April 20, 2009

CrossFit for Cranky Crabs

Photo credit: crossfit

Many of you may already be familiar with the exercise program Cross Fit, which is designed to "forge a broad, general, and inclusive fitness."

Crossfit says its regimen can be adapted by almost anyone, including "terrorist hunters, skiers, mountain bike riders and housewives."

(Note: I assume by "terrorist hunters" they mean: "people who hunt terrorists" and not: "hunters who use bombs to scare the bejeesus out of ducks and deer." )

So, are you interested in becoming a terrorist-hunting, skiing, mountain-bike-riding housewife who can kick some serious ass? Then maybe you should think about CrossFit!

But how does it work? Well, CrossFit gives you a simple list of exercises to perform every day. Unless it is a Rest Day, in which case you get to rest! The list is different each time, but it is rarely very long.

If you are a CrossFit regular and know what you are doing, then you just man-up or woman-up and do the exercises. If you are new and clueless, the routines are explained somewhere else on the site. You can do the exercises in a gym specially designed for CrossFit, a regular gym, or you can buy exercise equipment for your own basement or garage.

(Not actually suggested by CrossFit.)
Photo: plaidstallions.com; thanks Camevil!

I confess: I have kind of a crush on CrossFit.

Now it's true, I've never actually done a CrossFit workout, but check out all the reasons CrossFit seems so cool:

What's Awesome About CrossFit:

1. Really tough, strong people do it and get even tougher and stronger.

2. The list of things you need to do each day usually looks pretty short.

3. There's a whole community of people who do their CrossFit thing and then post pictures or videos of themselves doing them. It's sort of like amateur porn, only it's not dirty.

4. The CrossFit people often give their workouts sweet names like "Pamela" or "Betty" even if the routines themselves might totally kick your ass down the stairs and across the street.

5. There are supposed to be ways to modify the exercises to make them doable for anyone, which involves clicking around the site more than I felt like so I haven't found them yet.

6. As a cranky crab, how could I not be drawn to something that starts with the word "Cross?" Because I'm always cross when I try to get fit!

Then Why Don't I DO CrossFit, if I Have Such A Crush on It?

Well, just because you may have a crush from afar, this does not necessarily mean that you are destined to spend your life together with the object of your affections. Perhaps some things are just not meant to be.

Sigh. (And don't worry, the Lobster has a
big ol'crush on Rachel Maddow too).

Oh wait. Let's see, most Cranky Fitness readers are heterosexual females... Sorry about that, I'll translate:

Sure, nice to think about--but you might not want to go
clear out a space in your garage or basement for him just yet.


On its face, CrossFit appears to be a simple, powerful, and effective approach to getting fit. But when you delve a little deeper, you might discover that a lot of these exercises are really hard, and the way you're supposed to use the equipment may make you unpopular at your current gym, and there may not be a special CrossFit gym near you, and that the DIY approach to turning your garage into a CrossFit facility is more than a bit daunting.

So here is the Crabby McSlacker alternative approach to CrossFit, which I'll call CrankyFit!

Step 1: Consider reading all the helpful orientation information on the CrossFit site, so you can learn the philosophy behind CrossFit; how it works; what equipment you need; where to find the videos that demonstrate the exercises; where to find a trainer if you want one; how to modify the exercises to better match your abilities, etc.

Step 2: Decide that would take too much time. Instead, check out the exercise for today.

Let's use an example from last week, shall we?

"Do 30 muscle ups for time."

Step 2: Think: well, gosh, I'm not sure what a muscle up is, but how hard could that be? And just 30 of 'em? Awesome, I'm there!

Step 3: Prowl around the site and find out what a "muscle up" actually is. Hint: the show-offy folks in the 100 burpee challenge video did some muscle-ups towards the end; it was that cool looking thing with the rings.

Step 4: Realize there is no way in hell "muscle ups" are gonna happen in your lifetime.

Step 5: Note there is an alternative suggestion: "If you cannot do the muscle-ups, do 120 pull-ups and 120 dips."

Step 6: Note that there is no alternative to the alternative suggestion.

Step 7: Start fantasizing about eventually being able to do 1 unassisted pull-up, let alone 120 of them. Consider purchasing a pull-up bar for home use. Spend 3 hours on the internet selecting the exact over-the-doorframe pull up bar you would purchase, if you could convince your spouse it was a justifiable expenditure.

Step 8: Get out a tape measure and discover that because of the fancy trim you have around your doorways, none of the over-the-doorframe pull-up bars would go over your actual doorframe.

