CrossFit: Ringing in the New Year

SKI Mag sends a blogger, Hillary Rosner, to do our dirty work: Get in shape for ski season. She joins a CrossFit gym, which is reputed to be the best—and most brutal—way to get strong fast. It may be painful, but the good news is that now Rosner has a backup job...as a brick layer. Or jackhammerer. Or contestant on that reality TV show where they pull trucks of cement. Here's how she pays—and dearly—for holiday excess.
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SKI Mag sends a blogger, Hillary Rosner, to do our dirty work: Get in shape for ski season. She joins a CrossFit gym, which is reputed to be the best—and most brutal—way to get strong fast. It may be painful, but the good news is that now Rosner has a backup job...as a brick layer. Or jackhammerer. Or contestant on that reality TV show where they pull trucks of cement. Here's how she pays—and dearly—for holiday excess.
CrossFit: New Year's

Returning to the gym after a week away is always tough. Only seven days, but somehow each pushup is harder, each kettlebell feels heavier (did I really use this weight last time?), each box jump seems higher. A week filled with holiday meals doesn't help matters. Christmas Eve's workout at Boulder CrossFit was challenging but easier than it sounds: 1 heavy clean, 5 front squats, 30 pushups, 20 pullups, 30 wallballs, 10 Turkish getups, 30 box jumps, 10 kick to handstands, 30 kettlebell swings, 150 singleunders, 20 burpees, 30 jumping lunges. (As always, the exercises are here.) I finished in 20 minutes flat.

Then I started cooking, and drinking, and baking coconut chocolate chip cookies to take to my in-laws in Albuquerque—where there were more cookies and more drinks and many plates full of tasty tamales and posole and pizza. I returned to the gym on New Year’s Eve, for a workout I thought would be a breeze. It was a team effort: each group of four people had to collectively compete 2009 reps of six exercises. One was singleunders—standard-style jumproping. No problem, I thought. If each person simply jumproped 300 times (I figured there’d be some sort of cap on the number), we’d only each need to complete 40 pushups, 40 situps, 40 squats, 40 box jumps, and 40 kettlebell swings. Easy as pie!

I marched into the gym ready to give 2009 the beating it deserved—and promptly got my butt kicked. For starters, coach Jeff Sadler had changed the singleunders to doubleunders (jump twice for each swing of the rope), which require coordination on top of stamina. To make the teamwork less confusing, he’d also decided to group the workout into two-minute intervals. Two minutes of pushups, two minutes of pull-ups, two minutes of doubleunders, and so on—with each team allowed two people working at a time. No rest in between exercises, and you simply plowed through the rotation until you reached 2009 reps total. By the end of the first round, I felt sure I would either throw up or faint if I got up off the floor. And we’d only barely passed 700. I managed to stick it out for the whole grueling 36 minutes and fourteen seconds, but would certainly have quit if it wouldn’t have left my teammates picking up the slack. As it was, my teammate Natalie made up for my wimpiness, doing nearly twice as many of each exercise as me. I returned home even angrier at 2009 than I had been already (especially now that I was sure to carry the pain with me well into 2010), and spent the rest of New Year’s Eve at home, where I passed out from sheer exhaustion before midnight.

And yes, I was back at the gym on Monday.