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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 publish it on the CrossFit Message Board 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.


My Alaska Sheep Hunt bagged me a fitness family



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”.



Die in here – survive out there!!

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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:

Originally Posted by Gary Moody (Post 1190195)
Enjoyed the story, thanks for posting it!

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:

Originally Posted by Guadalupe Camacho (Post 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. :)

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:

Originally Posted by Kate Dixson-Clark (Post 1198783)
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!

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:

Originally Posted by Greg Spaight (Post 1198818)
Great story. Congrats on a great journey.

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.

Andrew N. Casey 10-06-2013 12:52 PM

Re: Rejected article written for Crossfit Journal
 
nice man. congrats on a good hunt and on your new found life of fitness. i hope to get up that way and hunt someday. i am heading for a deer and elk hunt in a few days, so my reasons for training are much the same as yours.

Michael Keller 10-06-2013 02:39 PM

Re: Rejected article written for Crossfit Journal
 
Great write-up and journey Jim, thanks for sharing. Good job!!

David Narens 10-15-2013 02:44 PM

Re: Rejected article written for Crossfit Journal
 
I just got back from a stag hunt in the Scottish highlands. I was more than good to go due to my CF training also. I was on the stalker's heels the whole time while the men in our group were ready for a break on the third day. Being in physical shape is key to having fun on these hunting trips.

Jim Wojciehowski 10-16-2013 12:45 PM

Re: Rejected article written for Crossfit Journal
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by David Narens (Post 1201493)
I just got back from a stag hunt in the Scottish highlands. I was more than good to go due to my CF training also. I was on the stalker's heels the whole time while the men in our group were ready for a break on the third day. Being in physical shape is key to having fun on these hunting trips.

No doubt. Love to hear about your Scottish trip. PM me some contact info if you want to chat. Don't want to polute the board with talk from us "blood lusting Barbarians". ;)

I must say though, right now I have Moose, Caribou, and Dall Sheep in my freezer and the Sheep is just freaking amazing. I may have to try again next year. Sheep hunters, like all mountain hunters, have short memories when it comes to the pain.

Keep up the good work on the Crossfit. I can honestly say I'm probably in even better shape now than I was at the start of the hunt in August. I haven't been walking with the pack weighted though. I should probably keep that up as long as possible until we hit some major snow, which for us is probably not far off.

Andrew Bell 10-17-2013 09:42 AM

Re: Rejected article written for Crossfit Journal
 
Nice write up. Shame on the Journal for not wanting to publish this.

Jim Wojciehowski 10-17-2013 10:06 AM

Re: Rejected article written for Crossfit Journal
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Andrew Bell (Post 1201847)
Nice write up. Shame on the Journal for not wanting to publish this.

I'm sure they recieve many, many articles and that likely weighed heavily on their choice of whether to publish mine or not.

I do have to admit I was a little surprised at the rationale explained in the rejection email. I take it as meaning the Crossfit Journal is published for Crossfitters that are already aware of the fact that Crossfit can help one achieve physical goals dictated by activities pursued outside the Box.

Frankly for me, initially, that is exactly why I started Crossfitting. But as I tried to outline in the article I found so much more in that Box than just an exercise program. For Joyce and I it was the "fitness family" that adopted us that kept us coming back and keeps me coming back long after that Dall Sheep hunt.

Alden Hingle 10-24-2013 06:45 PM

Re: Rejected article written for Crossfit Journal
 
Jim - Nice write-up. I really enjoyed reading it; thank you for posting.

Jim Wojciehowski 10-30-2013 10:17 PM

Re: Rejected article written for Crossfit Journal
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Alden Hingle (Post 1203297)
Jim - Nice write-up. I really enjoyed reading it; thank you for posting.

58 eh? Turned 60 today. Already planning the next mountain hunt. :pepper:

Alden Hingle 10-31-2013 05:17 PM

Re: Rejected article written for Crossfit Journal
 
Happy birthday and good luck on the hunt. I'll be 59 in December. We're planning a camping vacation in Alaska when I retire in a couple of years. If I could get my company to let me take more than a two month sabbatical, we'd get there sooner. Lol We just know we'll need more than two months to see everything we want to see when we get there.

Jim Wojciehowski 11-01-2013 11:52 AM

Re: Rejected article written for Crossfit Journal
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Alden Hingle (Post 1204399)
Happy birthday and good luck on the hunt. I'll be 59 in December. We're planning a camping vacation in Alaska when I retire in a couple of years. If I could get my company to let me take more than a two month sabbatical, we'd get there sooner. Lol We just know we'll need more than two months to see everything we want to see when we get there.

Very wise of you to allot enough time to truly explore this great State. Many friends or relatives from the lower 48 come up and only have 7 - 10 days but look at a map and decide they will go to Denali, then to Seward and Homer, and don't realize they have set themselves up for 10 hours of driving leaving little time to actually enjoy the trip.

If you have any questions feel free to PM me.

Cheers
Jim

Jim Wojciehowski 12-26-2018 12:18 PM

Re: Rejected article written for Crossfit Journal
 
Update 6 years later. Still Crossfitting. We are both so glad we stuck it out way back when. We also learned how important nutrition can be and even though we were eating relatively clean with Paleo based choices we took it to the next level and started RP (Renaissance Periodization) 8 months ago. Feel like we have added rocket fuel to the mix. It's worth the try if you are interested. It can be socially challenging but you learn to work around that. Certainly easier also if there is household buy-in.


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