Step 9: Realize that if you want to do 120 pull-ups and dips, you're going to have to go to the gym and use the gravitron thingy.

Step 10: Once at the gym, realize you don't want to do 120 pull ups and dips. Instead, decide to do 8-12 (assisted) pull ups and dips like you normally would, and then go do the rest of your regular strength training routine, and then do some cardio, because, well, that's just what you do when you're at the gym.

Step 11: Come to the conclusion that while the fantasy of being told what to do every day for exercise is very appealing, in reality, you don't actually like to be told what to do, pretty much ever.

(However, if you are not a Cranky Crab, CrossFit may be just what the doctor ordered).

Anyone here a CrossFit fan? Have any other kinds of exercises you have a crush on from afar but have trouble actually committing to?


  1. Ha, hilarious Crabby!

    FIRST-- I'd totally make room in my garage for Matty, he could live in my pocket too, whatever he preferred :)
    (i still love you, hubby)

    Intrigued about CrossFit now...still working on 2 consecutive pull ups...I'll get to 120 soon I think :)

    Happy Monday!

  2. Ahahaha the alternative is 120 unassisted pull ups? Holy jesus. That makes me woozy just thinking about it.

    Also, this:

    Note: I assume by "terrorist hunters" they mean: "people who hunt terrorists" and not: "hunters who use bombs to scare the bejeesus out of ducks and deer."Made me laugh out loud. Thanks <3

  3. yes!!! And I'm just an ordinary type person, not a superstar athlete or anything... CrossFit is awesome. I can do pullups now! :)

    Instead of CrossFit main page workouts, you could check out BrandX which posts scaled workouts (via the CrossFit Kids program): http://www.crossfitkids.com/ or Eva T who posts bodyweight only: http://skievat.blogspot.com/ (look for the orange at the bottom of the post). There are lots of other great affiliates posting great workouts, often with scaled versions, some with different emphasis.

    CrossFit is so worth doing :)

  4. dragonmamma/naomiApril 20, 2009 at 7:04 AM

    I think Crossfit is misrepresented. It isn't a program to help people get in shape; it's a program for people who are already in shape to push themselves a little harder and brag about their workouts.

    The examples you gave are pretty typical as far as being useless for the average person.

  5. Go easy on us poor hunting types! Only poachers use bombs...

    I started off as a strict runner. Moved away from that to my own personal version of crossfit. It's necessary for triathlon training. I greatly prefer that to just running. It's not as boring.

  6. Crossfit fan? Oh I am sincerely a crossfit addict. Every workout leaves you heaving and sweaty and sore, mostly flat on your back on the floor. The workouts make you shirk when you hear names like "Fran" because you know the hell it entails....

    But thanks crossfit for fitting in enough of a challenge in a short amount of time!!! (No too busy to schedule a workout excuse...dang it!)

    I am still a huge fan of distance running and enjoy it to relax, but there is no better way to feel like you are super fit than finishing a "G.I. Jane" workout.

    It also helps that I know of two crossfit gyms ran by friends on the force and we have the equipment here too!!! (and no one minds you throwing it around!)

    Great place to research any crossfit exercise-youtube!!!!

    Whobody loves crossfit!!! xoxo
    (And you can also modify workouts to work around broken feet!!)

  7. This was AWESOME! I love CrossFit but, yeah, just cause those workouts are short doesn't mean they're easy. Muscle ups are a nightmare and caused much laughter at my gym when I attempted them. What always made my heart sink tho was to log on and see the WOD was "Run 15K" (about 10 miles). Sigh...

  8. Um, CrossFit sounds like something for people like the Navy Seals...not big mommas like me. I think my arms would literally snap off if I tried a "muscle up." I know we have to clean up our own sweat at the gym but do we have clean up our own blood?

    Jeez. And I thought I was doing good to finish level 1 of the Shred. Apparently not.

    Terrorist hunters sounds scary though. I wonder if the deer will ever retaliate.

  9. Ive dabbled only a Bit in the Fit and entirely agree with Dragonmamma.

    and you are too freakin' funny & talented of a writer.


  10. I agree with dragonmamma and MizFit. Was so relieved when I read further into your post. Don't know why I didn't see it coming. Monday morning, I guess.

    One of my fitness crushes is hiking up mountains. It is so inspiring at the top. But when I'm facing down a 4-6 hour hike, I sometimes feel less than inspired.

    Oh, and I have a crush on Rachel, too. So does my husband.

