Thursday, July 17, 2008

Fitness 2: First Session

Fitness Post #1

Yesterday I had my first Crossfit session. I walked in, changed my clothes, and waited for my trainer, David.

David is a really, well, fit man who looks to be in his early / mid- 50's, with close-cropped gray hair and twinkling eyes (and a wink that I can't decide if it's a motivator or a tic).

He first evaluated my knees by having me stand straight and at a perpendicular angle to him. He wanted to check if my knees were hyperextended, but they're not, so we moved on.

Next, he taught me how to squat properly - to stick my butt out as the initial movement, instead of bending my knees. Maintain a neutral spine and keep your shoulders back and abs in (reminds me very much of pilates). The goal is to get me to be able to do a full squat - that is, where my butt is right above my ankles. David believes my hamstrings are tight and/or weak because I haven't been using them correctly.

The next step was teaching me how to do a dead-lift (lifting a barbell from the floor to your waist, then lowering it again). It was a bit unsettling to just DROP the barbell, but it was obvious it wasn't going to hurt me, so I got used to it. The dead-lift is based on the squat, and I was lifting about 40 lb. David definitely emphasized form, and he said that the goal is hard work and speed, but not at the sacrifice of excellent form.

The next exercise he showed me was how to row using the rowing machine. I always used it as primarily an arm exercise, but he showed me that, to get the most power from the machine, you push with your legs, and your arms are bending in as a follow-through to the momentum initiated by your legs.

The final exercise was jumping on a box. Sounds simple, right? Well, because of my knees, I am very unsure about jumping onto or off of things. So he gave me a lower box to use (maybe 6" instead of 12"?).

The circuit consisted of: 500 m of rowing in 2:40, then 12 dead-lifts, then 21 jumps onto the box. Repeat twice. I did those three circuits in 16:40. He said that, with practice, I'd be able to do those three circuits using a heavier weight and higher box, in about 9 minutes. Holy Moly!

I was breathing hard, and it's been a long time since I've sweat that much. But (once I caught my breath), I left feeling great! David also shared two encouraging stories with me. One was a man who's knees were so bad, he'd had one kneecap surgically removed, and the other was cracked. He had been coming for a couple of years, and he is now able to do a squat, pain-free. I am sure that is HUGE for him! The other great story was this woman (who happened to be participating in the class going on behind us), who had a fake hip and was jumping and squatting and doing everything in the class seemingly without pain! (Hm, maybe I won't need my knee-braces anymore one day?)

Anyway, this first session was very encouraging. My friend Aash said he is sore every time he goes, because his workout is always different and challenging. I just can't wait till I'm able to just DO things: bike 50 miles, go skiing all day, hike up the nearby mountains. There are a lot of infamous trails that are just "up"....and then "down". In fact, Mt. Rainier is supposedly an "easy" climb for a giant-ass mountain- my friend's husband climbed it, and he said "you just put one leg in front of the other"...i.e. there's no scrambling or technical work, like on most other giant-ass mountains...

I told David "Hey, my boyfriend's in the Navy. I have to be at least as strong as him, right?" ;-)

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