Jeffrey Goes to the VA, Part 6

When Saturday rolled around, Adam and I put on our workout clothes and headed down to Crossfit.  To tell you the truth I don’t remember a lot about that first workout.  I know it included “burpees;” something (amazingly) I had never heard of before that day.  It’s basically a push-up, stand up, jump with a clap overhead, repeat a zillion times.  There are a few different variations on that theme as I have since discovered but that’s basically it and they’re a lot more challenging than they sound especially if you concentrate on form at all and push yourself as hard as you can. In fact, that’s one of the base principles to all Crossfit workouts:  push yourself as hard as you can.  The coaches will push you too, and your fellow Crossfiters.  In that way it’s kind of like yoga; the beginner and the seasoned yogi are looking for the same thing—to push against their own personal wall.  The free and open workout that Saturday morning confirmed for Adam and me what we suspected, that this was what we’d been looking for.  So we told the guy who’d coached that class that we wanted to make Salt Lake City Crossfit our workout home.

Before you can start working out with the regular classes, you have to go through a couple orientation sessions to better prepare you for this style of working out.  Our coach for these sessions was Jason Moreland (pictured).  Jason knows his shit.  He’s a former mixed martial artist and all around badass.  Jason led us through some Olympic weightlifting moves and made sure that we knew how to take direction.  Jason’s also a nice guy, man of few words though, like a lot of people around Crossfit.  Sometimes I wonder if I don’t stick out a lot because I run my mouth all the time.  Anyway, Jason led us through the orientation workouts and when we’d done three of them, invited us to start attending the regular classes.

Shift gears.  Every single day during my Marine Corps training, I did something that I would have told you was beyond my grasp.  That was another in the long list of things that being a Marine has given me.  I learned to push myself so far beyond what I had always accepted as my limits, I am changed forever because of it.  From the first day I walked into Crossfit, I have walked over to where the Marine Corps flag hangs, reached up and touched it.  It’s been my personal and (up until now) secret ritual.  I do it to remind myself that I can do what I, at first might think is impossible for me.  I say in my head, “If I can do that (becoming a Marine) then I can do this (Crossfit).”  It helps that there are a few hard-charging Marines who work out at SLC Crossfit.  Just the occasional word of encouragement from another Marine means a little something extra.  I say all this to let you know that I approached Crossfit from the beginning with the intention to give it all I have.

The coaches are pretty great at keeping “newbies” from injuring themselves.  I’m also pretty good at hiding how much something hurts.  I was stupid in the beginning.  I had pretty much let myself get in shit shape since I got back from Iraq.  From the time I landed in San Diego, I was eating three hamburgers a day, drinking gallons of coffee and smoking cigarettes like they were going to be illegal tomorrow.  I’ve long since given up meat (four years or so), I don’t smoke anymore (except in meltdown moments) and I’m trying to do better with the coffee.  I never have gotten back to my peak conditioning though.  As vain as this is, my regret with regard to the movie is that I was in such shit-shape during the filming.  I have to look away when it gets to the boxer scene simply because I look so “un-Marine-like.”  No sense crying over spilt protein shake.  The best I can do now is work hard to get into the best shape of my life by the time we open in New York.  The truth is, if I work for it, “the best shape of my life” may still be ahead of me.  So like I said, when I started at Crossfit, I barreled out of the gate like a crazy man and put everything I had into every workout.  That’s not a bad thing.  But when it comes to the amount of weight one should push in the beginning, perhaps building a little momentum at first is a good idea.  I’ll also let you benefit from something else I’ve learned about Crossfit; the hour (or so) you spend in there each day pushing your own personal limits is only a part it.  I know anyone who’s ever worked with a personal trainer or read a fitness magazine has heard this but I would say that when it comes to Crossfit, this fact is especially true.  What you’re eating, how much your resting and what you’re doing to pamper your hard-worked body including stretching a LOT, is paramount.  I tell you this from experience.  I tell you this because it is the exact opposite of what I did.

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