  11. Oh, crossfit. I log on, look at the WOD, and log off. But maybe I should actually start trying the kids versions Anon suggested. I do really need a change to my workout routine....

    Also, I'd take Rachel over Matt anyday. I'm reasonably sure she's the better conversationalist. And I have a huge girl crush on her.

  12. Crossfit types of workouts definitely have a place in a total workout program. The intensity needs to be adjusted depending on the fitness level of the individual. Beginning this with a trainer is probably the prudent course.

  13. That would so be my reaction at the gym! The idea of 120 pull ups just makes my eyes glaze over, honestly.

    Oh, and I'm a straight (happily married) woman who DEFINITELY understands the appeal of Rachel Maddow. I might even take her over Matthew, because I'm sure the conversation would be SO MUCH BETTER.

  14. Just the thought of this CrossFit business makes me want to hide in the corner.

  15. When I was little , my grandmother had one of the exercise loungers you showed and we loved to play on it. I never saw her use it, but it was a challenge to lay flat on one of those things. So Hard! Crossfit should try to work that into their routines. Thanks for the funny memory!!

  16. I have a crush on CrossFit from afar--very very far. When I first started strength training I would go look at the workouts every few days and think "Um...well."
    Now I just think "Let's see if I can work up to more than four miles on the exercise bike, huh? Slowly?"

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

  17. I much prefer the CrankyFit workout as I am a slacker of somewhat historic proportion. I came this close to joining a gym this weekend. Whew. All I really need is the Cranky Fit workout.

    Funny post!

  18. I do want to do crossfit eventually. But there's no room for those who can't do the stuff they suggest. And that bothers me.

  19. Yikes! It's like signing up for a gentle walk through the foothills and find out the guide wants you to scale the Himalayas instead.

    Now I want to be a terrorist hunter. There's a tulip-munching, azalea-chewing squirrel in the backyard who needs some terrorizing. Grrr.

  20. I'm a certified couch potato who hated exercise and decided, at the ripe old age of 38, that I needed to get off my butt. And now, 2 years later, I'm completely hooked on working out 5 days a week - CrossFitting! Am I good at it? No. I did the 120 pullups and dips - with lots and lots of big rubber bands for each and lots of panting and resting in between.

    The best thing about CrossFit is that there's no way you can watch TV or read while doing it. It engages you 100% and you will never, ever be bored and you will constantly impress yourself by doing things you never thought possible. One of my first workouts I was told I'd be doing 150 jumping pullups (you jump up to the bar - harder than it sounds) and I literally thought it would take me hours. It took 9 minutes, which would now be pretty slow for me, but at the time it was a real eye-opener that I was capable of a lot more than I thought.

    PLEASE NOTE: When I started, I would have been completely unable to do CrossFit on my own in my garage or even in a regular gym. I needed the instruction, support and supervision of a CrossFit affiliate. The ramp-up of the first few weeks was brutal. Once my body acclimated, however, I gained muscle, lost fat, built my cardiovascular system, etc. CrossFit has taught me to expect actual results from a fitness routine, because it's in CrossFit that I've seen them.

    And another note: I am still one of the lowest performers at my CrossFit gym, by virtue of my age and lack of athletic background. But my own performance is vastly improved and I've learned to be a good sport about not being tops (which I always was academically and intellectually in school, and I shunned physical activity mostly because I couldn't stand the humiliation). It's been a great character builder as well.

    Not everyone who does it likes it, but those who do, like me, tend to talk on and on about it. And being a Navy Seal is not a prerequisite to liking CrossFit. Ok, I'll shut up now.

  21. Love that everyone has their own different reactions to the CrossFit idea, and I especially appreciate hearing from the folks who've done it. That's so inspiring, Erica and Whobody and Anonymous and Charlotte!

    Sounds like it really helps to to take a class or be personally trained. Alas, I'm too stubborn and lazy, but it seems like for others it would be a great program.

  22. i have an ultrarunning friend that swears by it.. she's one tuff cookie

    does running/horseback riding count? :)


  23. Hi Crabby,

    Wonderful post. When it comes down to CrossFit, I'd rather hang out in the corner with Leah!

    And I agree with Gena, conversationally, I prefer Rachel. Perhaps we could get her to do a guest post?

    See--we fiction writers do live in a fantasy world.


