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Jim Wojciehowski 08-27-2013 02:54 PM

Rejected article written for Crossfit Journal
At the request of trainers in my box I submitted an article with supporting photos to the Crossfit Journal regarding 9 months training for a remote Alaskan Brook Range Trip.

The rejection stated...

"Thanks for your submission. I enjoyed reading about the training and the hunt. Unfortunately, we are moving away from articles about how CrossFit prepared people for physical challenges as we've published quite a few of them and it's becoming clear that CrossFit can help you accomplish any physical task or goal.

I do think your article has value, and I'd encourage you to[B] publish it on the CrossFit Message Board[/B] or on your affiliate website so others can enjoy it. Thanks for taking the time to write to us, and best wishes for your training!"

Enjoy.... Had to post it in two parts do to length limits of message board.

[B]My Alaska Sheep Hunt bagged me a fitness family[/B]

Standing on a 6,400 foot high ridge line above the Arctic Circle in the remote Northern Brooks Range of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge I know how a bird of prey feels while looking down towards the food chain.

Much effort went into getting to this point but that began 9 months prior with a bit of dumb luck walking through the correct doorway.
My wife and I turn 60 years old this year and for her last birthday she requested I find her a “personal trainer”. I have to admit I was a bit prejudiced against the idea based on stories of friends who paid high hourly fees to have someone talk to them while they were on a treadmill. I have two nephews that Crossfit and both recommended I find a local box. I too needed some other form of exercise in order to prepare for the upcoming self guided, fly-in Brooks Range Dall Sheep hunt in 9 months.

Joyce and I visited Revolution Sports Training/Crossfit Alaska on Saturday November 17, 2012 just to watch a class. Looking back I think we were too scared to even show up with workout clothes. Tony Reishus, head trainer and part owner, greeted us warmly. Tony is built like an NFL strong side linebacker yet his personality puts one at ease. He went to great lengths to explain Crossfit and especially scaling since he realized with one look that a pull-up was not in the near future for either of the elders standing in front of him.

He asked, “Why do you want to Crossfit? Do you have a specific goal in mind?”

When I told him of the pending Brooks Range Dall Sheep hunt he lit up. Like many Alaskans Tony also hunts. He had not yet been able to try sheep but knew the physical challenge of mountain hunting. Climbing slopes with a pack full of light weight gear totally 50+ pounds is one thing but once an animal goes down the weight of the pack increases dramatically. All meat MUST be salvaged and if you add horns and a wet fleshed out cape to the mix you are talking serious weight.

Nervously, we showed up the following Friday on 11/23/12 the day following Thanksgiving for our first class. Like all newbie’s do, we looked at a dry erase board comprised of a foreign language of acronyms. We followed the lead of the rest of class and started into the warm up. That warm up alone was an adequate workout based on our initial fitness level but we marched on into the WOD. I can honestly say I asked Joyce to drive home after class because I was afraid of getting a leg cramp while driving.

We took the weekend off and returned on Monday. I look back now with amazement at how truly terrible we were at practically every movement. I doubt I could string three Burpees together without feeling like my lungs would explode.

I weighed 188 pounds with close to 30% body fat at the start of this journey. I find it disgusting now to even admit to those numbers. At the start of the Sheep hunt I weighed 157 pounds with 17% body fat. Joyce always had a good figure and “weight loss” was never her goal in this. She merely wanted to find a fun way to exercise. She could not do a single male style plank pushup in the beginning and now can rip off 17 hand release pushups in perfect form without a second thought.

Inspiration!! We both started hearing that word more and more from fellow Cross fitters. It wasn’t that we were killing WOD’s and finishing first it was more the fact we always gave it our all and showed up to class with consistency. With that effort came physical accomplishments measured in small steps.

I fondly remember the first day Joyce climbed the rope to the top. As she relates her perspective she was ready to give it up three quarters of the way up but the entire class stopped their WOD and started cheering. Joyce knew she had no choice but to touch that beam.

A simple request for a personal trainer found us a fitness family. A family that supports. A family that encourages. And for us a family that appreciates our effort and achievements.

We started with a one month membership. A test drive if you will. I asked Joyce at the end of the month if she wanted another month. Her answer was a firm “No, I want three months”. And so it happened. Our lives changed.

Jim Wojciehowski 08-27-2013 02:55 PM

Re: Rejected article written for Crossfit Journal
We started eating Paleo/Primal which fits easily into an Alaskan hunting and fishing lifestyle. We also grow our own greens and veggies as much as possible with our short growing season.

I never lost focus on my reason for Cross fitting. As spring finally broke I continued at the box but also added hikes in the mountains behind my house with progressively heavier pack weights.

Some folks may question the usefulness of different exercises done in a Crossfit box. What the heck are you ever going to use the ability to do a sandbag get up for? Joyce calls them “turtle ups” because the first time she tried them she was stuck on the floor looking like a turtle lying on the back of its shell. If you want to know how useful they are then put some Sheep meat, a wet Cape and skull with horns in addition to your gear in a backpack, strap it on and try to get up.

The support and encouragement of our fitness family transcended the box. Brett and Jena, my two hunting partners on this trip, both half my age, joined Crossfit Alaska a few months before the trip. Essentially they supported me throughout the adventure and selflessly gave me first dibs on a legal Ram.

