Wednesday, 2 November 2011

It's the good kind of pain

Hello there!  Welcome to Wednesday already!  I hope you had a really great Halloween.  We went to a party on the weekend - I dressed up as, in keeping with my paleo eating, a cavewoman.  This costume came together almost by accident, but it worked out well, and I had tons of fun making a necklace with the "teeth" of a saber tooth tiger, and wearing my hair super messy, and literally smearing dirt all over my face and arms.  Well, it was potting soil, not dirt from outside.  But still, it looked dirty and fabulous!

I must admit, I fell out of my paleo ways over the last week and a half.  It was my first PMS times with paleo, and it was absolute hell for cravings.  I gave in.  A lot.  I also didn't go to the gym for an entire week, partly due to feeling crappy, and partly due to the gym having some workouts with pumpkins, and wearing costumes, that I just didn't feel like being a part of (though I still think it's awesome).

I really lost my mojo for that period of time.  I did not feel well or super happy.  I definitely need better coping mechanisms to deal with cravings and motivation, because I can't be eating like that for an entire week, and not exercising because I don't feel well.

I reset my diet yesterday (after Halloween candy on Monday night), and made it back to the gym, and I'm starting to feel good again.  I realized today that exercise gives me my mojo!  This is the first time in my life I can say this, because I've never really found exercise that I really enjoy and want to keep doing.  Today, I feel that wonderful pain in my body that comes from challenging it in brand new ways.

This seems to be the right time to tell you about CrossFit - I've been going for nearly 2 months now.  What is CrossFit?  Directly from the Academy of Lions website, I give you this explanation:
"CrossFit is a core strength and conditioning program developed to enhance an individual’s competency at all physical tasks. Our athletes are trained to perform successfully at multiple, diverse, and randomized physical challenges. This fitness is demanded of military and police personnel, firefighters, and many sports requiring total or complete physical prowess.
In gyms and health clubs throughout the world the typical workout consists of isolation movements and extended aerobic sessions. The fitness community from trainers to the magazines has the exercising public believing that lateral raises, curls, leg extensions, sit-ups and the like combined with 20-40 minute stints on the stationary bike or treadmill are going to lead to some kind of great fitness. Well, at CrossFit we work exclusively with compound movements and shorter high intensity cardiovascular sessions. We’ve replaced the lateral raise with push-press, the curl with pull-ups, and the leg extension with squats. Our approach is consistent with what is practiced in elite training programs associated with major university athletic teams and professional sports. CrossFit endeavors to bring state-of-the-art coaching techniques to the general public and athlete who haven’t access to current technologies, research, and coaching methods.
And why Crossfit?  Who is it good for?
"The question regularly arises as to the applicability of a regimen like CrossFit’s to older and de-conditioned or detrained populations. The needs of an Olympic athlete and our grandparents differ by degree not kind. Increased power, strength, cardiovascular and respiratory endurance, flexibility, stamina, coordination, agility and balance are each important to the world’s best athletes and your grandmother. The amazing truth is that the very same methods that elicit optimal response in the Olympic or professional athlete will optimize the same response in the elderly. Of course, we can’t load your grandmother with the same squatting weight that we’d assign an Olympic skier, but they both need to squat.
Whether you are a professional soccer player or a soccer mom, we treat all our clients athletes. This is because athletes experience a protection from the ravages of aging and disease that non-athletes never find. For instance, 80-year-old athletes are stronger than non-athletes in their prime at 25 years old. If you think that strength isn’t important consider that strength loss is what puts people in nursing homes. Athletes have greater bone density, stronger immune systems, less coronary heart disease, reduced cancer risk, fewer strokes, and less depression than non-athletes."
What does this mean to me?  An exercise program that is varied and never boring, and where I learn tons of new things, including lifting.  I've used kettlebells, ropes, 300 lb tires, sledgehammers, empty beer kegs, weights, barbells, rings, bars, boxes, and the wall.  I feel challenged every time, and wake up the next day with a wonderful soreness that can only come from this kind of exercise.

So from my perspective when I walk in the gym, here's what I do:

Warm-up (can take about 20 minutes)

Joint Mobility
This consists of skipping rope (300 singles or 100 double unders), leg swings, shoulder stretches with a PVC pole, pistols, and technical squats.

Dynamic
This consists sit ups, back extensions, push ups, pull ups, and ring dips.

The WOD (Workout of the Day)

This is a workout selected by the programmer of my gym, which changes every day.  I'll give you a few examples of some WODs I've done, just to give you an idea:

4 Turkish get-ups (get up from supine position and lie back down, with arm raised above head with kettlebell)
10 hang cleans (a lift)
20 kettlebell swings (swinging a kettlebell from between your knees up to chest height)
- 7 rounds for time

Wall walk (facing away from wall, plant hands on floor, flip legs up behind you, and walk up and down the wall)
Toes to bar/rings (hang off bar or rings, swing your legs up so your toes reach the bar/rings)
Knees to squat (start on knees, jump up with momentum to squatting position)
- Rounds with 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 of each, for time

Morrison (some of the WODs are named after fallen soldiers):
Wall balls (squat down in front of wall, throw medicine ball up high on wall, catch it on way up from squat)
Box jumps (jumping up and down on a box - there are different heights for different challenge levels)
Kettlebell swings
- Rounds with 50-40-30-20-10 of each, for time (this one was KILLER!)

30 squat cleans (a lift)
30 pull ups (pull ups on bar)
800 m run (out the door, around the corner, around the block and back)
- 3 rounds for time

Whittman:
15 kettlebell swings
15 power cleans (a lift)
15 box jumps
- 7 rounds for time

You get the idea.  Different all the time, and super challenging.  Most workouts typically last 15-25 minutes, and I can tell you that your heart is racing the entire time.  It's a fantastic cardio workout.  I have become considerably stronger since starting, and you actually notice within a week that you're stronger.  I'm growing muscle where there was only ever fat before (see triceps, hamstrings and glutes).  I'm gaining endurance as well.

The thing I love about CrossFit, and particularly Academy of Lions, is the amazing sense of community there.  Everyone helps each other out and cheers each other on.  We start together and finish together.  The coaches all know your name.  They know your abilities, and help you modify movements if you aren't quite strong enough, or if you're injured.  They really want you to suceed.  You see the same friendly faces every day of people who really want to be there.

Academy of Lions itself it pretty cool - it's way more than a gym.  They have the Academy of Lions // General Store, serving up Americanos, espresso, coconut milk and almond milk lattes and cappucinos, along with 100% paleo/primal baked treats (very few ingredients, and sugar free).  Through the General Store, I can also get a bunch of things for my kitchen, including the coconut milk I like (the only kind without BPA lining in the can), the most amazing coconut water I've ever tasted (Blue Monkey), coconut oil and butter, nuts, different dried fruit, nut butters, jerky, and frozen meats from Beretta Farms.

Academy of Lions is also about giving to the community.  Through the not for profit Academy of Lions Foundation, they offer after school programming and boot camps for youth, as well as youth internships for coaching, organizational operations, and the School of Hustle clothing company.

For more info on Academy of Lions, located on Dundas St. West, just west of Ossington, please visit their website, and get in touch with them to set up a trial class to see if you like it.  Programming is more expensive there than at a typical gym, but what you pay for is quality coaching with every class, and it's worth every penny; it actually gets you in shape.  I've been going 3-4 times per week now for almost 2 months, and my body has been thanking me ever since, with that glorious pain that makes me feel alive.  I'm definitely in this for the long term.

~C.

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