  24. It seemed a great idea, until I scrolled down and saw that thursday's workout involved a number of things including 30 pull ups.
    Um. Sure. I could do those...by next month...:)
    I like the idea of it...I just wish there was a junior version for people who aren't elite athletes...is the goal to just do as much of it as you can? I suppose the only way to end up doing 30 pullups is to start with one...:)

  25. There is a Crossfit group just outside of the climbing gym Hubby goes to. In Crissy Field, with a great view of the GG Bridge!
    But I haven't gone yet. I'd like to AT some point. When I'm feeling courageous.
    (BTW, this heterosexual female is more into Rachel than Matthew. And, I also laughed out loud at the terrorist hunters comment! Oh, AND, it's gonna be 90-something freakin' degrees in the Bay Area today! Dontcha wish you were here, instead of beautiful P-Town? Oy!)

  26. I like Step 4 the best.

    This sounds a little too extreme for me, but I will read a Cranky version of this everyday to get a great ab workout (by laughing)!

  27. I had a crush on Cross Fit, but I was kind of turned off when I began seeing Cross Fit bumper stickers on cars around here. It was kind of like Cross Fit also had a crush on Cross Fit.

    Besides, I can't see doing more than 15 reps of anything.

  28. Note: I assume by "terrorist hunters" they mean: "people who hunt terrorists" and not: "hunters who use bombs to scare the bejeesus out of ducks and deer."Wow, that made me laugh so hard I almost spit out my coffee! (I didn't, though - whew! Caffeine is precious!)

    As for the CrossFit workout, I think you must have read my mind, because your list is EXACTLY how I reacted. Beginning with "Cool! A short workout!" to "They want me to what?!" and "The alternatives are WHAT?!" to "Screw it, I'm at the gym now, anyway - I'm doing my regular thing."

    EXACTLY. (Are you inside my head, Crabby?)

  29. I was just reading about CrossFit in my newspaper yesterday & was thinking how awesome a workout that would be. Well, I am one that really likes to push myself so I am a bit crazy & have been called that to my face based on the type of workout I do now. I am not sure I would make it thru it but I would love to try!

    I recently succeeded at a goal to do push-ups off the floor with a clap in between. I do tons of other types of crazy push-ups but was working to that & got it! As for pull-ups, used to be able to do them when I was younger & now have to try to get back there again just as a challenge. My back really does not need it since I respond well with weights to my back.

    I digress! Yes, I would put myself to the challenge just to prove to myself that I can do it at my age!

  30. "It's sort of like amateur porn, only it's not dirty."


    Crossfit seems to involve steps. I don't like steps. Too complicated *hrumph*

    And the thought of 120 pull-ups makes my bowels seize up. 120 Pull-ups? Really.

    And Rachel Maddow is dreamy.

  31. You should so TRY crossfit. I use to do it but now I'm more a mtnathlete kind of girl (www.mtnathlete.com). It's like crossfit x 5. Good Stuff though...

    But really don't knock crossfit until you've tried it. It is seriously kick ass!

    btw- I use to love the names too... my bf would be like... I think I'm going to do helen today. and I'd suggest another girl he'd be more compatible with. :-)

  32. Not exactly a fresh observation, but the hunter/terrorist thing made me laugh out loud too.

    Rachel Maddow is awesome. She is super smart and witty, has beautiful eyes, and unlike Matt, doesn't go around flexing her muscles and posing on the beach 24-7. Yes, I'm a hetero female, but find Rachel great and Matt annoying.

    My fitness crush is on ultra-marathoning. I think it's sick, crazy, and so cool. Since I'm not competitive, and have never been in a running race, short or long, and have no desire to do so, this crush is pure fantasy. But something about pushing yourself that hard appeals to my inner stoic (and repulses my outer slacker).

  33. I had a crush on Crossfit for a while about a year ago, even tried some very scaled down workouts, until I started reading the comments pages on the WODs and realized how often the men were openly ogling the women. I commented about it, as well as making a post on my blog, and basically got a STFU in response, so I figured I'd take my feminist self elsewhere. I've considered trying it at an affiliate, hoping the atmosphere would be better than the anonymous internet, but the price for a month is generally more than 10% of my current income, so it's just not worth it to me right now.

    I'd guess you could say it's an ex-crush for me - would have been nice, but after some time passed I'm glad I didn't, even though I still occasionally get some regret about it.

