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CrossFit: A Playground for Adults


Having suffered a bout of absentee self-discipline, I have joined the cult of CrossFit to mold my flesh into a more fetching vessel. It's interesting.

If you're lucky enough to have never heard of CrossFit, this is all you need to know—it's a jungle gym for adults. You run and jump and pick things up and put them down and throw them and jump rope and do hopscotch and work out all your heebie jeebies. There's some grade school math thrown in as well, since you'll be counting every time you do something, and you're always doing multiple somethings, and you're always doing a lot of multiple somethings. My gym is in an old converted garage with plenty of space, but at eight o'clock the rush hour hits and it is playground madness.

Likely there are serious types doing CrossFit who would quibble with this characterization, and there's no doubt that the serious types are serious. That ubiquitous American belligerence underpins the official CrossFit doctrine. We are encouraged to be warriors. We are taught to be fearless. Workouts are named after soldiers and "heroes." Give me a break. We're jumping rope and doing squats to the Beastie Boys. The only war I'm fighting is against the stingy paper towel dispenser in the bathroom.

Fortunately, my CrossFit gym is chill. Very few nutcases. At worst the occasional 'enthusiast,' who insists on encouraging me. (Tip: it's not obstinance preventing me from lifting that dumbbell, dude.) My peeps just want to come in, get up a nice sweat, and burn off a little-lotta frustration. Officially, the suggested diet of CrossFit is paleo, but my coach rightly rolled her eyes at that and told us to just eat smart (I have to make a whole post about why I hate paleo). She obsesses about form and swaddles me with attention as I attempt to lift the tiniest weights imaginable. All the workouts have what's called a 'scaling' which means they can be adapted for fragile soft boys such as I.

So great is my weakness they often have to make special trips into the closet to find weights and bars light enough for my frail limbs. Instead of barbells I use pool floaties. Instead of kettle bells I use balloons. When it comes time for pull ups, my scaling is to stand as straight as possible and lift my arms over my head. I almost did it once. Coach is working on a new mathematical system for measuring the atomically infinitesimal amounts I can lift so I can put a score on the board.

Oh yes, the board. At the end of the workout you're supposed write your name and how well you did on a big whiteboard. I asked why once and the answer I received was unconvincing. Basically, to track yourself, and to compete, but also not compete, because you're competing against yourself, and to inspire others, and get a sounding for what a 'good' score is, but whatever you can do if you try your hardest is a 'good' score. I never do it. I'm super cool and a rebel so these competitions mean nothing to me. My game is the game of life, and also Fallout. And by the end of the workout my fellow strivers are starting to look like pork chops, and all I want to do is get home and scarf.

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