Most Fit U Can Be with CrossFit Hardcore

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When you’ve got everybody from SWAT team members to suits to soccer moms raving in a somewhat wild-eyed way about their exercise regimen, calling it an addiction and explaining that they’ve never felt better about themselves in their lives, then any self-respecting fitness aficionado had better sit up and take notice – especially when one and all are looking rock hard.

But finding out exactly what it is that they’re doing is more easily said than done. Ask a Crossfit junkie to describe their workout and they start rattling off acronyms and women’s names interspersed with words like “hero” and “wod” and “kip” and “burpee”, and you can see that talking to them is pointless.

What the Heck?
They can’t quite sum up what they’re doing in a rational way, they just say you have to try it, and the one thing that’s crystal clear is that they’re obsessed.

So you head over to see for yourself, figuring that there must be one hell of a state-of-the-art gym to evoke all that love, and you get gobsmacked.

fitness2xtreme-images-crossfit-hardcore-equipmentIt’s a garage. In an industrial park. There’s a guy holding on to the building and puking outside, being ignored by guys and gals that can’t be classified by age, size or shape.

Some are sprinting back and forth like they’re being chased by rabid hyenas, others are in a group swinging kettleballs, still others are doing pull-ups on a bar that’s built into the frame of the door opening.

Inside you find the most down and dirty of equipment jammed into every available inch of space.

There’s no A.C., but plenty of squat stands, gymnastic rings, medicine balls, rowing machines.

fitness2xtreme-images-crossfit-hardcore-rope-hangingRopes are strung from the ceiling, bodies are scattered on the floor covered in sweat and heaving for breath, instructors and students are indistinguishable from each other, and one and all are counting out loud or calling out times or yelling encouragement to people doing impossible numbers of reps of gut-wrenchingly difficult-looking exercises.

They all have that slightly deranged look in their eyes that you equate with religious fanaticism or people who are high off their asses, glorying in a different state of being. Welcome to Crossfit Hardcore.

Get Ready

What Crossfit does is turn exercise – not just running a few miles or sitting at a weight machine with plates, but real, so-hard-this-must-be-some-kind-of-sick-joke exercise – into a sport of one upmanship against your own best friend and worst enemy; yourself.

fitness2xtreme-images-crossfit-hardcore-wod You walk in with a pit-of-your-stomach mixture of dread and masochistic anticipation about what the WOD (Workout of the Day) is – people even log on to the website first thing to see what awaits them before they head out so they can start psyching themselves up – or out – early.

The WOD is always a crazily intense version of movements that they describe as “functional” – they’re designed to put you into the best possible shape for the variety of moves that they say you’re presented with in real life, but that’s questionable unless you’re a Navy SEAL – which you might be in this class.

The class starts with a dynamic warm up that’s specific to what the day’s WOD will be – it may be jumping jacks, lunges, jump rope, pull ups – stuff that other gyms would consider the workout.

You may do some strength work, and you’re definitely going to focus on the basic skills required to ensure that you’re doing the day’s exercises properly.

The Crossfit regimen is prone to invite injury because the exercises are done with such intensity. It’s easy for a bad grip or body position to end in disaster, and though powering through an intense challenge on to a higher level is very much the point, getting overly competitive has gotten crossfitters into some dangerous physical conditions.

Fortunately, the staff at Crossfit Hardcore gets it; they’re totally dedicated to their people, and they make sure that the skills are well in place before moving on to the workout.

Trainers are dedicated – I mean, REALLY dedicated. They’ll jump in and do the workout with you when you’re struggling.

And even in a class of twenty people, they make sure everyone gets plenty of one-on-one time.

The workout is different everyday and customized to your level. My regular class was a mix of firefighters, police officers, S.W.A.T team (!), corporate professionals and housewives; fitness levels ranged from ‘I can do 50 pull ups in a row’ to I’d never worked out in my life -each individual gets what they need out of CrossFit.

And my favorite part? (And I know this is corny.) Everyone is happy to be there! Classmates and trainers actually holler and cheer to get you to do that one last pull up. I tell my friends “it’s like boot camp, except everyone’s nice. – Anonymous

Every WOD either has a woman’s name, or is the name of a fallen soldier.

Pain Is Your Friend

The twisted psychology behind naming the workout is that “… anything that leaves you flat on your back and incapacitated only to lure you back for more at a later date certainly deserves naming.” (CF Journal – Issue 13, September 2003).

Some might interpret calling an impossibly painful exercise that there’s no way anybody can do for a woman or for a hero who died for his country the ultimate motivation – you can’t fail, or you got whipped by a chick … or fail a hero. No pressure there at all.

So to give you an idea, if you look on one of the white boards covering the walls of the box (what Crossfitters aptly call their gym), you might see FRAN 21, 15, 9 65-lb Thrusters Pull-ups.

Now, in English, what that means is that the first piece of the workout is based on doing Thrusters using a bar with sixty-five pounds of weight – you start with the weight racked on your shoulders, drop down to a squat that’s deep enough that your butt touches the medicine ball that has been strategically placed there by the sadist who is your trainer (no touch and it doesn’t count), then as you come up from the squat to a standing position, you’re explosively thrusting that sixty-five pound bar straight up over your head.

