Home for the Holidays

Back to the home gym. Not my favorite way to get a workout in. Exercising at home and outside is one of many measures our household is taking to minimize risk to others and ourselves.

Reopening was a personal relief and awakening. I had struggled to exercise with any kind of consistency or intensity on my own. Getting together with my peeps was a realization that community exercise was critical to my personal mental and physical health: my discovery was hardly novel.

Desk jockey needs to “work” out. I sit and sit and sit some more. A computer screen, virtual conferencing and telephone are the current tools to communicate in the year of isolation.

What of gatherings and the risks of COVID? My own thinking and the compartmentalization of that thinking demonstrates the cognitive bias my ego prefers: let us lift heavy things at high intensity. We’ll do it together. Community. This is the CrossFit way. 

Our latest lock down (or “freeze”) feels more painful than the first. There was much anticipation of holiday gatherings on each side of our family. We have cancelled our events. Unfortunately, I have disappointed those I love. The financial stability of my favorite gym? I anxiously awaited the opening Emergency Small Business Assistance Fund for announcement.  Then, watched it evaporate 20 minutes after it opened. Freeze first, help later…?

Like the flu we knew the winter months would mean bad news for the spread of COVID. The future is now, and shit is getting hectic. Major relapse. Even as we implement these lock downs – at the rate things are going – lots of people will suffer. Both the disease and the cure will continue to bring harsh outcomes. It is a horrible situation.

Social distancing is a luxury many can’t afford. Vermont actually did something about it.

Initially, face coverings were not required in gyms. I did not wear mine. Looking back, I feel the tinge of shame.  My wife had cancer. What was I thinking? Class sizes were small but I was just not connecting the dots on the simplicity of being smart about gathering together. I felt a sense of relief when face coverings were mandated across the board. It was the push I needed to screw my head on.  

Home for the holidays? Not the way we wanted. COVID takes away that which cannot be replaced; time is not renewable. As much as we are committed to making up the lost time together it’s frustrating and hurtful to our loved ones who would rather take the risk of getting sick.

Have you seen a CrossFit workout? It’s an interesting spectacle. Sharing an enclosed space while grunting, huffing and puffing is obviously a higher risk scenario than compared to say sitting at a computer in an office space. Compound movements performed at high intensity. We lift weights, climb ropes, flip tires, roll on the floor – you name it we’re probably doing it. People pushing themselves to physical sickness does happen: as a trainer it’s not a recommendation I strive for. Ultimately, when the clock starts ticking intensity is up to the athlete. And, many do push themselves.   

Wearing a face covering I protect others and myself: exercise improves immunity and resilience.  I assumed gym ownership thought masks would be a deal breaker for its members. Perhaps they worried clients would simply cancel rather than protect others, support the gym, and improve their fitness. I never asked. Instead, I chose to promote the gym and fitness as being essential to overall health. It made me uncomfortable. But, I did it anyway. I need this… Me.

Scientists say the coronavirus is airborne. Here’s what that means.

Crossfit was founded on the care and sense of responsibility for the health of his community. Much of this philosophy is at the core of training materials required by CFHQ. Franchise gyms have a great degree of autonomy.  How an individual CF gym expresses itself varies. Here is one example that inspires me: https://www.crossfit.com/essentials/creating-community-during-covid-lessons-from-cohort-crossfit

Coronavirus is not an equal-opportunity pathogen The people who are most likely to be tested, and to have the easiest time quarantining or isolating, are also the least likely to get sick and die from the virus. VOX

I’m disappointed that I can’t hit the gym. This week my mind is swirling with the “what ifs”. That’s part of the nefariousness of COVID. One could be spreading it and never know. Yet, one can avoid spreading COVID by simply isolating. It’s lonely. It’s the antithesis of our basic human needs and certainly a driver of our fatigue to keeping our separation from others forthright.

The Community Gyms Coalition in one political option to encourage congress to provide financial relief for gyms.  If you have the resources #noquitnovember inspires gym goers to keep their memberships during the lockdowns. The home gym is where its at right now. That’s my play. Stay safe and healthy my friends.

Get Active – Stay Active!

Nearing my sixth year working out at Crossfit Newport – I continue to be grateful for this particular approach to fitness. During these times… Exercise and diet are more important than ever. While certainly not the only determinants of health and wellness – the frequency with which we move and the fuel we provide our bodies are unquestionably critical to maintaining our wellbeing.

