Crossfit day one: Snider gets back in shape

• Pull-ups: Crossfit does a specialized, full-body pull-up than involves snapping the hips, but pull-ups are one of my worst exercises: I can barely do a half-dozen regular ones, especially seeing as my shoulder is not at full strength.


Here’s where the

Crossfit angle comes in. You alternate between exercises. First set is 21 reps, second set 15, third set 9. NO BREAKS in between. 90 reps total. Oh, and you’re on the clock — not that that mattered to me; I didn’t care what my time was.


I start with the thrusters. The weight is pretty manageable. First 10, no problem, 17, 18, getting tough. 21, I can push the weight easily, but I’m already half-way gassed.

I look over at the pull-up bar with dread. I knock out maybe five, and ask Steve, “Whaddya do when you can’t do any more pull-ups, let alone 21?”

He quickly places a box below a shorter bar, so that my face is maybe six inches below it. I hop up, help my chin over the bar and lower myself down. These are really hard, but they aren’t pull-ups — because I am no longer pulling myself up.

I stumble over to the barbell. Fifteen seems like a lot. I get through them by stopping for a break at about 10. After that set, I look at the pull-up bar with something approaching panic. I’m three sets in, and have to stop for 30 seconds, hands on knees, heaving for breath. My stomach is a little upset.

I wonder if I can make it.

I do. I finish my last set of nine “pull-ups.” Steve clicks the stopwatch. Eight minutes. I am spent but don’t collapse.

Perhaps you’re wondering if an 8-minute workout has any real value. I’m going to say, uh, yes. The next day my hamstrings, quads, butt, shoulders, chest, lats and biceps, especially lats and biceps, were remarkably sore. As I write this, more than three days afterward, my biceps are still sore.

Why put myself through this? Hey, I’m sick like that. But the real answer is results. Crossfitters get results, and fast. My next class is late Wednesday afternoon. I’m pumped. I’m scared. This one’s going to be harder.

Eight minutes.

That’s how long my workout lasted on Saturday. That’s right, 8 minutes. It was my first in the Crossfit 9 program, and it took about everything I had to finish the routine.

I had rotator cuff surgery on my right shoulder in March, and just recently passed my six-month rehab mark and was cleared for full activity — which is not to say that my shoulder’s a hundred percent. I’ve been back playing basketball for about six weeks, but wanted to add a new component to my exercise regimen, wanted to move away from the standard isolation-style lifting I’ve done for years: bench presses, curls, etc.

Crossfit is a program geared toward overall strength building that comes through multiple-movement exercises. It uses short, high-intensity workouts that build strength, endurance and balance all at once.

My instructor is Steve Ashton, owner of Anytime Fitness at 900 Central Ave. in St. Pete. A former Green Beret, he’s easily the fittest 47-year-old I know. I walked into his exercise room/torture chamber at 10 a.m. with a combination of excitement and fear.

I knew Crossfit was not for the faint of heart. I’m a competitive geezer, but wasn’t sure if I was quite up to this sort of thing. I’d tuned up for my first workout by doing a kettlebell class with Steve, which entails swinging and lugging these large cast iron balls with handles on them. My legs and shoulders were already sore.

Steve outlined my workout, a baseline for Crossfit. It included just two exercises:

• Thrusters: You prop a weighted barbell below your chin, drop into a squat, then push upward and thrust the bar over your head. It’s basically two exercises in one — a squat and an overhead press. Taking a conservative approach, Steve set me up with 65 pounds.

About The Author

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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