In Pursuit of Lifting a 90 Pound Puppy

Last week I spent some time [over?]indulging, half-assing workouts and wondering where I should take my fitness routine post-Half Marathon. After having to forfeit participation in the May sprint triathlon, I felt pretty lost without a new goal. I’m not quite ready to get back into running 5 times a week, although I’m tossing around the idea of the Full Marathon [26.2!] in November. While I get my training schedule in order for that, I picked up a new addiction in under an hour: CrossFit.

CrossFit is a fitness regimen that challenges you across multiple planes of athleticism. The logic behind the routine is that athletes should well-rounded rather than specialists in a particular area of fitness [i.e. more than a runner, more than a jumper, etc.]. It is intended to improve endurance, strength, and overall health through: (1) Constantly Varied, (2) Functional Movements done at a (3) High Intensity.

Sold. High intensity interval training has always been one of my favorite forms of training [see also: my obsession with Insanity]. Unfortunately Insanity the workouts became repetitive and boring, and I’ve basically plateaued.  Lucky for me, CrossFit Charlottesville exists, I just never gave it a nod as I walked by on my way to Lunchbox or Beer Run…

[Photo Source]

Monday, Shaun and I took advantage of the free introductory class and it was incredibly insightful and challenging. After a brief warm-up [running and dynamic stretching], the trainer, Kyle, introduced us to four of the most basic CrossFit movements. We spent a good chunk of time perfecting the air squat, push-up, burpee and a modified pull-up using rings rather than a pull-up bar. For all of the Body Pump classes I’ve taken at gyms over the years and times I’ve watched Shaun T on my DVDs, I’ve never had anyone actually stare at my squat and help me fix it. The same goes for a push-up and a burpee [essentially, a push-up with a jump]. I could barely do ONE push-up with correct form. After 200 squats* and 200 burpees** at the slowest possible pace, my muscles were burning and it was clear that even with respect to the most simple movements, I have so much to learn

After the review of the movements, we had our first high intensity challenge. A sprint, followed by a pyramid: 15 reps each of air squats, burpees and ring pull-ups [the real name of this move is escaping me], then 12 reps, then 9 reps, then one last sprint… at the highest intensity level we could muster. Easy, right? NOT. Kyle’s comment was, “This isn’t for everyone. Some people want to vomit after doing these workouts.” I can see that. I was breathing harder than the moment I crossed the finish line at the half marathon, but for the first time in a while, I felt excited and challenged. I knew immediately that I’d found my newest addiction.

CrossFit certainly isn’t for everyone, but I’d encourage you to check out the introductory class. Although it’s a group session you’re competing with only yourself, meaning you do what you’re capable of and needn’t worry whether you’re using as much weight or going as fast as another person. It’s the perfect mix of personal motivation and group encouragement – a situation in which I think I thrive the most.

My new CrossFit goal in between now and the Philadelphia Marathon? Develop the strength to pick up Grady, the 90+ pound monster puppy. After all, he’s only going to get bigger. For now, though, I should just focus on recovering from my second class. My arms may or may not still be burning from the first one…

* Exaggeration. It was probably closer to ten.

** Also an extreme exaggeration. I’m a baby.


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Categories: C-Ville, Fitness


Courtney grew up in Reading, PA, and has lived in New York City (where she earned a bachelor's degree at NYU), Prague, Philadelphia, and Charlottesville (where she received a J.D. from UVa Law). Courtney and her new husband will settle in Philadelphia following a six-week Euro-trip extravaganza in September of 2012. Courtney's interests include music, writing, criticism, fitness, travel, cooking, and sports. Please enjoy the blog. LinkedIn: Tumblr:


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2 Comments on “In Pursuit of Lifting a 90 Pound Puppy”

  1. xaprb
    April 28, 2012 at 1:00 pm #

    The phrase you want is “ring row.”

    Congrats on your first workout, hope to meet you in the gym! I do middays.

    • April 28, 2012 at 1:26 pm #

      Yes. Ring row. And thanks, I just finished my 5th on ramp, so hopefully soon!

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