOD. Cat gently shook me from my fetal position and said we were going to do a workout called Baseline #1. It’s to get an overall feel for what my current state of fitness is so that the ramp up to doing the actual WOD can be scaled appropriately. Coming from Cat it sounded wonderful. What I should have heard was “I AM GOING TO KILL YOU.”

Baseline #1 – 500m row (on a Concept 2 rowing machine), 40 squats (bodyweight only), 30 situps, 20 push ups, 10 pull ups.

It doesn’t sound so bad. It really doesn’t. I got on the Concept 2. “3, 2, 1, GO!” she yelled, and started the stopwatch. I started rowing, pulling for all I was worth. I started losing steam after about 150 meters. I had to rest at 350m. I gingerly pulled myself down to 500m. There was absolutely nothing left in my tank. I wanted to quit. I wanted to go home, call it a day and just admit I couldn’t do this. Cat coached me through every pull, then every squat – encouraging, prodding, yelling. She never left. She pulled every situp out of me. Then every pushup, even though I was on my knees after 8 reps. Cat helped me over to the pullup bar and put a box under me and told me I was 10 jumps to freedom.

I landed on the box after pullup number 10. The stopwatch said 13:27 but I didn’t notice as I’d already staggered out the back door, crumpled against the side of a green dumpster, and was heaving out my breakfast. Cat came and sat next to me while I gently shooed the Grim Reaper back through the light at the end of the tunnel. She told me I did awesome and I should be proud of what I’d accomplished. I didn’t really feel that way. I’d barely made it through an introductory workout and then threw up. She helped me up, I somehow managed to change back into my work clothes, Chuck put me back in the trunk, and we went back to work.

Something strange happened. Things that ordinarily would have made me panic at work – deadlines, security issues, people trying to make their problems mine, were met with a different reaction from me than they were used to. I thought it was because I had absolutely no energy left to get all panicky about trivial work matters. It got me thinking about a lot of what had happened. What Cat said. If I were to compare myself to the guys who had been going to CrossFit for a while, of course I pale in comparison. They were strong, explosive, hardcore, with tons of endurance. I was weak, flabby, and unconditioned. She wasn’t talking about a comparitive value, but a relative value to myself. The work I did, for the shape I was in, was an awesome effort. One that I should be proud of. I could have given up at any time and just refused to continue, but I didn’t. I attribute most of this to Cat, though she’d deny it and say she was only there to bring out what I had, or some other fuzzy huggy happy stuff that probably involves horseys. I did feel like I pushed through a wall. Made of bricks. And then the bricks fell on me and no amount of ibuprofen could make the pain stop. But I broke through. I WAS proud of doing it. And I wanted to do it again and get better. Faster. Stronger.

It took me a few days to feel like going back to the gym. I was THAT sore. But I did go back. And I kept going. And going. And going.

It started off as just the pursuit of fitness. As a way to get into shape. A way to lift more weight for personal bragging rights. To get faster at rowing or running. To make my waist size shrink and my shirt size grow. Chuck and I would go a few days a week, but as he traveled in to Minneapolis to work on our project and went back home, I’d still go. There were people who were familiar faces, and we’d nod to one another as we came in. Soon the nods became greetings. Then commiseration after particularly brutal workouts. Then encouragement during the workouts. Then we began to know eachother’s names. Then we became Facebook friends. Then we started organizing nights out, or excursions to the shooting range. Then it became less about going to the gym to work out and more about going to the gym to meet my friends. We sweated and hurt together, we talked Paleo diets and punk rock. They made fun of me every time I lurched outside to get rid of some excess stomach contents. Well, except for that one time during Tabata This where I popped out during the one minute break, did my business, came back in, and finished, only missing one 20 second interval. You gotta admit that was hardcore. (con't in reply)
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Old 08-07-2010, 09:24 AM   #2
Kevin Oie
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Re: CrossFit - Year One in Review

