So I don't consider myself a gym snob at all.....au contraire, I have the greatest respect for people of all abilities in the gym. Anyone that's out there working out hard is a winner in my book.
Let's just say I'm somewhat conservative in my views on what is appropriate in the gym. If I ever give a sideways glance, it's to the posturing he-man who does bicep curls in the squat rack, or to the gaggle of high school kids who talk and text while occupying the bench press....and for the longest time, those legions of Crossfitters who do weird things like medicine ball throws and kettlebell swings in the weight room.
But for some inexplicable reason, when my 20-something front office assistant asked me if I'd like to try a Crossfit workout with him last Thursday (he's been bugging me about this for months), I blurted out a quick "Sure!"
Don't ask me why I said yes; I still don't know. I told him that I'd hang with any exercise they threw my way except for plyometrics....I don't jump.
So bright and early Thursday AM we go into this ratty old warehouse they call "The Box" and I'm the oldest dude there by about 25 years....all good, I just looked around and sized everybody up ready to kick some a$$!
The Workout of the Day (The "WOD") was Tabatas.....hi-intensity drills of 20 sec all out effort, followed by 10 sec rest....repeated 8 times for a total of 4 minutes, then on to the next exercise.
The exercises were;
- Kettlebell Swings - choose your own weight
- Russian Twists with a medicine ball
- Push-ups, except you release your hands at the bottom (weirdos!)
- Platform Jump-ups (I did step-ups....I'm pretty strict on doing only low impact stuff)
We were to do 4 minute Tabata's on each of these, then end with a Plank Challenge....we all gather around in a circle and hold a plank until there's just one person left holding it!
So as luck would have it, I started out with the Kettlebell swings. I have never done Kettlebell swings. I have always thought those who do Kettlebell swings were a bunch of fad-following fitness weirdos. I grabbed a 35 lb Kettlebell ("Ooohh, you grabbed a Pood for your first Kettlebell swing! Good luck!" exclaimed the chippy little 19-year old college girl to my right.....I just smiled and nodded like I knew what she was talking about)
I've done Tabata intervals before on a number of exercises....spin bike, rowing machines, overhead presses. Done right, you're supposed to go all out (a 9 to 10 on your Rate of Perceived Exertion - RPE). I went hard, but since this was my first time doing it, I focused on form, but wasn't quite sure what good form looked like. I noticed some folks hefting the kettlebell over their heads, some only chest high, some were squatting down way low, others were just bending at the waist thrusting the kettlebell far behind them, so I just did my own thing working up a good sweat.
And man did I work up a good sweat! This was hard work....I liked it!
Round and round we went, hitting each of the stations. Like any group event, once I'm in it, I'm all in. I cheer folks on, I get loud, I let out Victory yells when the strain kicks in.....I'm a motivator at heart!
Then we formed up in a circle for the plank challenge. I heard a couple of groans all around me. That's when I knew I had them....planks are my secret weapon.....I get in to my Ninja Zone and I can go on forever.
20-something instructor gal yells out "You should be able to hold this for a minute, if you can do 1 minute 15, then you're in good shape!" More groans.
Give me a freaking break! I'll go 2 minutes before I even start wondering about the time!
So there's 12 of us in the circle....I hear yelps of pain on either side of me....a few grunts then bodies crashing hard on the floor.
"90 seconds, how are we doing?" I hear from instructor gal. I look up....there's 4 of us left!
I smile and go back into Ninja mode. At 2 minutes I hear a loud "AARRRRGGHH" in front of me....3 of us left. Then, not 5 seconds later, I hear a "WHUMP" and another falls to the ground. Only two of us left now
At 2 minutes 10 sec, it's just me and 20-something instructor gal. My front office assistant looks over at me sheepishly, "Jeez boss you think you can hold out with your bum leg?"
"F* you dude, I've got paper clips and rubber bands holding this old body of mine together, but I'm thinking I've got 3 minutes in me.....how about you instructor girl, can you make it to 3?"
She's sweating big time, but gives me a nod
"OK, then let's go, hold on!" I let out a victory cry, "let's hold on for 3...somebody give us a countdown every 5 seconds!"
I let out my Braveheart yell and tell her to do the same.....she does and we alternate Belly Yells every few seconds till we get the 3 minute call.....then we both collapse to the ground.
Not too bad.....but I still think they're a bunch of weirdos....nonetheless, I felt good and I'm intrigued
Friday night I start researching Kettlebell Swings.....it figures they were invented in Soviet Russia.....I wonder if my Stasi trainer guy has a few stuffed in the back of his closet, along with a hammer and a sickle!
Done right, they appear to be pretty darn good ways to develop power through the hips & glutes, and can be a pretty effective aerobic workout. I looked up a couple of respectable videos on Youtube to get the form right and learned that the purpose is to drive with your hips, not to lift with arms & shoulders....interesting.
So I worked them in to my routine today. I did some intervals on the bike to get warmed up, then grabbed a 35 lb "Pood", set the timer on my workout app and did 10 sets of 30 second intervals. (Of course, I did these in the Aerobic Room and not in the Weight Room like those people who annoy me so much do!)
WOW! 3 hours later, I am still feeling it! I think these have some promise! It's a whole different kind of workout, using weights for speed and power, plus I felt an incredible stretch in my hamstrings the more I did....and I definitely need more stretching.
Here's a link to how it's supposed to be done:
I finished up with 6 rounds of Farmer's Carries using 55 lb dumbells! These are also one of my favorites. In the last 2 months of doing these, I can tell my grip and forearm strength has improved dramatically!
So the moral is, regardless of how weird you might think someone or something is in the workout world, it's always worth it to try something new.....you might just find something you actually enjoy!
Have a great night Spark friends!