No moving your feet – all the leverage is coming from driving through your heels. Notice how your knees felt like they were about to split when you squatted that low and how you had to tense your entire core to maintain the squat without falling farther backwards onto your ass? And did you feel how your thighs and shoulders strained simultaneously as you did that upward thrust?

Good. Do it twenty more times. As fast as you can, ‘cause the clock is running. Just when you think your legs can’t take another push up, you’re done and it’s time to head over to the pull-up bar.

Before you jump to the bar, make sure you chalk up, or before the workout’s done your hand may rip open like a present on Christmas morning.

The Crossfit pull up begins with full arm extension on the hang and finishes with your chest at the bar; anything less does not count, which means you get to go through the motion again ‘cause you screwed up.

The first few hangs don’t feel so bad after all the pushing you did on the thrusts, but by the time you’re at twenty-one you’re praying for help from the heavens to pull you up and over that bar and your arms are screaming “no”, and somehow you think that screwing your eyes closed and clenching your teeth and wiggling your body is going to help you climb through the air over that bar.

No Leftovers

Done and feeling whipped? Want to leave? You get to start over again, this time doing the Thruster and the Pull-Up 15 times. Survive that? You get to do another set of 9. That’s what the 21, 15, 9 means.

The whole time you’re being timed, and you can see other people doing the same sets – only some of them are faster and stronger and they look good doing it. At least better than you. But others are slower, maybe even retching between sets.

The amazing thing is that the whole time you’re trying your damnedest not to scream “Uncle”, or worse, cry for your mama, the trainers and others in the gym are encouraging you, telling you that you can do it, punctuating your pain with praise. They’ll urge you on and get that last agonizing drop out of you.

It’s kind of similar to a woman going through labor; you’ll want to punch them in the face for telling you how great you’re doing while your body is being ripped apart – and then after it’s over, you throw the sweaty mess that’s left of you into their arms in a combination of relief, victory, and appreciation for what they helped you do. You hurt, and your pride is wounded because you might have been under the mistaken impression that you were in good shape.

But you did it. You finished Fran.

One crossfitter summed the experience up this way:

The work I did, for the shape I was in, was an awesome effort. One that I should be proud of.

I could have given up at any time and just refused to continue, but I didn’t.

I attribute most of this to Cat, though she’d deny it and say she was only there to bring out what I had, or some other fuzzy huggy happy stuff that probably involves horseys.

I did feel like I pushed through a wall. Made of bricks. And then the bricks fell on me and no amount of ibuprofen could make the pain stop.

But I broke through. I WAS proud of doing it.

And I wanted to do it again and get better. Faster. Stronger.

That’s the way a class goes. There are dozens of Frans and Jasons and Nancys and Murphs, and each is made up of its own impossible combinations of exercises that will test your strength and resolve and your courage.

Diving into the UN-comfort Zone

Everybody who crossfits starts out with their own baseline, their own pitiful numbers from their first attempt at a workout , whether it’s the number of reps they can do in a given amount of time, the amount of weight they’re able to lift, the speed at which they can run – all of these metrics are recorded.

Then you come back again and again and slowly work against your own previous performance. You can be a 60-year old with a beer belly who’s never worked out, or a 21-year old college athlete, but your opponent is yourself and what you did before.

A soccer mom who went from distance and speed running to Crossfit described the overall experience this way:

I don’t feel like “a chick” at all-I am a Crossfit class member who is working my ass off alongside other Crossfitters working their own off.

It amazes me that buff men can work out alongside 60 year old women who have never stepped foot in a gym, yet both get an amazing workout.

The scalability factor is limitless.

The workouts are always different, and challenging, but never boring.

But here is the best part-when that clock starts, everything else stops.

It’s me against the clock, and I leave my losses from 2011 in the dust behind me. Any remaining feelings of defeat dissolve.

There are no thoughts, just pure action.

I put all of my heart and soul into each rep, each set, and no one cares if I create a sweat puddle on the floor because they’re doing the same.

That’s one of the secrets of the addictive nature of these classes, and why people who leave in pain and can’t get out of bed the day after a workout can’t seem to keep themselves from coming back.

Conclusions

Not everybody can do the Fran at 65 pounds – they may have started out with just the bar, and they may have taken way longer than you did – but once they’re finished, and their hearts have stopped pumping out of their chests and they get enough oxygen back into their lungs, they’re urging you and each other on as well.

The Crossfit Hardcore box is definitely a community.

These people sweat, and cry, and bleed together. When somebody is trying to “muscle up” – that’s what they call “the Frankenstein monster” of upper body strength exercise, and it involves pulling yourself up and over on gymnastic rings – everybody else stops to watch.

They root and cheer and use their own body English to try to will their classmate up. And videos of members achieving milestones are posted regularly for everybody to share the glory.

It’s kind of like a torture-chamber version of gym class when you were a kid.

Of course, the difference between gym class and what you’re doing now is that at the end of gym, you moved on to the cafeteria – where here you may not finish without losing your lunch.

Resources

 

Boot Camp Information

 

Name: Crossfit Hardcore, circa 1998
Website: http://www.crossfithardcore.com
Location(s): Boca Raton, FL
Owner(s): Adriana Grassi, Lance Mosley

 

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  1. […] whose day isn’t made unless you’ve killed your WOD (read more abut Work Out of the Day in CrossFit Hardcore or Mau Crossfit Hardcore), reader and you’re at the top of your box’ board every day, or […]

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