Friday, May 17, 2013

Crossfit Ansbach

Part of the adventure of moving here has been joining the Crossfit gym in Ansbach, a town that is about thirty minutes away from where we live. Joining the gym has been one of the most rewarding ventures I have taken up in a long time and for many different reasons.

I have been interested in Crossfit since my brother, Chris, joined a Crossfit gym in Loveland while I was living with him. At the time, the gym was way out of my price range (I was unemployed at the time and not married and only living off savings...) and I felt as if I was nowhere near fit enough to try. Crossfit may be one of the most intimidating workout regiments I have ever encountered. I think most people would agree that no matter how much Crossfitters advocate for it, or how interesting it sounds, it is a milestone to actually set foot in "the box" (barebones Crossfit gym) for a "WOD" (workout of the day). My brother always told me that every workout could be set to a scale and any person at any level of fitness was welcome and would be able to benefit. Lets be honest. I did not believe that shit! If my brother, who is a strong and atheletic man, could come home after every day's workout completely exhausted, sweaty, and sore there was no way in hell I could keep up!

Over the past couple of years I have tried a lot of different workout programs and classes. I started out lifting with Cody at the Fort Rucker gym, I then did a running program to try to banish my hatred of jogging (it was succesful until I injured my foot), and I eventually ended up trying almost every group workout class at Rucker. I became a huge fan of yoga, zumba (after being forced to go the first time, I fell in love with this fun and silly cardio), circuit training, and weight lifting classes. I was so sad to leave my classes behind because I was no longer motivated to go to the gym by myself and lift bi and back, or plod along on an eliptical for thirty minutes.

When we showed up here in Illesheim and got picked up by our wonderfully amazing sponsors, Tiff and Chris, we quickly found out that in their active and busy lifestyles they attended a Crossfit gym. Cody, who was the less interested of the two of us, ended up going to a class with Chris one afternoon because we both were feeling pretty awful about not working out for over a month. He came home and told me how much he loved it and that I should attempt to go with him. Tiff pushed me to go one morning with her, Chris, and Cody by telling me that the owner, Rob, would have his wife there to do a beginner's workout with me. I was assured that I would be off to the side, not attempting the WOD, and it would be a pretty simple day for me, even though I hadn't worked out in ages. We got to the gym and found out that we were going to end up working out with the group afterall! I was really nervous, but at that point, it wasn't like I could back out...
This day is when Rob and Crossfit earned my complete loyalty, love, and respect. I won't go into all the details, but Rob was so attentive and was always making sure I put my form above all else. I could have done more, but he made sure I didn't push myself too hard, and that I learned everything the correct way. Even with going slow, I was still pleasantly ass-kicked by the end of the workout. I felt challenged but not defeated.

Since that first workout less than a month ago, I have only fallen more in love with Crossfit Ansbach. I can't speak for every Crossfit gym, but there is none of the judgement or cliquish-ness that you may expect at such a hardcore gym. There is the greatest community feeling no matter what workout you go to (Rob and his trainers are amazing and provide a ton of AM and PM classes for anybody's schedule) and I love that there are always locals and military members/spouses/family members working out together. Everybody really does work on their own level and focuses totally on themselves, but even though nobody is paying attention to others in a judgemental way, everybody is focused on encouraging eachother and pushing everybody around them to finish the workout. I have finished last or not met the time limit for several WODs and although that is something that would make me feel inadequate and embarassed anywhere else, I have always felt accomplished and proud of finishing at Crossfit Ansbach.

