Thursday, January 17, 2008

Getting [Cross]fit

Hello friends, I realize it's been a super long time since I wrote anything, but I'd like to take a minute to tell you about something that's been taking up a little bit of my time over the past two months or so. It's called Crossfit and it's fucking awesome. Sorry about the profanity, but some things require so much emphasis that only an F-bomb adverb can sufficiently modify the "awesome."

As many of you know, I'm no slouch when it comes to working out. I'm no pro either, but my resume includes being a college distance runner and swimmer (full disclosure: Division III) and several triathlons including Ironman Wisconsin in 2004. I've also lifted weights pretty regularly since high school. What I'm saying is that there have been times in my life where I've been in pretty great shape.

Over the past two years or so, I had kind of let myself go. Some shin problems limited my running and the real world limited my time to do much of anything else. Plus I just wasn't as motivated to get in shape anymore. I stepped on the scale in November and was astonished to see that I weighted 192 lbs. I was FAT. Freshman year of college I was about 160lbs - still big for a runner, but it was mostly in my shoulders and I was definitely "fit" any way you sliced it. My weight fluctuated between 160 and 175 or so for years after that. When I ran Ironman three years ago I was around 165lbs. I don't recall ever being over 180 so I was shocked to see that I was over 190lbs!

So in late November I discovered, and started doing, Crossfit. Eight weeks later, I weigh 182 lbs and I'm jacked. My shoulders are bigger, my core is tighter, my legs are stronger and I'm probably just about at the elusive "best shape of my life" point. 182 is still bigger than normal for me, but I look about at good as I've ever looked, and I'm functionally more fit.

What is Crossfit? Crossfit is a training routine used by a lot of stud athletes, soldiers, cops, firefighters and those dudes in the movie 300 [Sort of. The guys in 300 trained with Gym Jones, which is a gym that employes many of the same concepts as Crossfit but it's kind of elitist]. Crossfit was developed by a guy named Greg Glassman. Practitioners like to say that its specialty is not specializing. It trains you in cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, agility, balance, coordination and accuracy all at the same time. It embraces gymnastic movements, Olympic lifts (squats, dead-lifts, cleans etc.) and metabolic conditioning and it scoffs at "isolation" exercises. A typical workout lasts around 20 minutes (but more like an hour if you warm up and do a "finisher") so it's easy to fit into a schedule. But it's hard.

Most of the workouts consist of two or three different exercises done without rest and for time. For instance, yesterday I did a workout called "Fran" [Many of the workouts have girls' names. I'm not really sure why.] It consists of two exercises; Thrusters [basically a squat plus a push-press] with 95lbs, and pull-ups. You first do 21 reps of each, then 15 reps of each, and then 9 reps of each. I did it in about 11 minutes, which is actually pretty slow. But give me a break, I'm still working on the pull-ups and can't do more than like 5 in a row during a workout. The point is, it's short, but I guarantee you that you get more out of 11 minutes of Fran then you do from 45 minutes on an elliptical machine.

I'm sure I'll be posting more about crossfit. In the meantime, if you're interested in getting in fucking awesome shape, here's the official website. And if you're local, here's the website for Crossfit Milwaukee. Crossfit Milwaukee lets anyone try the Saturday noon class for free.


Erin Nevicosi said...

Good for you for getting back in such great shape. I checked out the web site - those series of exercises look brutal!

So do you pay per class or per month or what?

Danny from Milwaukee said...

I pay per class. I think it's $275 for 30 classes. He'll give you a free week if you want to try it out too. And the noon class on Saturday is always free. It's a great place. Trainers are really cool. The only down-side is location (by the airport).

Also, if you checked out the main crossfit webpage (, you probably saw the Workout Of the Day is posted FOR FREE every day. So I usually do two or three workouts per week at the gym and then two or three more at Bally's or my house.

Crossfit is awesome. You should try it Erin.