Moderated CrossFit: On being SWOLE

When I first started CrossFit, I jumped in feet first. Yeah, I felt a lot of pain and sometimes frustration. But that all spurred me to work harder and learn the technical aspects of movements. I ended up taking lots of courses in Gymnastics Movement with Carl Paoli, Olympic Weightlifting, Adult Gymnastics classes, and eventually lots of Yoga classes. The latter led me to become a registered yoga teacher, which I still do.

What is both inspiring and difficult about CrossFit is its competitiveness. You really try to beat your own time. But for some of us, our goal was to be at the top of the leaderboard every class. And I always went Rx’d, which means we used the prescribed weights and reps without scaling down.

This led to a lot of injuries. Mind you, none of this was because of the coaches or programming. I mean, I was in my 40’s when I started CrossFit. So I knew better how to take care of my body. But I didn’t. I ended up with numerous problems. I have a chronic disk degeneration in my back too, which should have told me to be careful. I ended up tearing a pectoralis major muscle during the CrossFit Open. This was during my own workouts, so I blame myself. But numerous injuries in a body quickly finds the weak link in the chain. Then bad things happen. I still have shoulder problems that are problematic. And the adult gymnastics thing? Well, I over-rotated when doing a flip at the end of a trampoline run. I landed on the ball of my foot and badly tweaked a calf muscle. That injury ended a 30 year career of trail running and ultra marathoning. I’m still trying to recover from that.

But like I said, naysayers are going to blame CrossFit. The only people we can blame are ourselves. Through yoga, I’ve learned about Ahimsa. That means creating no harm to others or ourselves. It also means no judgement. I no longer compare myself to others. I don’t care if someone has a sub-3 minute Fran time. I mean, good for you, but I’ll just do my own thing. I don’t have any problem scaling down my weights and reps for a workout. In fact, I usually program my own workouts with fairly mild numbers for weights and reps. I can always lift heavier after or do some kind of afterburner work. But I don’t have to kill myself in a WOD any more than I already do.

There’s a lot of freedom in doing your own thing. But the test will be when I go back to CrossFit in a few weeks. Can I still hold back my ego and do my own thang? I’m working on that.

The Key to Success in CrossFit or any working out:

Isotonic!! That’s the best word for it. You walk around with "tone" in your body. That means you feel a sense of flexion and a bit of a pump as you walk around. Its that SWOLE feeling. Yes, it may also be called a mild soreness, but that doesn’t sound as good as SWOLE! This way, you can do another WOD day after day. Yeah, a general tiredness may mean you need to rest. But there’s no reason you can do active rest and recovery on an off-day. This may be going for a walk or a bike ride. Or maybe a light run. Even better, a yoga class, a massage, and an epsom salt bath.

Doing 100 pullups, pushups, situps, and air squats is fine every blue moon. Its a good test of your physical and mental ability. But it shouldn’t be par for the course. Your normal workout should keep your heart in target range while working through a wide range of time and load demands. Variety is the key. And being SWOLE is the goal.

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