What brought on this whole post is how amazing I feel about my accomplishments in the gym today :) I got a terrible nights sleep last night after having some drinks with friends last night and did not expect much out of myself today. I got to the gym and the class before me was covered in sweat and the board was full of all sorts of numbers and lifts... I knew today would not be a day where we took it easy.
I completed the warm up and moved on to the first workout: 10-8-6-6-4-4-4-4 deadlifts, working up to max weight, and doing a set every two minutes. I worked up to 55 kg on the last 4 deadlifts, which is equivalent to 121 lbs! I had no idea what my max was, and I may have been able to eek out 1 rep at 60 kg,  but I am awfully proud of 55kg nonetheless!
The next workout was a 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 deadlift, pushup, ball slam which had a ten minute time limit... when I saw that time limit, and started thinking about the workout, I literally thought that there was no way I would get even half finished in time. I started with the prescribed 40kg and made it to the set of 8 reps and couldn't finish. I dropped down to 30kg and I'll be damned if I didn't finish the workout at exactly 9minutes59seconds! With the trainers and my workout partners all coming over to give me high-fives and hugs for finishing right in time and completing a workout I didn't think was possible, I felt incredible! I think I will be on a high the rest of the day :)
If you live in this area, you have to check out Crossfit Ansbach. If you don't, you should never be intimidated by joining a Crossfit gym. The results you will see, the accomplishment you feel, and the community you join makes it so worth it!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Our Aparment, Our Town, Our Area

I would love to start out this update by telling you that it is a beautiful day here in Bavaria- the sun is shining, it is pleasantly warm, and there are flowers blooming everywhere! There are many very interesting differences about where we now live and the states, but the one that I think I have appreciated the very most are all the walking trails. I know what you are thinking of when you read "walking trail", because in the states it is usually a bike trail in a park, or maybe even a sidewalk that goes through town. I want you to imagine driving through a very rural area and seeing "sidewalks" all the way along the road; not connected to the road like an American sidewalk, but set aside as its own trail with different trails leading back as far as your eye can see into the fields... this is what they have here in Bavaria.
We live on the outskirts of Bad Windsheim, and backing up to our "neighborhood" are some of these never-ending trails. Some are paved and some are paths made by farm equipment, but during all times of the day they make for a lovely walk that starts right outside our front door! Cammy loves it out there because as long as there aren't other dogs around I can let her off her leash to frolic as she pleases. I've heard that last year it was almost too stinky to enjoy the trails because all the fields were growing corn and they had to be fertilized (or shitted, as our friend explained, haha) all the time. This year they are growing wheat, and there is no unpleasant smell to encounter- just lush grass and beautiful blooms.

Anyway, that is a little bit about the area we live in, so I guess I will go ahead and tell you about the town. Bad Windsheim has been around since 741 according to some documents and it now holds about 12,000 people. We are about a twenty minute walk from the train station, which is on one end of what I know as the cobblestone-street-section of Bad Windsheim; there are tons of restaurants, a few bakeries and butchers, little stores/shops, and really historical structures. Cats roam about here and the ones we have encountered are very friendly and must be very well-fed (they are HUGE), but we have heard there are some feral barn-cats, too. The townspeople have been so friendly, always saying "hallo" when we pass, and they seem to appreciate that we at least try to communicate in German. Or they at least find it funny, which is probably more likely with how much we butcher their language! It is truly one of the most charming places I have ever been in my life. It also takes me ten minutes total from sitting down in my car at our apartment to getting out of my car on post, so we are at a super convenient spot for a quick commissary trip or for Cody to get to work.

I was really bummed out about our place at first because I had my heart set on a quaint German town with no American neighbors. It has turned out to be such a blessing because of the people we share our building with! Our apartment building is fairly new and each apartment has its own storage room in the basement, two parking spots, and we share a shed to store our garbage cans, bikes, yard equipment, etc.
We live on the first floor and have a large living area that opens up onto our back patio and the fenced, side-yard of the building (which we all share, but is basically ours). We have a great kitchen that happens to have a "closet" in it that makes a wonderful pantry; this is odd because German housing doesn't have closets usually, and definitely not pantries, so we just ended up with an odd storage room in the right place! We have a small spare bedroom and a nice sized master bedroom and one bathroom. The bathroom has the most wonderful bathtub I have ever enjoyed in my life, it even ties with the one in my childhood home, which has never had a rival before (I value a good bath, as you can tell, haha). Oh, and we have a laundry room with our own machines, which none of the other apartment buildings have. To top it off, we have the absolute best neighbors we could have asked for- they are great people and are already invaluable friends.
We haven't gotten our household goods yet, and we don't know when they will come, but we were loaned a coach, some chairs, a dining table, a bed for each room, two dressers, and four wardrobes (we will keep the wardrobes when we turn in all the other rental furniture- no closets here!). We also went out and splurged on some new furniture that is more the style that we enjoy than what we already have. We bought a new couch and side table and also a dining table and a candle chandelier to hang above it. I actually can't wait to decorate our new place, which is a change considering I've never had a clue how to decorate before. Ok, I still have no idea how to do it, but I at least have ideas and I think they just may work! We don't have internet yet, but our neighbors have been letting us steal their WiFi and I am currently on one of their computers typing because my kindle makes typing into hell. As I said, best neighbors ever! This is the second post where we have had such great luck with neighbors/friends and I'm starting to think that the people are one of my favorite parts of Cody being in the military...
That is basically everything I can think of and I am getting impatient to get back outside on this perfect Spring day! I'm sure I will think of plenty more tid-bits to share with you soon, until then, tcheuss!

