0 to 90: First Workout, and The Demise of Ego

0 to 90 chronicles the CrossFit adventures of a know-nothing noob. For all 0 to 90 posts, click here

It’s Day 0, which is a class called Introduction to CrossFit. Noah tells me all we’re doing today is get familiar with the idea of CrossFit. There will be a talk, followed by a short workout. 

"Welcome, my CrossFit disciples. Turn back from thy evil gym memberships, before the ancient Sloth overtake thee."

"Welcome, my CrossFit disciples. Turn back from thy evil gym memberships, before the ancient Sloth overtake thee."

Assumption #2: CrossFit = Propaganda.

Now, I consider Noah a friend, but I’ll be honest, the internet has led me to expect propaganda when CrossFitsers talk about CrossFit. So when Noah asks us what we’re expecting from CrossFit, I come right out with it and say, “Elitism? Rambo Bandana’s?” Noah nods, laughs, and proceeds into his talk which is actually just the opposite. 

He starts with a comparative list that shows the benefits of a number of workout strategies, CrossFit included, personal training included, gym memberships included (I assume by gym memberships he means gym memberships that people actually use). I learn where CrossFit lands in relation to these strategies: greater emphasis on community; greater focus on natural movements; short, intense, workouts leading to longevity in human activity. “We want you to be able to pick up your grandkids when you’re 90.” So far, so good. No suspicious-looking punch bowl in sight yet.

That's my wife on the right. She asks real questions. My most pressing question: when do we get to the rings? 

That's my wife on the right. She asks real questions. My most pressing question: when do we get to the rings? 

Doing my best to appear responsible, I voice my (internet) concern regarding injury. Don’t people, like, hurt themselves doing this? To this Noah replies without missing a beat, “People absolutely injure themselves in CrossFit, but not for the reasons you might think. Injury here comes from ego. If you can’t handle a girl next to you putting more weight over her head than you do, injury might be a problem. If other people doing better than you gets under your skin, this might not be the place for you.” Hmmmm.

Then, the moment arrives. Workout number one. We have 10 James Bond minutes to row 500 meters, do 40 air squats, 30 sit up throw thingies, 20 pushups, 10 pull ups. 

Now, I have to be honest. As Noah’s describing the work out, there’s a part of me that’s saying “That’s it? That’s all?” Noah shows us how each exercise can be scaled down, but, naaaah, I think, I’m not gonna need that. I mean, I’m not the most athletic guy in the world, but this seems pretty do-able. I even entertain a momentary fantasy that the whole session might end with a “Wow, Aaron. That was really, really surprising. No one’s ever done that well right out of the gate.”

Um, no. The trick here is we do all of those things right in a row, one right after the other. 

Kayla and I rowing. At this point I think I'm killing it. Like Lando Calrissian dropping out of hyperspace in front of Death Star II. 

Kayla and I rowing. At this point I think I'm killing it. Like Lando Calrissian dropping out of hyperspace in front of Death Star II. 

It goes like this: I finish the 500 meter row before my wife (but who’s counting?), and I’m feeling pretty good about myself. Directly after this (no rest for the wicked), it’s right to the air squats. Okay, this feels harder than when we did this in practice. I’m puffing a bit, but, no chance to rest — straight on to the sit ups, which my wife (where did she come from?) finishes before me (ego!). Then we’re on to the pushups, which have become difficult now that my arms are filled with red molten lava. “Good! You’re doing great!” Noah tells me. My mind says a word that comes out of a male bovine (ego!), but I keep going. 

Okay, now I’m truly gasping. Finally I get to the pull ups, which I so wanted to do without my legs (ego!), but how could I, given that my arms are now just skin-on-lead, and strange, guttural noises are coming out of my mouth, and my lungs feel like the inside of a volcano on a bad day. Maybe my wife (who finishes before me) can get behind and push? (Ego! Ego! Ego!)

And then, we’re done.

10 minutes, 5 exercises, and I’m way, way out of breath. Don’t worry, Noah says, not every workout will be this intense. My mind says the word again. No really, he says. 

Truth is, by this time, I don't mind the intense. Truth is, at this moment, I kind of like the fact that I just worked that hard. 

But will I like it the next time? This is the question. We’ll see.