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CrossFit Boot Camp – (Hardly) Survived Week #1

December 12, 2010

Last week I was in pure bliss (relaxing, getting pampered and engaged at Ste. Anne’s Spa!).  This week I was in pure pain (I’m still engaged, but I’ve just been introduced to the CrossFit workout).

My boyfriend, I mean my fiance (gee, that sounds so weird) decided we needed to try something new to get/stay in shape for our cruise in January, so he signed us up for the CrossFit Boot Camp.   The Boot Camp combines education (learning exercise drills, proper form, nutrition tips) with exercise (core exercises, calisthenics, circuit and interval training, strength work, short runs, etc).  

I am really enjoying the “education” aspect because we’re learning the right way to do exercises I have been doing for years.   And when you do them right, it’s noticeably more challenging.  So anyone who goes to a CrossFit gym (which more so resembles a warehouse) should be prepared to check their ego at the door.   You may be a self-proclaimed fitness guru but that all changes once you start CrossFit.  For instance, I used to be able to crank out 20 push-ups, 25 on a good day, when doing them the wrong way.  Those days are gone now that I’ve learned how to do a real push-up (shown in the first segment of this video before they start showing off).  

To optimize the push-up you’re supposed to go ALL the way down and let your chest touch the floor.   With this newfound learning, I’ve regressed back to “knee push-ups” to get through a full-set.  Using proper form, my new maximum is about 5 reps (on a good day).   I know they work because my triceps are crying.  I was out shopping yesterday and my arms were so exhausted I could hardly push open any doors to get in or out of stores.  I had to do a body check instead. 

For someone who works out fairly intensively (or used to), I was shocked to see how much this program is kicking my butt.  There is one word I would use to describe the experience over the past four days – BITTERSWEET.  Here’s why:

Keith and I have committed to getting up at 6am every weekday morning in December to make our way to the 7am CrossFit Boot Camp class (bitter).  Thankfully our evenings are now free to do other stuff like eat:) (sweet).   Getting to a one hour workout everyday at 7am in the dead of winter stinks (bitter) but the structure let’s you ease into it and only 20 minutes of the hour is dedicated to the more intense workout  (sweet).  That said, the 10 minute blitz at the end of the session is no walk in the park.   It’s hard-core, heart-pumping drills that push your body to the limit.  So when the clock hits zero you’re likely to be face-planted on the floor (bitter).  I had sticker shock when I heard this was going to run us $250 for one month (bitter) but when you do the math it’s a steal!  You essentially get a personal trainer for 20 sessions which works out to $12.50 a day (sweet). 

You get the point. 

Our class consists of 5 people so we get more than enough attention from our personal trainer John, who is fantastic – motivating, insightful and clearly has done something right because he is in great shape.  Taking fitness advice from someone who is out of shape just doesn’t seem right (it’s like getting your hair cut by someone who has a questionable hair style or cut themself).   If it wasn’t for him watching us closely, correcting our form and rooting us on, I would never have completed the drills.  The amazing thing is that the drills only last 10 to 15 minutes and that’s enough to leave us breathless and sore for days.  Let’s be clear that it’s 15 minutes of complete hell, but I think I’d choose that over an hour in the gym everyday. 

So here’s a day in the life of Keith and Danielle for the next 3 weeks on CrossFit :

  • 6:00am – Alarm goes off and Keith presses snooze (this happens every 5 minutes)
  • 6:15am – Alarm goes off and Keith sits at the edge of the bed with his head in his hands
  • 6:20am – I’m up and splashing cold water on my face, wishing I had never agreed to this
  • 6:40am – Keith and I are bundled up and head out the door for our 10 minute walk to the CrossFit gym
  • 6:45am – We exchange our first words and it goes something like this “This sucks.  Is it too late to get our money back?”
  • 6:55am – Feeling slightly more awake from the winter chill, we have enough energy to start our warm up:
    • 15 leg swings per leg (front facing and side-facing)
    • 15 squats (go to 15 seconds in this video to have a look)
    • 10-15 pull ups (assisted using rubber bands)
    • 10-15 GHD back/hip raises 
    • 10-15 GHD ab raises
    • 10-15 dips on gymnastic rings
  • 7:10am – Our trainer gives us the low-down for the next hour and walks us through the technique for one or more exercises. 
  • 7:40am – The real fun begins.  Everyday there is a different drill on the whiteboard.  On Friday we had to complete 5 rounds of the following exercises as fast as possible.  It was 11 minutes and 38 seconds of torture.
    1. Dumbbell press x 15 reps – I was ready to go with 10 pounds dumbbells when John looked at me and said “I’m feeling 15 pounds for you“.   So I obeyed and fully regretted it.  I could only get them out in sets of 5 reps.
    2. Box Jumps x 10 reps – Imagine having to jump with both feet onto a park bench then back off, and on again in a rhythmic motion with no breaks in between.  We used 16″ high blocks.
    3. Burpees x 5 reps – These are a dreaded exercise for a reason.  The 5 reps might tell you that as well.  Burpees include doing a ‘real’ push-up then popping up into a jumping jack.  Then going back down for another ‘real’ push up.
  • 7:50am – At this point your exhausted and don’t have much energy to do anything.   So the last 10 minutes are conveniently scheduled for “classroom time”.   You just sit there and listen to the trainer educate you on nutrition do’s and don’ts or watch him take us through a few stretching exercises. 
  • 8:05am – We’re bundled back up and dragging our butts back home…and crying.

Well, we had two days to recover and we’re back at it tomorrow morning.  I better have buns of steel by December 31st or I’m not going to be a happy camper.


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