When I first visited the Crossfit Pacific Coast gym on Anacapa Street a couple months back, I quickly noticed a bunch of buff dudes strutting around, and immediately figured that, because of some preconceived notion about testosterone levels required to pursue weightlifting, this was not going to be my place. But to my surprise, while I can’t say that I totally embrace the gym life yet — the workouts still stoke considerable fear in my bones — I actually find myself looking forward to the weightlifting part of our routines, and I’m still trying to figure out what that means.

This realization came last Friday during the second time that I was able to make it to the gym twice in one week, following a grueling session on Wednesday. Though still sore from that workout, my arms were alright as we tossed medicine balls back and forth in the parking lot. Then we hit the weights for “thrusters,” which are essentially squats combined with an overhead press.

The easiest explanation for why I like the weights is that my body is built more for the short spurts of lifting than it is for all of the intense cardio and fast-moving muscle exercises that typify the rest of the session. That means I am able to handle more weight than I would expect, somewhat closing the gap between myself and the incredibly fit people who surround me on a typical day. For these presses, 65 pounds was very easy and 95 pounds was doable, so I did those for my first three reps of three. On the last series — one rep each, three times — I popped up to 105 twice and then finished with 115 pounds, which was actually more than quite a few of the people earlier in the day. Something, it seemed, had been accomplished on a relatively competitive level. Sure, other folks who clock in around my roughly 200 pounds are probably popping up way more weight — indeed, the guy I shared the bar with was much smaller in stature, yet was throwing up close to 50 pounds more than me — but it was an enjoyable experience nonetheless.

The joy quickly morphed to pain for the Workout of the Day, which as many rounds as possible (AMRAP) of 24 V-twists — a kind of sit-up thing where you stick your legs straight out while swinging a medicine ball back and forth across your body — and 12 unbroken pull-ups, where you aren’t supposed to stop moving at all. I finished the first round (with a band to help, of course) in relatively proper form, and then eeked out another three or so (in my sorry pull-ette fashion, though I overshot the 12 count a couple times just to compensate for my weak form) before my arms just couldn’t handle any more.

It was nowhere near the intensity of the Wednesday torture, but I managed to walk out with my head high and not have to lay down when I got home. Which was nice.

Follow Matt Kettmann’s foray into Crossfit Pacific Coast with regular updates at independent.com/crossfit.


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