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6 Month Project: Getting Fit and the Search for the Grail

I have to say, I was more than a little intimidated as I walked into the CrossFit gym.

I've never been much of a gym guy. At all. I've never been particularly fit in my life (except for a short period in 2nd year) and I've never fit in with that whole gym crowd. I can't discuss the game last night, or that crazy Ref/Ump (though lately I may be able to talk about the basketball game, thanks to GFM). I'm not particularly competitive, nor do I have any interest in being the fittest person around. A disclaimer; I'm not saying that all gym-goers are like this, only that many guy gym-goers, in my experience, have this kind of attitude. Plus, public showers? Ew.

So when I walked into the CrossFit and no one really greeted me, there was no one at the front desk, no one to hold my hand and encourage me along and say "Welcome!" I was a bit unsettled. I'm also used to yoga studios, where there are usually friendly and attractive people to guide you every step of the way, and encourage you to take it easy.

CrossFit is not that.

I eventually found the guy I'd spoken to before, let's call him Jim. Jim walked me through where to go and what to do step by step, but only so far as the next step, and occasionally interrupting mid sentence to say hi to people around him, chat to those folks, and to introduce me to them. I found it a bit unsettling, this all being very new to me, but I rolled with it.

He took me through a "warmup" which ended up being the hardest workout I had done in years, and the second hardest workout I would do that day, of two short sessions on the rowing machine. By the end my abs, arms and legs ached, and that had only been 5 minutes or so.

Then it was on to what they call their Baseline, or a set of timed exercises meant to see where you are in overall fitness, including rowing, pushups, squats, crunches and pull-ups. I managed to do fairly well, landing actually in the middle of the pack in terms of Baseline, taking about 9 minutes, when the average runs between 5-15 minutes, though a couple of the exercises were more forgiving versions (jumping pull-ups and knee pushups). Afterwards I rested for a bit, before going to their small change room, and realizing that my legs were seizing up and I couldn't walk.

Well, to be clear, I'd end up sitting down, or standing up, and realize that bending my legs caused me to curse wildly. I started to worry about driving home. Getting my socks on. And the fact that I was half naked in a change room (a single one), with my one friend who I knew there well out of yelling distance, and my phone locked away in my car. I started worrying about if I could actually do this CrossFit, how the Hell I was going to get fit in an efficient way otherwise, how my parents would react when I needed a drive home and for them to pick up my car and a bunch of other things.

But after a minute or two, I started tentatively moving my legs a bit, and finding only a dull soreness. I carefully got my socks on, collected my things, and got out of the room. Met up with my friend, and signed up as a member. It'd be scary, yeah. But sometimes with scary things you just keep going. You take a minute, sit down, give yourself a minute to feel it, to worry. Let the fear run it's course. Then move on.

So I intend to be going back 3 days a week. They have some daily workouts which vary up, and scheduled times for instructors to run small groups through them, but ideally, eventually, you should be able to do them on your own, at whatever time you like. My idea is not to do this forever. While it's challenging, and interesting, it's not what I'd call fun. While there seems to be a good community, I'm not sure I fit in with that crowd. I've still yet to find the physical activity that I would actually choose over lying on my couch watching TV or gaming, but I'm trying to be open. No, CrossFit is a means to an end; I intend to use it to build up a baseline level of fitness in myself; get my weight down, build up some strength and agility, maybe, so that in 6 months I can settle things down a bit; do more walking, cook better for myself, and maybe play a bit of Wii Boxing to work up a sweat. I have no interest in being in peak physical condition; good will be just fine in that front. I may end up, as my one friend said, getting hooked on the adrenaline rush of working out, and start to enjoy this kind of activity, but I have my doubts.

Would I recommend this so far? Yes, absolutely. It's an amazing, full body workout that I'm still feeling two days later, and it is fun enough that I can see myself doing this for the next 6 months. But it's still not, to me, the Holy Grail of physical activity. Still searching for that


6 Months

"So the minimum commitment is 6 months starting in March. You still want the space?"

I paused for a moment as the man said that. I was rushing to get things done, it was around 4:45 on a Friday, and I didn't want to make this decision now.

The man had called me from GO Transit because, a few months ago, I had applied for a reserved parking space at the station I go to every morning, and one had become available. As it stands now, I get driven every morning, as finding a parking space is increasingly difficult there.

However, 6 months is a long time. In my head, I was moving away next month. Getting an exciting new job. Maybe even giving up my car and living in the hip downtown. I hadn't decided yet. All these were possibilities of the next 6 months. Committing to this meant either throwing away good money, or staying with my parents, at the same job, for 6 months.

But here's the thing. I like deadlines. I like having an end. I like dates that force me to think about things, to limit me, to say "this is when this has to be done." So this is a little arbitrary. But it's a good start.

So in the next 6 months I hope to work on a few things. I hope to have a new job lined up. I hope to be well on my way to moving out of my parent's house (perhaps with a closing date exactly 6 months from March 1). I'm going to have a new blog, and a new blog identity set up. And I hope to be more physically fit and, ideally, have lost 60 pounds. I know, that sounds like a lot, but if I'm going to be at my medically ideal weight, it's gonna be around that kind of loss.*

I've already made good strides. I've started applying for jobs. Somewhat haphazardly, but at this point I'm just trying to get my name out there. I've been keeping up with my Whole Foods challenge, though not perfectly, but it's been on my mind and I've made some small changes (more fruit and salads, so far). I've been looking into starting CrossFit, and I'm actually really excited about that, as it seems like it might be the answer to weight loss I've been looking for. It will be physically challenging, but that in and of itself I have no problem with, particularly if it will bring me results.

So I'm excited. I feel like this little thing is a way of giving myself a goal, an endpoint. I have 6 months to work with what I have now, to get the most out of it, and get myself ready for the next stage of my life. I'm starting it a little later than I'd like, yeah. But I'm starting it.