Back at Crossfit, gettin' in shape.

We spent a good 20 minutes learning the technique of a clean. (Steve's a stickler for learning technique, so that you can get the most benefit out of the exercise and avoid injury.)

The other two components of The Chief are push-ups (click here for video) and unweighted squats (what are sometimes called deep knee-bends).

Like all Crossfit workouts, the Chief is high-intensity and works virtually every muscle group in your body. Here's how Steve set me up:

Two cleans with 85 pounds (maybe 75, I can't remember), followed by four push-ups, followed by six squats. You do this sequence over and over (at as fast a clip as you can manage) for three minutes. Then you get a one-minute break. Repeat five times total. 18 minutes in all.

Maybe it was because Steve rolled back the routine, or maybe (I hope) it's because my body is starting to respond, but The Chief didn't kill me, didn't put that deck-of-the-Titanic look in my eyes, didn't double me over gasping halfway through, wondering if I should quit and crawl to my car.

Was it easy? Fuck no. But I was able to keep doing the sequence with very little stop time. I ended up doing five or six push-ups at a time instead of four. During the fifth and final segment, Steve called out "30 seconds." I could've stalled and took my time on the push-ups and squats, but I muscled up and made sure I got in two last cleans. I finished at about 18:03. Exhausted and proud. Heaving and happy.

After reading this, I'm guessing some of you are saying to yourself, "Hell, I'm not in good enough shape to even attempt that." But you're wrong. The Crossfit program is meant to be tailored for all fitness levels. I did a scaled-back version of The Chief; Steve will certainly scale it down more for others. This is good stuff, folks.

If you're interested in checking it out — you can stop by and observe — call Steve at 727.502.9100.

Wanna get in shape — in a hurry?

That's what I wanted — and it's working. I started Crossfit about three weeks ago, and blogged about my first, damn-near-killed-me routine that lasted all of eight minutes. Since then, I've done one more workout that was even harder than the first, but got waylaid from the program for various reasons.

But I'm back at it.

The full-on Crossfit program calls for something crazy like four days on and one day off. I'm not about to go there, not yet at least.

Yesterday at 6:30 p.m., a couple of other newbies and I convened at the Anytime Fitness (900 Central Ave., St. Pete) owned by Steve Ashton, a certified Crossfit trainer.

He was in a merciful mood, or maybe he didn't want to scare us off. He had designed a scaled-down workout that I'll get to in a minute.

Crossfit is all about multiple body-part exercises that, its website says, "deliver a fitness that is, by design, broad, general, and inclusive. Our specialty is not specializing. Combat, survival, many sports, and life reward this kind of fitness and, on average, punish the specialist."

Speaking of punishment, that's a fair description of Crossfit — but, y'know, the kind of punishment that's very good for you. Conversely, does doing three sets of arm curls or bench presses and then taking an ample break really punish you? Not so much.

Each Crossfit routine has a name. Last night's was called The Chief. Its main, and most challenging, exercise is the "clean." This one's tough to describe in words, but basically it's pulling — snapping, really — a weighted barbell from the floor to shoulder height. It's the first part of the Olympic lift called the "clean and jerk." Those words don't do the exercise justice, so check out this video.

Eric Snider

Eric Snider is the dean of Bay area music critics. He started in the early 1980s as one of the founding members of Music magazine, a free bi-monthly. He was the pop music critic for the then-St. Petersburg Times from ‘87-’93. Snider was the music critic, arts editor and senior editor of Weekly Planet/Creative...
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