This past weekend was the 2012 LaLanne Fitness Garage Games Kickoff. An all-day CrossFit event Saturday at LaLanne Fitness in San Francisco and the first big competition of the season for my boyfriend and his teammates from American River CrossFit in Sacramento.
After last year’s introduction to the joys of CrossFit competitions – the Fittest of the Sierra’s in South Lake Tahoe was the 1st big competition I attended – I wanted to share my advice & lifesaving tips on how best to survive one of these high intensity, rowdy, crowded events.
(1) What To Bring:
- Bring food – Lots of it. These kids can EAT, so pack unprocessed, lean meats, cheeses & nuts for snacking between workouts.
- A close second on the must have list is booze. You’ll need it and so will they. Trust me. These are work hard, play hard types and blowing off steam immediately after a brutal competition is a MUST.
- Water! I can promise you that a giant water bottle will come in handy. This weekend all three competitors ended up using my Nalgene which had to be refilled every 5 minutes.
- Camera – The biggest issues that I’ve had photo-wise is that the athletes are moving so quickly that in some cases the pictures are blurry or the camera doesn’t reset quickly enough to capture the next shot. As much as I love my Canon, this season I invested in a little HD video camera that also takes stills. Success!
(2) What To Expect:
- Lots of people – These are busy, crowded events and in addition to lots of competitors, you’ll be surrounded by members of the hosting team and tons of spectators. Expect to be bumped or asked to move to accommodate events.
- No place to sit – In some cases events will be outdoors and you’ll have bleachers to sit on, but primarily the events are indoors and you’ll be standing pressed against a wall, craning to see over the heads of the other spectators.
- A fast-paced environment – With large numbers of competitors and a handful of workouts to get through, the organizers may be rushing to get through the events. Some workouts can be “blink and you miss them” short so keep an eye on your competitor to make sure that you see everything.
- LOUD and offensively bad music. This weekend was bad. R&B bad.
(3) What To Do Afterwards:
- Plan to go out – You’d think everyone would be beyond exhausted after a day full of crazy workouts, but my experience has been that the adrenaline is still pumping and they have a few more hours of energy left in them.
- Head straight to a restaurant, trust me when I say they’ll be ready for a big meal. And if they’re paleo-people I’d pick a restaurant in advance to make sure that the menu is acceptable.
- Make sure that the restaurant you’re going to has a bar. Your competitors will definitely want a drink. Or two. Or three.
I can’t recommend checking out one of these events enough – they’re exciting and fun to watch, never a dull moment.
P.S. Ladies, in case you need some more incentive, the shirts come off about a fourth of the way through. I’m just saying.
Do you have a short attention span? Are you bored with the classes offered at your gym? Are you a highly competitive individual? Do you like to keep things interesting? Than CrossFit might be just what you need to shake up your workout routine.
In case you’re not familiar with this workout craze, here’s a short summary from the official CrossFit website:
CrossFit is the principal strength and conditioning program for many police academies and tactical operations teams, military special operations units, champion martial artists, and hundreds of other elite and professional athletes worldwide.
The CrossFit program is designed for universal scalability making it the perfect application for any committed individual regardless of experience. We’ve used our same routines for elderly individuals with heart disease and cage fighters one month out from televised bouts. We scale load and intensity; we don’t change programs.
Or in the words of CrossFit founder Greg Glassman:
“Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat. Practice and train major lifts: Deadlift, clean, squat, presses, C&J, and snatch. Similarly, master the basics of gymnastics: pull-ups, dips, rope climb, push-ups, sit-ups, presses to handstand, pirouettes, flips, splits, and holds. Bike, run, swim, row, etc, hard and fast. Five or six days per week mix these elements in as many combinations and patterns as creativity will allow. Routine is the enemy. Keep workouts short and intense. Regularly learn and play new sports.”
I feel I should warn you, CrossFit is an intense program not for the faint of heart.
I’m not going to lie. I couldn’t raise my arms after my first introductory session. This was especially devastating considering I was told I don’t know how to do proper push-ups and my pull-ups were a joke.
Words hurt you know!
From what I’ve seen, the major pros of CrossFit are: (1) The duration of the workouts. These sweat sessions will be brutal, but short (direct & to the point, thank you very much). You can absolutely fit one in mid-day, no excuses, and head back to work or school with a rosy glow. (2) You will not get bored! Each day’s WOD (workout of the day) is different, focusing on different strengths and keeping you interested and challenged. (3) I would say that the factor that has struck me the most about CrossFit is the sense of community. The individuals who regularly attend a gym (aka box) develop a close bond and are exceptionally supportive of one another. The family that sweats, toils & bleeds together, stays together!
While the cons are few and far between, I will say that the “tenets of CrossFit” such as the Paleo diet, while not required, are highly touted and recommended. As a vegan, obviously that’s not a feasible program for me, but I take personal affront at the idea that sweet potatoes should be eliminated from anyones diet (note: only strict paleo disciples exclude tubers entirely, while those following a modified paleo diet may choose to continue eating them).
The other concern that I’ve heard voiced about CrossFit is, unfortunately, the cost. While most gyms offer a free introductory class and low one-off drop in session fees, monthly membership can be steep (between $120 and $200 depending on the gym).
I was honored to attend the Fittest of the Sierra’s tournament at the South Tahoe CrossFit center with the American River CrossFit team this past weekend. While I’m sure I could have annihilated the competition should I have joined the festivities (I kid, I kid), I was there solely in an observatory capacity. (Maybe I can be a water girl?)
As a former athlete I have to admit that I have missed the meet-environment and Saturday brought back a lot of memories. The collective energy, the anticipation, the excitement simmering under the surface, and yes, I even missed the smell of chalk.
This competition was an absolute blast to witness. The workouts were intense and merciless, but the atmosphere was enthusiastic and positive, with teams supporting one another and genuinely having a great time. There was a DJ, plenty of dancing (I’m talking to you Trevor) and tons of food. Not to mention some stunning displays of athleticism and sheer determination that left me gaping. One of the highlights for me was watching the women’s snatch (how to do a snatch lift) when the entire gym full of people screamed and shouted encouragements as one competitor struggled from a stance on both of her knees, finally pushing herself up to her feet to complete the lift. The crowd went wild.
Unfortunately the stress of CrossFit competitions can be very hard on the body and mind, as evidenced below:
I’d like to thank the South Tahoe CrossFit organization for hosting an amazing competition and the American River CrossFit team for letting me tag along on their adventure. Congratulations to all of the competitors, you all did an amazing job!