  34. A friend of mine started doing cross fit last fall and still does it now, usually at the crossfit gyms. Her strength is amazing!! She is still as enthusiastic as she was at the beginning and she kicks quite a bit male ass lifting. I'm proud of her and a bit envious of her strength and enthusiasm - but not enough to join her. :)

  35. Crabby,
    I started my foray into Crossfit back in August and am an addict now. I couldn't do a single strict push-up when I started, much less any pull-ups. Crossfit is all about learning the progressions to the harder things. I started out doing pull-ups with a rubberband that was so thick I hardly had the body weight to get into it. Now I can do 10 pull ups with nothing but me.

    its a fitness program that is flexible enough for everyone-- in fact, my almost 70 yr old mother is looking forward to trying her hand at a teaser workout at my local crossfit in just over a month when she visits and she's hardly an athlete at all. Even if all she learns that day is how to do a proper sit-up and squat, she'll be crossfitting with the crew. And thats really what sets crossfit apart-- it doesnt matter where you are on that spectrum... struggling for your first push-up from your knees, or knocking out a series of planches on some parallel bars, you're part of the community of crossfit.

  36. Rachel is beautiful.

    I just need fit. I got nothing to cross.

    but she is lovely.

  37. That post was laugh out loud funny!
    I haven't heard of Cross-Fit yet (I am sure I will if/when it gets to Australia). It certainly hasn't hit the our little town yet.
    I like to think I am doing OK but I can still only do half of one chin-up - 120...you have got to be kidding!

  38. Sounds too hard....and yet....*googling CrossFit*...I would love to be that strong....*sigh*

  39. I am a huge fan of CrossFit and have been doing for just over 2 months. I absolutely love it.
    Yes it is hard, but that sense of achievement you get from completing a WOD is the biggest high ever.

    To start out with CrossFit. Got to http://www.crossfitbrandx.com/index.php/forums/viewforum/16/ this will give you the scaled workouts. Start at Buttercup level and see how you go. Ramp it up to puppies or pack if you are already fit or just keep working away at Buttercup.

    Thanks to CrossFit, I have drop 10lbs and 5% body fat in 2 months. I have biceps for the first time ever and I think I have some abs coming through that fat layer.

  40. Oh, I so want to do Crossfit. I love lifting weights and stuff, but at the Y, chances are good, much of it won't fly- mainly because there's not enough room. There are no Crossfit gyms in my area either. But I'm trying a few elements from them, especially the crossfitmom.com workouts now that I'm preggers. And I'm using that Gravitron!

    One thing I love about checking out some of the Crossfit sites is seeing other strong women picking up heavey weights. It encourages me to keep lifting even when most of the women around me at the Y are picking up little tiny weights and looking at me like I'm nuts.

  41. I think CrossFit sounds really cool, but it scares me at the same time!

    I have a crush on boxing. Not the getting hit part, but just learning how to box with a trainer and the bags.

  42. Greetings, Cranky. I found your blog today, and now you're stuck with me. Especially if you keep posting pictures of the Divine Mr. M.

    I cannot do an unassisted pull-up, but I wonder if I can substitute 12 push-up/half-planks on the Wii Fit. No? Perhaps I can heft a couple doughnuts then.

    Thanks for the laugh today.

  43. Have any other kinds of exercises you have a crush on from afar but have trouble actually committing to?I sat on the couch for years and watched Billy Blanks Tae Bo videos. Faithfully.

  44. I don't do Crossfit per se any more, but I was fairly involved with it for about a year, and still think it's a great system. I just am now doing training less well rounded, and more specific to my sport.

    It is a bit daunting at first, the workouts are geared toward an "advanced athlete". Don't let that discourage you though - there are perfectly reasonable alternatives.

    There are usually ways to adapt the workouts to wherever you happen to be if you don't have a Crossfit gym handy too - the rules police won't come take you away if you don't do it exactly the way it's prescribed.

    BrandX publishes versions scaled to "Big Dawgs, Porch, Pack and Puppies" for all the workouts.

    Start with the "puppies" version for awhile, have fun and work your way up.


    As an aside, most untrained women (and plenty of men) can't do a pullup.

    My girlfriend Rayna couldn't do one when she started, and she can now bang out an easy 10 of them, and is working her way up to a 200lbs deadlift :-)

  45. LMAO!
    that's all i have to say. seriously.

  46. Well, just because you may have a crush from afar, this does not necessarily mean that you are destined to spend your life together with the object of your affections. Perhaps some things are just not meant to be

  47. 3 moths ago I was eating a banana roaly from baskin robins everynight and about 8 20oz sodas a day. Weighed around 230lbs. Now I eat the palio diet around 70% of the time (cant spell) but I can now at least do Fight Gone Bad with a score above 225!!! Now I am at 200lbs and can ski behind my boat which just about impossible 3 months ago. I LOVE CROSSFIT


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