“Oftentimes we see self-improvement merely as goal achievement. Tim Ferriss notes that achievement is only 50% of it. He says, “The other 50% is gratitude and appreciating what you already have, not focusing solely on future accomplishments.” – Noelle Bloom (Interviewing Tim)

Obesity, diabetes, heart disease and more: “Chronic diseases are defined broadly as conditions that last 1 year or more and require ongoing medical attention or limit activities of daily living or both. Chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes are the leading causes of death and disability in the United States. They are also leading drivers of the nation’s $3.5 trillion in annual health care costs.” – CDC.

Stack COVID-19 with one or more possible comorbidities and a bad situation has become even more dangerous.

Filmed at classes in August (www.crossfitnewport.com) How many different movements in this video? Front squat, ring dips, running, box jumps, rope climbers, squat clean, jump rope, walking lunges, row, push ups, push jerk, wall balls, box jump overs, air squat, power clean, various yoga, burpee bar jump overs, pull ups. Maybe more…

What’s the fix? A clean and healthy diet. Exercise. Movement.  Not difficulty in theory.  Right? “The truth is a lot of people want wellness, but it’s really not about a quick fix. It’s about a lifestyle, and it’s tough, especially if you’re not coming from a place of wellness.” – Brad Stulberg

About six years ago I discovered my silver bullet. Sounds cliché. And, for a time it was in our cultural lexicon. The numbers speak for themselves: CrossFit has 13,000 gyms in more than 120 countries, up from just 13 in 2005.  That’s pretty amazing growth.

Those closest to me are unsurprised at my continued reverence and affirmations for one of my favorite hobbies and life shaper.  Although, no longer the buzzword it once used to be, the activity model remains unchanged for the average athlete attending classes at thousands of gyms or “boxes” across the globe.  Crossfit continues to implement “constantly varied functional movements executed at high intensity across broad time and modal domains.”

Recently, at my workplace we have convened our Wellness Committee. As I was brain storming what kind of survey questions we might ask employees I realized we might try and determine our shared language and vocabulary. What does wellness mean, anyway? What constitutes quality of life for one may be very different for another. Work in progress.

Crossfit Newport, my gym, like many businesses has experienced hard times during COVID.   After closing the doors we initially followed the enthusiasm of our ownership, trainers and other athletes with many creative variations of workouts replicated at home. 

During our early response to Coronavirus I was thrust into some of the longest days of my working career.  At the front lines of emergency response for our County my workout routine was sidelined. I felt like I was lucky to get though the day, after day, after day – trying to avoid burn out. I found it difficult to get motivated without my fellow comrades, under the watchful eye of a trainer and the pressure of the timer in the center of the gym.

The months away from the gym had a few silver linings. My appreciation for a place to congregate has been reignited. The sense of “community” that we feel from our place of anaerobic worship is the the real deal. People need people.  My home routine resembled more of our average warm up at class than and actual hi intensity strength and cardio session. Thankfully, the gym closure felt short lived with the blurring of workdays. A few of my intermittent aches and pains had magically resolved themselves after the extended period of rest. A little bonus.

As we reengaged at the gym – our newest trainer took over my former position as MWF training lead.  For the first time in nearly five years I was able to be a student athlete, once again. Now, I have some extra time. I am free from the cognitive load of preparing to teach class.

I love the quote because it’s often one that I need to be reminded of. Procrastinating until I have the perfect set and setting or waiting until I acquire the perfect gear for my fantasy activity: I have been guilty of both more than once. But, when I do break it down the objective to simpler components and get my ass in gear – yes, I realize it’s often mental. Mind games. Fear. Low self-confidence.

Five years training Crossfit at an average of 2 hours per class (including travel and preparation) is a total of roughly 1,440 hours.  Instead of a 4:20 AM alarm setting – it’s now 4:45 AM. Instead of reviewing “points of performance” and lifting cues (CrossFit’s anatomy and biomechanics Cliff Notes) at 9 PM – I am free to watch Netflix.  Total time savings not teaching classes = 12 hours per month. Sleeping in until the very last minute before working out = priceless. Nevertheless, I still like to take a shower, make a cup of coffee and “wake up” before working out.  

But, currently… I don’t have to.

Since the gym has reopened, I have been working out and average of two days a week. The experience has been fantastic! After a couple of weeks of acclimation, the spark returned. I am reliving “the feeling” I discovered six years ago as I began to exercise on the regular. I LOVE it all over again! (www.crossfitnewport.com)