Two Weeks Down....

I'm going to go ahead and lay out lists of what we did the first week of being here and then I will fill in all the most interesting details from there. If you have any questions about how any of the processes went, please ask!

Day 2 (Wednesday, April 24)
*Had our first German breakfast at our guesthouse (fresh rolls and muffin from the bakery, cheese and meat slices, preserves, coffee, and even some eggs)
*Went to housing, had to wait to figure out priority on choosing our house
*Went to T-Mobile and got our first phone
*Set up our post office box
*Set up a new bank account
*Checked out Cody's new office in the hangar
*Had lunch in Bad Windsheim (mmm currywurst and potato salad)
*Picked out our apartment in Bad Windsheim
*Chris and Cody went to do Crossfit in Ansbach and Tiffany and I had dinner
*Went to the grocery store and met our new neighbors, Chad and Bri

Day 3 (Thursday, April 25)
*Went to Katterbach (the base in Ansbach) to continue in-processing
*Went to the PX and had lunch
*Tiffany took us to housing, the commissary, TKS (for internet and a house phone), and the library
*Back at Tiff and Chris's house we used the internet, made phone calls, and set up the delivery of our unaccompanied baggage (the first set of items we sent over- some clothes, sheets, air mattress, pots and pans), then had dinner
*Went to our apartment and were invited over to Chad and Bri's for drinks and met an upstairs neighbor, Shannon
*Studied for our driver's test
Day 4 (Friday, April 26)
*Went to our driver class and took our tests (we both scored a 95%)
*Fixed the phone, had lunch, went to the commissary, library, and ACS for VAT forms (more on these later)
*Tiff brought us back to our apartment for our inspection
*Naptime and walk-time with Shannon and the pups
*Went to the Hail and Farewell for our battalion for Cody to get hailed in

Day 5 (Saturday, April 27)
*Olsen (Cody's friend from flight school) drove us to Katterbach/Ansbach so we could go to the PX, Pilipps (furniture store), and OB (hardware store)
*We painted our apartment!
*Out to eat in Bad Windsheim (delicious Thai food)
*Had a beer with Olsen and Chad

Day 6 (Sunday, April 28)
*laaaaaazy day...
*Walk to Bad Windsheim for late lunch
*Walk around the center of Bad Windheim, found the church, bakeries, and butcher shops
*Walked back home for a nap, shower, and over to Bri and Chad's to relax

Day 7 (Monday, April 29)
*Relaxed at the house and researched German phrases and made a grocery list for the week
*When Cody got home from picking up the car (yay!) we got ready for my birthday dinner!!! Our neighbors were kind enough to set up a dinner for me at Franco's, an Italian restaurant in town
*Enjoyed dinner with Bri, Chad, Shannon, Rocky, Megan, Josh, and Rob at the restaurant and drinks at Shannon and Rocky's afterwards

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Update 1: The Flight to Germany!