In the past year I have set new personal records on all my lifts. I learned how to properly deadlift, front squat, back squat, snatch, and clean and jerk. I did my first unassisted pullup. I rid myself of the fear of falling off the GHD machine. I learned how to properly row. I know the difference between a high and low back squat. I still can’t climb a damn rope, or do double unders with any regularity, or do a muscle-up, but I’m working on it. I took a running class with Darcy, the human gazelle, and she managed to teach me how to make running not nearly as bad as I thought it was. I can now run a full 800m without pausing. Not fast, but nonstop, which for me is unbelivable. Ryan McDowell gave me a passion for Olymping lifting, so much so that I got my CrossFit Olympic Lifting Certification last month – brilliantly taught by the God of Oly Lifting, Mike Burgener. This filled me with such passion that I made a goal to myself – within 12 months I am going to compete in an Olympic Lifting competition. God help me the first time I go singlet shopping. Damian, class in and class out, taught me the skills I needed to perform all the movements safely, scaled workouts for me, coached, pushed me when I needed it, corrected me when I was doing something wrong, made me drop weight from the bar when my form went to ****, let me pursue my love of lifting heavy things by opening the gym early so I could do Starting Strength, and inspired me to push harder by doing the workouts during class with us. I can’t thank all the trainers enough for everything they’ve given me and driven me to do.

I’ve signed up to take my CrossFit Level 1 certification course over Labor Day weekend. I guess I’ll be officially able to lead a class, or open a CrossFit affiliate of my own (though I’m a computer nerd, not a gym owner). I’m mainly doing it to increase my knowledge about something I love, and to be able to help teach others and maybe share a little of my own passion with them. Maybe at the cert I’ll finally find the secret to keeping my knees out on my squats. I hope so.

Last month, just about the same time as I did last year, I went in for a physical. I was, again, poked, prodded, examined, and drawn. The results arrived and this time I didn’t bruise my head on the nicely finished lightly stained oak hardwood floor in my foyer. I opened the envelope. I was down from 220 pounds to 195. My blood pressure dropped from 140/88 a year ago to 104/68. My lipid panel looked wonderful. Good cholesterol way up, bad cholesterol down. Blood sugar, while still a bit high on the number side, was processing normally. I still didn’t have the HIV. Aside from my name at the top of the results sheet, I couldn’t tell that it was the same person from a year ago. In a lot of ways I think that’s accurate.

Today, one year ago, I performed Baseline #1 in 13:27. I asked Damian if I could do it again, just to see how far I’d come. This time there weren’t kneeling pushups. There weren’t box-assisted pullups. I did everything, as RX’d. Everything in 4:26.

There’s only one question I keep asking myself – how fast will I be able to do this on July 23rd, 2011?

I can’t wait to find out.”

Last edited by Kevin Oie : 08-07-2010 at 09:26 AM. Reason: I am a horrible person.
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Old 08-07-2010, 10:06 AM   #3
Mark E. Wallace
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Re: CrossFit - Year One in Review

And this is what it's all about. Great post, and great job, Kevin.
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Old 08-07-2010, 10:08 AM   #4
Tamara Cohen
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Re: CrossFit - Year One in Review



Fantastic write up! Congrats, and thanks for sharing.

Best part = reason for editing - "I am a horrible person."
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Old 08-07-2010, 05:36 PM   #5
Albert Chang
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Re: CrossFit - Year One in Review

Awesome journey! Found this to be a really good read. Keep up the good work.

It's too bad you threw up so many times though.
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Old 08-07-2010, 08:29 PM   #6
Benjamin R. Greene
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Re: CrossFit - Year One in Review

A very well written, funny, and inspiring post. Congratulations on all your improvement.

We read every day that illnesses of affluence are taking a horrible toll on the health of people in First World countries. Obesity, hypertension, diabetes, etc. are just incredibly common. If more people did CrossFit, our whole world would be a healthier and happier place.
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Old 08-08-2010, 10:43 PM   #7
Tim Barker
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Re: CrossFit - Year One in Review

Fantastic. Keep living your life man.
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Old 08-10-2010, 05:35 AM   #8
Shannon Mullens
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Re: CrossFit - Year One in Review

This was a hilarious and awesome read. Thank you for posting!
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Old 08-10-2010, 12:29 PM   #9
Arturo Garcia
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Re: CrossFit - Year One in Review

What others have said! Great testimonial, it was even funny! Great job!!
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Old 08-11-2010, 11:37 AM   #10
Walker Fenz
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Re: CrossFit - Year One in Review

Kevin, you rock! Thanks for sharing, and keep up the great work!
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