Although my introductory “baseline” workout resulted in vomiting last month, it still didn’t qualify as my first Crossfit experience. That happened last Wednesday, when I arose from a dead sleep at 6:45 a.m., scurried down to the Crossfit Pacific Coast studio on Anacapa Street by 7 a.m., and was doing a quick jog through the brisk air toward Cabrillo Boulevard upon arrival. Minutes later, I was cruising across the studio’s padded floor in a variety of stretching moves, including the inchworm, where you place your hands on the ground in front of you and then walk your feet toward them to give your hamstrings a good stretch.
Those stretches were designed to prepare us for the weight-lifting portion of the day, where we toiled in overhead squats with the heaviest amount we could handle. For a person who hasn’t really worked out my upper body in years — if ever, really — the 45-pound bar proved pretty heavy all by itself. Once I got my form down, I was able to add another 30 pounds, but then had to drop to just 20 additional pounds to complete the required reps. During my last few lifts, I learned a quick lesson in how to drop the bar when my muscles started shaking, but managed to get them done despite the unexpected emergency breaks.
Up next was the rest of the Workout of the Day, or WOD, which is advertised every morning on the Crossfit Pacific Coast website. It was a series of ring dips (where you hold two rings, left your legs off the ground, and dip your body down and up) followed by goblet squats (where you squat while holding a weight against your chest) followed by ring rows (where you lay on the ground and yank yourself toward the rings). We did 21 of each, then 15, and then 9.
About halfway through, I realized that there was no way I could finish, and the thought of throwing up again was slowly entering my mind. But then I kept going, and in due time (well, nine-and-a-half minutes to be exact), I finished. There was plenty of huffing and puffing — and perhaps a few times where I didn’t make it to the peak of every ring row — but I actually felt myself get a bit stronger during the workout. And I didn’t puke, which was also great.
That morning, I also got a rundown on the suggested diet for any serious athlete at Crossfit Pacific Coast. Called the “Paleo Diet,” it focuses on eliminating dairy, grains, sugar, and processed foods from your daily eatings in exchange for meats, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and berries. While I didn’t promise to adhere to the diet as strictly as some Crossfitters may — my job, for one, tends to involve some sort of eating and drinking on a weekly basis, and my addiction to good cheese, fine wine, craft brews, and the occasional bowl of oatmeal or breakfast cereal probably might not disappear in this three-month experiment — I did pledge to take more care of what I was eating, and lay off the bad stuff as much as possible.
On the day after the workout, I was feeling pretty good, and even said as much to Eric Malzone, one of the Crossfit Pacific Coast owners. But two hours after I sent him that email, my arms were rendered pretty useless, as the muscles around my elbows became incapable of fully extending. It made holding my child tough, sleeping a bit restless, and walking around town on Friday a bit odd, as I had to hold my arms in the odd half-extended position.
I had planned on attending the Friday noon session, but figured that my arms were too sore to handle it and that my weekend trip to Mammoth Mountain might be hampered by future soreness if I was to endure another hard workout. Thankfully, Malzone was nice enough to drop off some herbal Ben Gay-like treatment by my office on Friday, so by Saturday morning on the slopes, my arms weren’t even hurting anymore.
I’ll be back in the studio this Wednesday for my next round of exercise torture.
Follow Matt Kettmann’s foray into Crossfit Pacific Coast with regular updates at independent.com/crossfit.