This morning, my training turned upside down. Literally. The first exercise we had to attempt after the warmup was a handstand walk. Yup, you read that right – it was a fear-induced trip down memory lane.
Think back to your days as a dirt-covered, snot-smeared kid with a Spiderman costume and 6 o’clock supper curfew. Your days were filled with sunshine, playgrounds, Cops and Robbers (or Cowboys and Indians – just depended on your toy load-out) and a serious amount of Olympic-level gymnastics that you weren’t even aware of. You’d be doing army rolls to escape mud pies, climbing trees to do drop-down ambushes, wrestling to get the best BB gun and doing handstands and cartwheels to impress the ladies (if they weren’t irritating you at that time).
We took that incredible fitness and flexibility for granted. After watching Sharky and George on the telly (or Bionic Six, depending on your preference and age), you’d have lessons at school, play rounders in PE and after you’d done all your schoolwork and afternoon sport, you’d have a few hours playtime before showers, supper and a big glass of cold, crunchy Milo. It’s nothing like what we do today. We’re up early to miss the traffic, then hobbled over a desk for at least eight or nine hours before frantically squeezing in a hour on the treadmill or doing some weights training – all the while stuffing our faces with food that’s more fried than fresh. This is taking its toll – our bodies can’t do anything near what they’re capable of.
The good news that comes out of all this misty-eyed nostalgia is that we can learn all these body skills again. This morning I grunted and plodded my way through the handstand build-up exercises until I managed a 5 metre handstand walk. It may sound like nothing, but man it was good to overcome my fear of headbutting the floor, and then to walk with my hands. There is some kind of primal pleasure in walking upside down, especially when your own mind is trying to convince you that a hospital visit is imminent if you try it.
I was transported back to my childhood where we didn’t know what exercise was, we called all this kind of stuff something else – playtime.
The two biggest lessons I have learnt from CrossFit: fitness is not just about what your one rep max in squats is, it’s about becoming better at everything you do physically on a day-to-day basis. Secondly, the quickest way to get fit is to make sure you’re having fun in your training. Lose that fun, and it becomes exactly what you do for most of your day: work.
In terms of the CrossFit Open, the last two Saturday tests were hectic but, I have learnt huge amounts, and even more importantly, I have had a great time doing them. I’ve slipped down the African rankings so there’s no chance I’m going to make the Regionals, but I am going to give it horns so I hopefully move up a few spots. I’ve got my next one this Saturday, and it’s a ripper. 150 Wall balls, 90 double-unders and 30 muscle-ups – as many rounds as possible in 12 minutes. Check the video description here.
But the bottom line? Like kids, we need to make our training more like play time again. Just without the Spiderman costume.