Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Mixed Bag

I am feeling kind of all over the place today- I have some topics I want to write about, but none of them are cohesive ... time for a smorgasbord!

Cody and I spent some time in Nuremberg this weekend and it was an absolute blast! We intended to do some sightseeing while there, but copious amounts of alcohol got in the way. Whoops! I now find the thought of traveling to Nuremberg nauseating, and instantly say no to any hint of going there... but I think the trauma will fade with time. As long as nobody brings up "baby birding", red bull, vodka, Coyote Bar, bar-top dancing, or hangovers, I think I have a chance of moving on....When did I get to the age where I experience all-day hangovers anyway? I now have the answer to the question I used to ask of my friends: "Why does everybody think hangovers are so awful?" It's because they are incredibly awful! And result in sub-human functioning, you stupid-college-aged-Ali who only got a slight headache and some beer-poops the morning after heavy drinking! I will be sticking to a few glasses of delicious German beer or wine from now on, thank you very much.
I find it funny that no matter where we live, the sights that are closest to us tend to be the ones least explored. We will have to make time over the next few years (hopefully the next few months, but I'm trying to give us some leeway) to do a solid wandering around the museums, churches, and rally grounds in Nuremberg. There are much more valuable things to see than the insides of movie theaters and bars :)
Speaking of local travel, I would like to give props to us, and to our friends, for making it to the Frankentherme this weekend! I love our little town so much, and have been looking forward to visiting our Bad Windsheim spa since before we moved here. We had so much fun jumping pool to pool, floating around in the salt-water (note: shaving directly before arriving is not the best idea for a comfortable salt experience and any cuts/scratches will be painful- I must avoid cat attacks before our next visit), and watching all the cute old folks (what? I adore old people and their awesome wrinkly wisdom)! I am so excited that the pools are open all year round so we can take our families when they visit. I also can't wait for the next day we have free so we can check out the Freiland Museum in town!

Is Our Box an Anomaly??? (More Thoughts on Crossfit...)
On Monday evening, I decided to research the controversy behind the Crossfit "movement." This was spawned by the fact I was feeling rather weak for a few workouts recently and I wasn't sure if it had to do with my foray into the Paleo diet, not allowing myself enough recovery time, or if it was all in my head. My original, simple, google search became a few hour trek through blogs and articles about the pros and cons of Crossfit. I can truly understand some of people's adverse reactions to Crossfit, but I am happy to report that the cons which showed up time and time again do not apply to my beloved Crossfit Ansbach.
These are the top reasons people either dislike Crossfit or think that it causes more harm than help:
a. The workouts are too generalized, and are hurting people because they don't take into account a person's ability or fitness level.
Almost every site I read quoted the Crossfit website where it states that an elderly person with heart disease and an athlete will do the same workout during Crossfit. If you haven't been to a Crossfit box, or you have maybe been to one with an inexperienced owner/coach/trainer, this may be a huge red flag. Yes, the workouts are scaleable, and once you learn what you are doing, everybody can do the same workout with different weights/reps/etc. No, not everybody should do the exact same workout/warmup/WOD all of the time, especially when dealing with injuries or beginners. At Crossfit Ansbach, I see Rob modify workouts to specific people every single day (my workout has been modified more times than I can count). For example, I brought a friend to Crossfit yesterday who has never lifted weights in her life. While I got down to business doing the warmup and skill workout (which, btw, were scaled to my ability level and consisted of movements I am fairly used to doing and have been taught to do correctly) Rob worked with my friend on a proper squat with a wall-ball and PVC pipe. For our WOD, which consisted of push presses and toes to bar, my friend did shoulder presses with a PVC and butterfly sit-ups. At the box this morning, I had to use a PVC pipe during the warmup. I know for a fact that Rob does one-on-one training, which no doubt is because those members have different needs. In my opinion, in a positive and encouraging environment, it is motivating to do the same workout as the really experienced Crossfitters in class- it makes me feel accomplished, while giving me goals to work towards at the same time.
b. Crossfit trainers push people so hard that they cause them to be physically ill- not only that, but those crazy Crossfit freaks actually reward you for puking during a workout and every box has a specific puke bucket.
Come again? What? I read this time and time again in articles and I have no idea what these people are talking about. What kind of crazy-ass masochistic box were you going to? I am starting to wonder if I luckily found the only sane box in existence (or maybe I am just not around when these things go on?)- I really want to know, are we the minority, or did these people just have bad experiences? I admit, people probably have pushed themselves to puking during timed WODs at Crossfit Ansbach, but I have never once seen it, or heard of it being encouraged. We have mop buckets and a chalk bucket... if there is a specific puke bucket somewhere, we haven't been properly introduced. Throwing up can happen when you push yourself, that is a fact; I saw it happen on my high-school swim team at least once a week. I believe this comes down to personality and some people are so driven they do push themselves to being ill; I personally am not that motivated and would take a short break before barfing, but I also really hate barfing, so I avoid it at all costs. But the main point is, "Pukey the Clown" is not encouraged at Crossfit Ansbach. I have been pushed to challenge myself, and encouraged to go faster, or just told to keep moving when I felt like giving up, but I have also been told to go down in weight or take a break when necessary. Which leads me to the next "con"
c. You WILL get injured doing Crossfit. The kinds of lifts required and the amount of reps prescribed during workouts are stupid, won't make you stronger, and will inevitably lead to injury of some kind-it is just a matter of when and how.
This is another issue which comes completely down to your trainer. According to these box-horror-stories we are luckier than we know to have Rob as our trainer! We all know how much he emphasizes form, and I think its safe to say we all trust his level of experience and expertise. I have always been taught how to do something properly before being told to add weight or reps or to race the clock. Have I forgotten proper form and messed it up before? Of course! But I have always had help figuring out what I am doing wrong- even if it means taking a break from the prescribed workout to figure it out. Avoiding injury also comes down to knowing your body. Have I been told to go up in weight when I didn't think I was able to? Sure! But, because I have usually been able to do handle the suggested weight, I trust that Rob knows what level I am at. If I haven't been able to handle it, I have been immediately told to go back down in weight, and I have been encouraged not to beat myself up for using less weight. Because Rob will tell me to use more or less weight depending on the circumstances, I completely trust him to know what I can and cannot do. There are times when I pay attention to my own body, and I ask to go down in weight because I can tell I'm not getting a movement right, and after Rob works with me on it, he usually agrees and tells me to go down in weight. I've had to check my ego a time or two, like last weekend, when I couldn't figure out kettlebell snatches and Rob made me use a 4kg kettlebell... talk about embarrassing! But it was smart, because I could have caused myself injury while flailing about with a heavier weight. Mobility is also a huge part of avoiding injury, and there is not a day where people don't stretch before and after a workout- and sometimes we do it as a group. I have been taught several stretches for every tight muscle or mobility issue I have ever experienced while at Crossfit Ansbach and I have been given "homework" to help fix my issues, as well. I would be worried if mobility isn't worked on in all boxes, but according to the complaints I was reading, it isn't. Yet again, we are very lucky!
d. Becoming Crossfit certified is way too easy and leads to inexperienced owners and trainers which leads to the above problems.
I am sure that this is a real issue, and hopefully, Crossfit finds a way around it because it is getting the program a bad name. I don't feel that I have to address this issue in detail, because Rob is obviously experienced.

