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Chip Meets CrossFit: Episode 2 – Learning the Skills


Chip Meets CrossFit: Episode 2 – Learning the Skills

I finally made my first trip to the box, survived my trial workout, and had proven to some degree of certainty that I was going to follow through with CrossFit. The next step was to learn all the ‘movements’ necessary in CrossFit by going through a series of training sessions called ‘On-Ramp’.  This is when the Modig Fitness coaches lead a small group of rookies through five one-hour sessions to train us on movement standards, and introduce beginner level workouts.  These sessions also provide the coach the opportunity to learn about you, any modifications you might need in workouts, prior or current injuries, strengths, and weaknesses.  They also provide one more chance to ask yourself “is this right for you?”

In the spirit of anonymity, and because I’m too lazy to get approval to use her name, I’ll call my ‘On-Ramp’ coach “William.”  William is not a physically imposing person, but clearly had more than double the power to weight ratio of me (actually as I look back, probably triple).  Judging by the size and definition of her quads, I was pretty confident she could squat a small condominium.  She has been a coach for some time, has her CrossFit Level 1 and Outlaw Training Camp Para Bellum Series certifications, and probably some others I don’t know, or can’t remember.  She was my second experience with a coach from this box, and they were batting two for two.

My On-Ramp class consisted of 5 newbies, 2 women and 3 men. I’d like to think I was the best athlete among them.  I also like to think I’m going to be a billionaire someday, but I digress.  It turned out I was probably the worst athlete in the group.  We were instructed on dynamic warm-ups, mobility drills, and stretching techniques.  We learned about high hanging snatches, clean and jerks, push presses, squats, kipping pull-ups, double-unders, toes to bar, box jumps, and a bunch of other exercises seemingly named with some sort of sexual innuendo.  I was one of those guys that made jokes about all the names for these things before I started CrossFit, but after learning about some of these things, I can say that I still am.  I know this is childish, but how can you not giggle when you talk about clean and jerking after a high hanging snatch?

I made one near fatal mistake during this period; I missed one class.  William was very accommodating and let me ‘make up’ the class.  By myself.  Solo.  Just me and the coach.  As if I wasn’t intimidated enough going with 4 other CrossFit virgins, where my mistakes would at least be partially camouflaged by the mistakes of the others, now I had to go it alone.  Once again, I was mildly surprised by the patience she showed, and by the good-natured environment where you learn.

Two interesting things happened during this hour of one on one coaching with William.  First, another ‘regular’ CrossFitter named Trudy happened to stop by on her way home from work, introduced herself to me, and then proceeded to show William how she had figured out how to do a bar muscle up.  In a dress.  After she took off her heels.  I didn’t even know what the hell a bar muscle up was, but after I saw her do it, I lamented this was yet one more thing I couldn’t do.  Part of me wanted to slap her across the face for bragging, but I don’t hit women.  Not to mention she would have wiped the floor with my bludgeoned body if I had struck her. It was a long time before I understood how proud she must have felt about this, because it was a long time before I had one of my own large successes to enjoy.  In fact Trudy and William were both part of that first big success for me, but that’ll come in a later episode.

It was at this point I realized everybody was working on something.  No one had mastered everything. As I watched Trudy do this new ‘bar muscle up’ thingy, I knew that I had a lot of work in front of me.  Along with William, I had met a couple other females that weren’t just females, they were athletes.  I still joke with them to this day that there are no women or men in our box, just athletes.

The second interesting thing that happened during my private coaching session was that William tried to kill me.  Okay maybe not literally, but it sure felt like it! Toward the end of each of the previous On-Ramp sessions, we had been put through the paces with a beginner level workout. It pretty much showed William just how little we had retained!  That day, however, sensing my new found confidence, or perhaps my ever-existent smartass demeanor, she put me through a more ‘normal’ workout.  I think it only lasted about 12 minutes, but it felt somewhere just shy of six and a half hours.  After I finished calling William a whole bunch of nasty names under my breath, she gave me a high five and told me I had done well.  She must have been lying because I’m sure I looked like I slept on the highway the night before, but it was enough for me.  My heart rate dropped back to normal, my temperature declined, and my smile returned.

I continued on for 2 more On-Ramp classes with the rest of my rookie group, and learned a whole lot more.  Truthfully I learned I really didn’t know anything, but it would be fun figuring it out over the coming weeks/months. We talked about eating Paleo, and William provided some nutritional advice.  I almost felt like I needed to bring in a recipe book so we could trade.  Actually, no, I didn’t, but I did read up on this whole Paleo thing, and I follow some of it to this day.  To quote a t-shirt I saw recently, “I’m 100% Paleo, 70% of the time.”

After the seemingly arduous trek through a ‘trial workout’ and five separate On-Ramp classes, we were told something slightly terrifying:  We were ready for real workouts.

By: Chip Sudolnik