A Beginner's Journey to Class at CFSL – Part 5: The Beginning of the End

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Session 5

We’ve now learnt enough to start recapping basics and adding to them. This session revisited the push press, and highlighted to me that I needed to keep up the mobility in order to make things easier for myself.  My tight underarms were causing all sorts of mischief.

We then progressed to the tall jerk and split jerk, and for a few moments the hour seemed to have turned into a bit of a flamenco class as we stamped about getting our feet in the right position.  It’s a completely different feeling to need to move both feet at the same time with considerable weight on the upper body.  Ozzie keenly observed our feet placements each time in order to point out ways to improve, making sure we were safe throughout as this could be a perilous move done without due care and attention.

Finally, we smashed out our workout, which incorporated elements of these new moves into the 21-15-9 split of sets.  This appealed to me as I was always able to reassure myself that the next time I came to a set of a certain move, I would be doing it fewer times – my lazy side wins!

Session 6

Two new factors were in play to influence the success of our sixth session.  I had just returned from a week-long skiing holiday, so my legs were slightly in pieces, and I had now left my gym, so was itching to make the most out of the session as my only form of exercise. We got to train in the actual main box as no classes were on, so it felt like graduating to the big boys’ league.

The focus of the session was the snatch. As a complex and technical move, we spent a lot of our hour breaking each component move down and trying to perfect it using only the dowel.  Ozzie’s explanations were clear and concise, but my struggle came when trying to piece together the movements of the legs and the arms into one compound explosion of power. It was like choreography and I was again humbled by my innate lack of ability, struggling to generate the lift from the right body parts.

We then proceeded to a brutal work out which utterly defeated me. We combined our new snatch move with overhead squats and kettlebell swings. As the time ran out, my body seemed unable to respond to the messages my brain was sending it, and my reps slowed gradually to a crashing halt.  Recognising my frustration, Ozzie was on hand with words of encouragement and put things into context for me.  The good news is that I later encountered my first serious bout of DOMS following a session, so at least I managed to do some good damage!

Session 7

The sessions seem to be flying by now, propelling us on our way to our goal. We got cracking straightaway with some stretches and rowing to prep our bodies for what was to come.  We went over our squats, taking time to coax tighter muscles in the legs to loosen up to improve the movement.  We alternated in pull up work, with Emma perfecting her kipping swings with steely determination, and Ozzie setting me to a muscle up on the rings, which is now the highlight of my life so far, and perhaps one of the first amazing feelings of achievement I hope Crossfit will give me.

Having seen our planned workout written out, I willed time to slow down in order to delay its start.  There were thirty reps of six different moves to smash through, but all I could focus on were the thirty medicine ball throws at the end.  My old nemesis was back.  I don’t know what it is, but my brain and body will not cooperate to get me through any more than about three good reps in a row. Ozzie was shouting at me to catch the ball, but my arms just would not come up to do so.  I also managed to wedge the ball in the pull up bars several times, so it’s the throwing as well as the catching that needs some work.

I limped in with a rather ropey time and genuinely could barely speak for a couple of minutes, such was the exhaustion.  But I was utterly chuffed I had got through everything and wanted to do it again, but sadly our time was up.  By the end of the same day, the DOMS had crept in all sorts of new places, so I am hobbling about with pride at my new achievements.

Session 8

As the end of our ten movement sessions draws ever closer, I have started to scrutinise all the new starter pics on the Facebook page all the more closely.  What is this mystical number they hold in front of them?  Why do they all look so sweaty and pleased at the same time?  Now that getting into the real classes might become a reality, I’m wondering if we’re ready to break out of the secure environment of Cell Block H.

This session’s focus was very technical with another complex move to learn about, tackle and attempt to master.  The hang clean at first seemed to involve shunting a barbell from somewhere around the knees to just on top of the shoulders.  The beauty lies in using the power of the legs to shift the weight, rather than straining about the place with arms and shoulders.  Given the shoulder placement, my tight underarms came into play again, but on the whole, if I concentrated like crazy, I could just about handle the choreography of the move.

Our workout then involved fifteen reps of our new move, interspersed with bouts of rowing, which I don’t think anyone enjoyed, least of all those watching on while our rowing got slower and slower and my face got redder and redder…

Session 9

After eight sessions of learning individual moves, the ninth session went a long way to putting some of these together.  We began with some rowing sprints while I made sure everyone was aware of me being in the dying throes of manful. Fact: you can’t look cool administering asthma medication with an inhaler.  We then smashed a quick workout using some of the moves that would be coming up in session ten, including my personal nemesis: wall balls, and Emma’s new nemesis: box jumps, especially after she shin-planted the box on the first one.

Undeterred, we began looking at the bear complex.  This involves moving the barbell all around the body by starting with a deadlift to a hang clean to a front squat, then push pressing the bar onto the back for a back squat, before another push press back to the front and putting the bar down again.  After each cycle we rested before adding more weight and trying again, all under Ozzie’s close scrutiny to make sure any kinks were ironed out.

Before having time to congratulate ourselves, we were quite literally thrust into the workout.  Following the 21-15-9 sets of reps, the aim was to pound out the right number of thrusters and then pull ups as quickly as humanly possible.  My cold and flu tablets seemed to wear off halfway through, with a quick start gradually decelerating until I was running on empty.  Emma later commented I did not look well during the thrusters and I have to confess to losing vision at points, but I just about made it to the end.  It wasn’t so much tiring as filled with moves I don’t seem to be able to do a lot of in a row; cue more humility in the face of Crossfit frustration.

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