Toot Toot!
I don't like to put up many Facebook statuses about working out because, in general, people don't give a shit :) But because I know my loved ones at home are following along, and because my ever-supportive Crossfit family seems to have taken a liking to my blog (thank you, thank you, thank you!) I thought I would write down what I feel are my biggest accomplishments since joining Crossfit Ansbach in early May (don't feel obligated to continue reading, this is a whole lot of me-me-me crap):
I am able to do movements that I wasn't able to do when I started. I know this is a given, and there is a huge list of things I have learned, but some specifics are Toes to Bar and Pullups. My pull-ups still aren't perfect, but I am way closer to doing a strict pull-up than before, when I was basically flopping around like a fish on a hook. Toes to Bar were a cool accomplishment because they surprised me. We were supposed to do them when I first started and I couldn't do one at all. A couple weeks back, a workout called for them, so I went to the bar expecting not to be able to do it, and boop my toes were up there! I can't do a ton of them, and my legs aren't all straight and pretty yet, but I can do a few, and that is still progress!
Yesterday was another day when I did more than I thought I could, and it felt amazing- it was only 20kg during the 30-20-10 push press WOD, but after that first 30 reps I was sure I would have to go down in weight, and I somehow finished the whole workout at 20 kg. It feels great to do more than I think I can-- actually, it feels absolutely terrible during the fact, I mean really really awful and all I want is for it to end... but afterwards, it feels fucking great :) I also went up to using a 12 kg kettle-bell for some workouts that I was using a 4 kg kettle-bell for originally. I already mentioned that I have regressed in that area for some workouts, but none-the-less, I wouldn't have even attempted to touch the blue kettle-bell when I first started.
I can also run without feeling like absolute death now  ! I still don't like it, but a little over a month ago, a 400m warmup was something I dreaded more than any other part of the workout. I got nervous driving to the box because I was afraid I would see 400m or 800m on the board. I knew it was kind of awful that I was struggling so much, but I couldn't help it. I still don't feel great about running, but I jogged 800m the other day and didn't stop or loose the people ahead of me, which was nice. That is a pretty cool change considering how little running we are required to do during a week (and thank god for that, right? I feel like other Crossfit gyms do A LOT of running, and the fact Rob hates running, too, is another reason I know I am lucky that I found this specific box!). UPDATE: after 100 back squats, 400m still makes me feel like death, haha!
I also encouraged one of the Crossfit haters I know to think about Crossfit in a different way yesterday. Cody has a coworker who is always talking about how he hates Crossfit, and he wants to get bigger and stronger, and he doesn't ever see big and strong guys doing Crossfit. I took it upon myself to show him a video of the Crossfit Games from last year, and halfway through it he looked at me and said, "Damn it! You are making me want to do this shit now!" We continued to chat about it, I showed him pictures from our workouts, told him what I had done for my workout yesterday, and we watched another video of women doing Crossfit, after which he was thoroughly intrigued. He was so shocked that guys can get muscular doing Crossfit-- I asked him what else he thought lifting heavy weights would lead to and he said he has just always seen thinner guys doing it. I told him it just depends on body-type. What a ding-dong. But, now there is one more person who has a positive attitude about Crossfit, and who won't give me shit for doing it!
Something else felt pretty great yesterday (it was just a good day, I guess!): While driving home from the box, I was talking to my friend about how she felt after her first time in the box. Among various other things, she told me that she looked at what I was doing and felt like there was no way she could ever do what I was doing. It was such an eye-opening comment! I told her that when I first started, I used a PVC, too, and I also looked around at all of the people working out and felt like I couldn't do it, or that it would take me forever to figure it all out. I told her that it has only been a month, and I am doing things I didn't know if I would ever be able to do, and if it is something she wants, she definitely can do it. I have just blindly trekked forward and have found myself slowly improving, learning, and growing. I also laughed, because if she would have been in class with more people, she would have seen that I do less than almost everybody else- there are much better people to be impressed by! It was flattering, none-the-less :)
And that is what is so motivating about our gym- the fact that I can look around at all of the people with more experience, and I can imagine that if I keep coming, and if I keep a good attitude, and if I push myself, that I will be where they are someday, too!

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