Tag Archives: longevity

The Naked Truth: Culture, Crossfit and Perception of the Human Body

push up

If I stare at you during a WOD, I’m not checking you out; I’m watching your mechanics.

I am a visual learner.

I can’t speak for every Crossfitter, but during a WOD, there’s no time for fantasy. If I do have a moment to ogle my friends, it’s to analyze their form, not their junk.

I have lived in Europe for nearly eight years, and I suppose I’ve been a little desensitized to the human body, because around any corner, something unexpected can pop out at you. My youngest daughter was still in her car seat when she first chimed out, “What’s Dolly Buster?” I had to explain it wasn’t a place where they sold children’s toys.

The body takes on a certain kind of practicality here. It can be beautiful or ugly, but it is natural, and many Europeans let it all hang out. It’s not a big deal–and it’s not always sexual. It seems more hypocritical to me for a culture to constantly sexualize the body, and then be shocked or offended by actual nakedness.

There’s nothing wrong with modesty–in fact, it’s something I like to instill in my daughters, but the body is nothing to be ashamed of either. It is a body. And everyone has one.

Sometimes our American perception of the body creates problems. For example, we don’t want to take physical care of our elderly because it might include dealing with someone’s nakedness. So, we hire nurses, or stow away the elderly in nursing homes rather than get over our shock at an old, wrinkled body and do the dirty work ourselves.

One thing that Crossfit in Germany has taught me is that the body is just a body. It can do incredible things if you put the time and effort into maintaining it. But there is also an extremely practical side to Crossfit–it enables me to do things like help lift my mom (in her wheelchair) up some stairs so she can enjoy a movie with us; or even place her safely into bed if she’s feeling weak that night.

The strength I gain at Crossfit not only enhances my life, but it improves her quality of life as well.

I’m not entirely angelic here. I DO like the way my body is shaping up; and I DO like feeling more attractive. But the real satisfaction is in being strong enough to help other people.

I may be odd, but I’m not attracted to a person’s body any more than I’m bowled over by flowery words. I’m a writer, so I know how cheap good rhetoric can be. Action is the evidence for one’s beliefs. In a similar way, I’m not attracted to bodies, though I am a sucker for a good set of eyes–the windows of the soul–and a great smile–but mostly, to actions & behaviors.

Having a ‘hot’ body is not the sole purpose for Crossfit: the purpose of Crossfit is to improve your body and mind so that you can not only enjoy this life to the fullest, but to help others do the same. 

There’s more I’d like to say on this subject, but it’s time for me to sign off–I have some people to uplift. 

It’s Crossfit–You Have to be a Little cRaZy

aqua exercise

It’s hard when someone says, “How’re you doing?” because sometimes I just stand there trying to think of what to reply. I don’t want to lie, but I also don’t want to spontaneously vomit my sour garbage on some unsuspecting person who is only making a friendly greeting.

So, I stood there like a bird who bumped a little too hard into a window when our coach answered (for me): “Good. You’re good.”

It was a command, so I guess I was good.

And really, I was good because I was at the box with my son and my friends.

The happy fuzzy feelings of camaraderie would soon be replaced by physical torment, but that’s why I was there–to work it all out with kettle bells, which was the instrument of torture for the day.

Actually (and don’t tell my coach) I love kettle bells. I’m not great with them, (my double snatches are horrid) but I guess I like being able to HOLD the buggers, since they are equipped with those convenient handles.

If I have to file a single complaint about our box, it’s the limited quantity of 12 kg kettle bells. There are a couple sets of bulbous Smurf-blue ones (which I DON’T love) and one more compact set that leaves flakes of metal on your skin. I might buy my own, paint them with rainbows and flowers and bring them with me.

I grabbed the flaky kettle bells (before anyone else could get them, as they are highly sought after), when my friend Steffi said, “Are you crazy?”

Another good question.

I’ve heard that before: marathon running, Crossfitting–don’t those endeavors take a touch of craziness that soon becomes so incredibly normal you think everyone else is crazy for NOT doing it.

Then I took a good look at the board.

4 sets

20 KB swings; 20 KB cleans; 20 KB squats; 10 front rack KB lunges; 10 KB jerk or press

Then 15-15-15-10-10, then 10-10-10-10-10, and finally (the easy round) 5-5-5-10-10.

The penalty for setting them down was 20 pull-up burpees and immortal shame. Shame I can handle, burpees of any sort–not so much. I would do ANYTHING to avoid burpees.

I grabbed the 8-kilogram kettle bells.

I KNEW that I could at least use the precious, flaky 12s for one round, and thus, I would feel that I’d challenged myself (something I’m trying to do this year).

I did the first two rounds with the 8s and then picked up the 12s, incredibly THANKFUL for Steffi, the voice of reason. I respect her opinion because a) she’s been doing this for a while, and b) I’ve seen her squat. You just have to listen to someone who has really great form.

That said, I also remembered how I had made it through difficult WODs in the past, and I knew I could do one round with 12s without penalty. The real bitch about the penalty is that even if you do the burpees, you still have to finish the kettle bell round. So why put those suckers down at all? I would rather have both my arms fall off (fingers still gripped to the handles, of course) before I would drop those kettle bells.

For the amount of love I have for kettle bells comes an equal and opposite amount of hatred for burpees.

It’s all about a healthy balance.

While I was slogging it out in round three, Rob stole my 8kg kettle bells, which meant, I HAD to use the 12-kgs for the last round.


But it was only 5 more, right?

Crap. Again.

This is going to sound straight out of a cheesy karate movie, but when those last five bastard push-presses got really hard, I thought of a situation that had been stressing me out. I literally thought: If I can do this, I can make it through anything. 

I also thought a few bad things.

It was a therapeutic WOD.

Many people don’t understand Crossfit–they think it’s the same as any other fitness class, which you take for a while, but then stop when something new comes along. Someone had the nerve, or just plain ignorance, to tell me: “I think you’ll do it for a while, but then you’ll quit.”

My answer, from which I refrained verbalizing, was one of my favorite quotes from Pride & Prejudice:

“You think that, if it gives you comfort.” 

Crossfit is my therapy. It’s where my friends are. I want to be Crossfitting when I’m 90, not listening to people bitch about their bad health during aqua zumba.

Crossfit is for my longevity, but it’s also for the here and now.

And right here, right now, I need a little bit of something crazy to keep myself sane.