CrossFit is interesting to say the least. The workouts are intense and always varied. Just like Forrest Gump's mama said "CrossFit life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get."
The designing and crafting of CrossFit WOD's (workout of the day) is something that is of primary concern to a CrossFit coach. Factors like "impact, motivation, perception, recovery, and timing combine with decades of experience seasoned by luck and intuition to create our daily fare. Though the process by which we engineer our workouts is largely rational, the finished product is often seemingly infused with qualities more commonly associated with art than exercise like symmetry, theme, or character. It is in this sense that we have in the past referred to “the choreography of exertion” in describing the best of workout design. When everything goes right the finished product comes alive in a blend of elegance, simplicity, form, and impact (Glassman 2003).
To the onlooker (and heck even to me sometimes!!) the WOD's seem to have no rhyme or reason, but there is a definite method to the madness, and a part of that is measuring progress.
Progress can be determined in many ways. My primary way of determining progress is through the Benchmark WOD's, often referred to as "The Girls."
Benchmark WODS are not repeated often (usually every 4-12 months) and are an excellent way to ensure that I am meeting my fitness goals. This allows me to track my progress, while still not falling into a routine. Almost of these workouts are timed, so the objective is to complete the exercises as fast as possible while maintaining safe and proper form.
Since I am still quite the newbie when it comes to CrossFit, I have only done a small handful of The Girls. I've done Helen (twice, with a noticeable improvement), Annie, Diane, Fran, and just this week I added Grace and Lynne to my list, though I had no idea that I'd be adding them. That's another thing about CrossFit, you don't know what you are going to do until you walk in the box. Unless you have friends who take pictures of the whiteboard and post them to Facebook (guilty!!) but I do the 9am class, and it appears that none of the 5:15am CrossFitters post the WOD! ;) Not that it would change my mind in the least, but sometimes knowing in advance does help with clothing choices. But I digress....
Having ripped open my hands last week, I knew I'd be struggling this week with a lot of the moves we do in CrossFit. Sure, I could have used that as an excuse to take time off and let my hands heal, or maybe even switch things up and do all cardio (BORING!!), but I also knew that if I put it out there that I was hurt and I needed help, that people would help me. That's one big thing I've learned along this journey. PEOPLE WANT TO HELP, THEY JUST NEED TO KNOW HOW THEY CAN HELP YOU!
So I went in to CrossFit En Fuego on Monday morning, sore, taped up and nervous. I looked at the board and saw the Monday WOD and cringed a little bit.
3 rounds, each round lasting one minute. Rowing (ouch, my hands!) ball slams (do-able) box jump (do-able) kettlebell swings (ouch, my hands!!) and double unders. 2 out of 5 moves I knew I would not be able to do without risking further injury to my poor hands. All it took was me going to Coach Pete and saying "I need help, I can't row or do kettlebells, but I can use the airdyne so how about I do that instead of rowing?" He gave me the a-okay on that, and then he had to think for a few seconds on an alternate exercise for me to do instead of kettlebell swings and he came up with wallballs. Perfect. Workout completed.
Tuesday rolls around and I walk in and see this on the whiteboard.
Hello Grace. We've never met before.
And I know I'm in trouble with my hands. But there is NO WAY IN HELL that I am skipping a Benchmark Girl WOD. No way. So I suck it up. I scale the weight, all the way down to 55lbs, tape up my hands and go for it.
And I rip. On the inner part of both my thumbs.
But I finished. I think I might have finished last, but I don't give a rat's ass about where I finish, just that I finish. It took me 7:19 and I had to stop A LOT to blow on my hands, shake them out, but I got it done. And afterwards treated myself to a full-body massage by Debbie Forbes.
It was blissful....
Wednesday. I walk in surprised to see another Girl that I don't know!! Hello Lynne!
I buddy up with two great ladies (hi Karin and Jenn) and have a chat with Coach Jen (CJ) and Coach Pete about my hands. I've got them slathered in lotion, band-aided, and taped, but I still know pull-ups are going to be painful. CJ advises me to change my grip, add an extra band, and do strict pull-ups, no kipping. I take her advice to Coach Pete and he gets me all set up on the bar, checks my hand placement, etc., and then my group starts!!
This is one of the girls that is NOT timed. Thank goodness because after the FIRST round my shoulders and chest and heck, even my arms were shaking. Lynne is NO JOKE. How I managed to knock out 5 sets with some pretty decent numbers, I'll never know, but having 2 wonderful women there to cheer me on and Coach Pete there on my pull-ups saying "there you go Jenny" sure had something to do with it!
It seriously took everything I had to get through that last round. But I did it. And I didn't hurt my hands. I took a nice recovery by walking 2 miles with another CrossFit friend, Joan.
Benchmark WOD's are important. Next time I do these girls I'll remember that I had hurt hands and I still got them done like a champ!
How do YOU measure your fitness progress?? If you do CrossFit which girl is your favorite?
Source: Glassman, Greg. "Benchmark Workouts." CrossFit Journal. 13 (2003): 1-5. Print. <http://www.crossfit.com/journal/library/13_03_Benchmark_Workouts.pdf>.