There’s a new fitness craze in town. It comes on the back of boot camp style back to basics workouts that moved people out of the gym and into local parks where they could emulate their televised overweight selves being pushed by celebrity personal trainers. It’s called Cross fit and it seems to be transforming the chubbies to the chiseled all over town.
I had resisted learning anything about cross fit until an old training buddy posted a photo of herself on Facebook. She looked fitter than she had ever looked when we were training together and we trained hard.
Suddenly I was interested, but wasn’t a workout just a workout?
She sent me links to cross fit promotional clips and gushed about how inspiring it was and hard and exhilarating, an all round fitness feeling, she said.
There was that expression again, all round fitness. I hadn’t heard that since my sad association with the institutionalized fitness of the 70’s and 80’s during my school years.
Back then, and if the truth be told, now as well, physical education or P.E. was never one of my strong points. Gymnasium activities were compulsory and designed to promote a healthy all round fitness for young growing kids. Sometimes it was also called Physical Culture, perhaps to apply a level of sophistication to fitness that could allow it to be discussed in educational terms. P.E. was a marked unit of study and extra curricular “fizzie” classes were seen as fun homework and were all the rage in the 1970’s.
“Fizzie” was never something I was interested in. It wasn’t that I was not a sporty child, because I was quite active in body and mind, it was more that I was uncoordinated, some would say clumsy even, and definitely not suited to gymnasium activities.
The pommel horse for one was a logistical nightmare for someone with two right feet, two left hands and the perspective of a third eye pointed inwards. I would either miss the mini trampoline launch pad altogether or spring up off the trampoline and slam into the side of the horse and then land ungracefully on the smelly blue gym mat. Eventually the P.E. teacher excused me from the pommel horse and restricted my activities to floor exercises where I faired no better, easily defeated by the dreaded backward roll.
The fact that my hand eye coordination was non-existent didn’t help matters outside of the gym either. Outside of the gym I was the bench warmer only called in to play when a strategic loss was on the agenda. My friends wanted me on their team but only for motivational purposes. Sometimes it wasn’t just what I said that made them feel better it was also a boost to their egos when they compared their abilities to my comic efforts at ball play.
Bike riding proved to be my athletic saving grace. It is ironic really that my inability to balance on two feet would be overshadowed by my incredible ability to balance effortlessly on two wheels. In many ways being on two wheels has always felt more natural than standing on my two feet. My feet trip and stumble whereas my wheels roll effortlessly towards my goals.
By age 15 I had wheels and spent up to four hours before school each morning riding towards my childhood Olympic dream. The torture of P.E. class was transformed into 45 minutes of nap time on the mats that weren’t so smelly after all. Out of school I had started working out in a homemade gym in my coaches garage. Gym sessions were focused and specific and continued throughout my entire racing career. I didn’t work out for all round fitness, I just wanted to ride a bike fast.
When I looked up an example of a cross fit workout I had to first download a glossary of terms. The gym was called a ‘box’ to imply the raw natured unwankiness of it all, the routine or workout of the day was simply the ‘WOD’, cross fit was CF and personal bests or PB’s were commonplace as everyone ‘genuinely’ cheered each other on in a supportive environment. Devotees were also encouraged to eat a caveman style diet of proteins, veggies, fruits, roots and nuts and shun the evil carbs, grains and dairy products that make up so much of the fun food.
Okay so the diet would be hard but I could do hang cleans, squats, deadlifts, lunges and burpees, maybe it was time I joined the cross fit cult? Or at least this was what I was thinking until my newly chiseled old training buddy said it was also a good idea to leave my attitude and ego at the door.
No, that was never going to happen. Oh sure the attitude could sit it out but Ego and I travel as one unit, inseparable. My ego serves only me. In reality I truly don’t care what other people look like unless it has a bearing on me and then the question is how could it possibly have any bearing on me? Oh no, me and ego have gone through too much to abandon each other now, it looked like cross fit and I were not going to be friends.
Realising that I would never be able to join a group of ego-less trainers in a box, sweating over the WOD and hoping for a PB so I could post my results on the platform of egocentrism – Facebook, I decided to go for a ride. Catching a reflection of my diamond shaped calves and muscular thigh in a shop window I smiled, maybe I’m not all round fit or have chiselled looks like my old training buddy, but ego and I are doing just fine all the same.
“Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar” Sigmund Freud.