So, we are safely in Germany and have been here for a little over a week now! We have amazing neighbors who are allowing us to use their internet until we get ours installed, but I unfortunately don't have any devices with a keyboard, which makes updating a blog close to impossible :( But, here I am in the library for a few minutes so here are some updates for you! I believe the best way to go about this is to write in sections; I want to put out information for other family members who may be PCSing to this area, and also personal information for my friends and family members who don't have a need for all the ARMY mumbo-jumbo :).

Lets start with some PCS info from DAY 1:

As you all know, I was the most nervous about flying with our fur babies. I had never flown with a pet before and had no idea what to expect. Plus, every airline is different, and no matter how much you research, you never know exactly how your animals will react to the situation. For those of you PCSing overseas out of Birmingham with AMC, this is how the process works:

We had an early evening flight and arrived at the airport in the early afternoon. We had to build our dog's kennel at the airport because it was too big to fit in the back of the car with all of our luggage; but the unloading area at AMC is large enough to take your time getting situated and the security guards will not rush you away like they will at normal airport unloading areas. In fact, they even let my mom sit in her car at the doors until we had succesfully checked-in! If you have a large dog like us and can't imagine how you will transport your animal inside of its crate throughout the airport, go up to the AMC desk and they will unlock a huge cart for your use (think Costco flat-cart style). We piled up our luggage and our animals onto the cart and went to check-in.

Check-in is a super simple process! Have your passports, military IDs, and animal records ready and all will go very smoothly for you. Animals cost $115 dollars each and we paid double for our dog because she weighs over 70 pounds (including her crate). They took our checked bags and we held onto the fur-babies and our carry-on luggage for the few hours. There is an outdoor area to walk dogs and let them go potty, and we were lucky that all of our animals stayed nice and quiet in the airport. A half hour before our boarding time, we took our pets to a designated area, gave them a couple treats and filled up their waters, and they were taken to put on the plane. Then we went through security ourselves (there is a small security area for AMC and it goes quickly, so you don't need to rush through it hours early). If you are traveling with a pet in-cabin, you will have to carry your pet through security with you, so make sure to have a harness and leash available to avoid any mishaps!

Once we got on the plane, it was smooth sailing for seven hours :) The flight went quicker than I imagined and we were very well taken care of by the flight attendents- including several passes with drink carts, snack carts, coffee breaks, and dinner service. Every seat has a pillow, blanket, earphones and a view of a screen to watch movies. I personally couldn't sleep for the first time ever on a long, overnight flight, but they do turn down the lights in the cabin so everybody can get some shut-eye.

Landing and de-boarding in Ramstein was fast and simple. Cody was seperated from me to fill out some PCSing paperwork and I followed everybody else down to the passport check/baggage claim/pet pick-up. Our dog was very worked up when I got to her crate and it was sad to make her wait in the crate until we could get all of our baggage and go through customs, but ultimately, the animals were alive and well so it wasn't the worst situation I had imagined! We were also given another large cart for transporting our animals and luggage through the airport (thankfully!). After customs and a potty-break for the pets, we dropped our luggage and animals off in a room and were directed to another area with the other soldiers/families PCSing. We ended up having to wait 5 hours at Ramstein for buses to take us to our new posts, but that isn't always the case, it all depends on the flight you are arrive on. During our wait, we did get an hour lunch break to go into the airport and grab Subway, and with access to our pets we were able to take the pup on several walks. Cats have a significantly harder time because they don't usually enjoy walks (if you have your cat leash-trained, they will be happy little critters!) and are stuck in their crates in the airport, but make sure you have treats/food to give them and even a small litter box if you find an area to let them out into.

 The bus ride to our post was fairly quick (we had the shortest drive from Ramstein to Illesheim, others had 5-6 hour bus rides ahead of them) and the bus itself was clean, comfortable, and as fancy and you will find for a bus! The animals did have to go underneath into the cargo area, but it was climate controlled and they were safe. Then we arrived at the Storck Barracks in Illesheim...... !!!

That was our experience with flying to Germany on PCS orders! If you are coming over soon, don't fret about anything, the transportation portion of your trip will be a breeze :) As soon as I can hop back on the computer, I will get into the more interesting stories of our first week in Germany! Tcheuss!