On the long two day trek back to base camp with a 100+ pound pack on my back descending uneven ground from 5,300 feet where I had shot the Sheep, I heard voices in my head. They were not auditory hallucinations from fatigue. The voices were recognizable. Tony was explaining that Rich Froning does not think about the pain or how many more reps he can get. He simply thinks about making every rep as efficient as possible. I made that two day trek out by taking one step at a time and I made the most of those steps.

Even when you hit the flat ground on the way from the mountain to base camp the tundra is like walking on deep wet sand. It sucks the strength from your legs and it challenges you to keep your balance. I heard the voice of Ashley Bates, one of my favorite trainers telling me to keep going. I also heard a chorus of encouragement from the rest of my fitness family. I almost felt like I had to finish that walk for all of them. They knew why I started in the box and once the Sheep went down where it stood with one clean shot there was no turning back. This WOD had to be completed.

Now that my successful Dall Sheep hunt is over and the meat is cut up and nicely vacuum packed in my freezer, I have no plans on stopping Crossfit. On the contrary, there are still movements I have not mastered and I will work on them one at a time.

Double unders eluded me for months. I found it extremely frustrating when the WOD included them. I have no ego problem about the amount of weight I can lift but not being able to perform part of a WOD disappoints me. I would get to class early and work with my speed rope. I had the slash marks on my arms to prove it. Finally when one of the trainers, who saw my frustration, volunteered that she too could not get them for a long time I relaxed about it. One day the sweet sound of that rope whistling under my feet and a personal rhythm brought success. I’m still inconsistent with them but I know as I practice them that one day double unders with be second nature.

I love a challenge and since Crossfit is about personal improvement, the philosophy works perfectly for me.

Joyce and I will finish a class go home, relax, and eat and then find ourselves talking about class. We have become cheerleaders for this great exercise program. One Sunday Joyce’s sister Raetta from Pennsylvania, who has been using a personal trainer at home for years and is in excellent shape, called to say hi. Two hours later we realized the sole topic of our three way conversation was Crossfit and how addicted we were. I think Raetta believed we joined a cult.

She found a box two blocks from her house and gave it a try. She’s hooked. Daily emails relate tales of her aches, achievements, and frustrations. We joined her at her box on a trip back East and found the same warm welcome there and a bit of “celebrity status” from wearing our Crossfit Alaska shirts. I suppose folks are a bit shocked that the “Last Frontier” might also know about Crossfit. We have also had the pleasure of doing a WOD in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico at an affiliate while on vacation.

The Crossfit family transcends language and geography and we are all fortunate to be part of that family. The hard work day in and day out in that box makes life outside the box easier. Our motto at Crossfit Alaska is a simple one and applies well to the “Last Frontier”.

[B]Die in here – survive out there!! [/B]





Gary Moody 08-27-2013 04:37 PM

Re: Rejected article written for Crossfit Journal
Enjoyed the story, thanks for posting it!

Jim Wojciehowski 08-28-2013 12:53 PM

Re: Rejected article written for Crossfit Journal
[QUOTE=Gary Moody;1190195]Enjoyed the story, thanks for posting it![/QUOTE]

Thanks!! Glad you liked it.

Guadalupe Camacho 08-28-2013 01:15 PM

Re: Rejected article written for Crossfit Journal
Wonderful article! Congrats on reaching new milestones. I'm a new Crossfit addict myself and I'm excited to experience the thrill of getting down some new moves. :)

Jim Wojciehowski 08-28-2013 01:57 PM

Re: Rejected article written for Crossfit Journal
[QUOTE=Guadalupe Camacho;1190458]Wonderful article! Congrats on reaching new milestones. I'm a new Crossfit addict myself and I'm excited to experience the thrill of getting down some new moves. :)[/QUOTE]

Keep on, keeping on.... one step at a time.

I think I rushed things the first month or so and I'm very lucky not to have ended up with a workout delaying injury.

Kate Dixson-Clark 10-03-2013 03:40 PM

Re: Rejected article written for Crossfit Journal
Loved the article! I am fairly new to CF but at 45 years of age, I am loving it!

Wonderful description of the "family" created around getting stronger...
Thank you for sharing!

Greg Spaight 10-03-2013 05:25 PM

Re: Rejected article written for Crossfit Journal
Great story. Congrats on a great journey.

Jim Wojciehowski 10-03-2013 05:43 PM

Re: Rejected article written for Crossfit Journal
[QUOTE=Kate Dixson-Clark;1198783]Loved the article! I am fairly new to CF but at 45 years of age, I am loving it!

[B]Wonderful description of the "family"[/B] created around getting stronger...
Thank you for sharing![/QUOTE]

Thank you!! That's what we are at Crossfit Alaska. I couldn't believe how thrilled everyone was in the Box that I had a successful hunt. A DIY (do it yourself) Sheep hunt is very physically demanding and I really needed those voices in my head on the way out.

This was a "family" hunt.

Jim Wojciehowski 10-03-2013 10:11 PM

Re: Rejected article written for Crossfit Journal
[QUOTE=Greg Spaight;1198818]Great story. Congrats on a great journey.[/QUOTE]

Thank you Sir. The journey continues even though the initial goal was achieved. That's the true meaning of the article. I had a selfish reason for walking into that Box yet the "family" I found transcended the reason.

It's been two months since the Sheep hunt and I'm in better shape now than at the start and have no limits in sight.

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