Crochet and Crossfit

The past week has seen a couple of victories in the life of this cavegirl. It may not come as a huge shock to some, but I have not always treated my body with the utmost respect it deserves, either regarding the nourishment (junk vaguely resembling food) it has received or the exercise which it has (not) endured. While it may, once upon a time, have been naturally predisposed to physical exertion and relished the testing of its muscles and bones against the forces of the world, the decades of modern living have taken their toll and my body is currently woefully unprepared to flee from any lurking Smilodons or to have a good go at surviving a zombie apocalypse. Given the recent release of the latest Walking Dead series (is it season 65 or thereabouts?)  and subsequent related Facebook statuses, this is increasingly of concern to me.

But first, in the event of the zombie apocalypse/sabre-toothed cat based drama, a good grasp of crochet skills and the ability to fashion functional items of clothing from balls of yarn is surely almost as necessary. To that end, I decided to crochet a hat for the smallest cave-baby and, after mere hours of research (Pinterest-ing), I found one I liked and set to work. Firstly to buy the yarn. This in itself required additional research as the pattern I found is in a new language – American crochet. This is not the same as English crochet, because that would make things too easy. As well as the yarn being measured in entirely different ways, the stitches are also called different things. The same terms are used, but unhelpfully, they relate to different things. For example, a US single crochet  stitch is a UK double crochet, while a US double crochet is a UK treble crochet. Confused?  A tad. So, “worsted weight” yarn in hand, I began to muddle my way through the pattern. I thought things were going rather well and that my UK-US translation skills were working perfectly, until I realised that the hat looked more like the pointy headgear befitting a Chinese rice farmer than a cute beanie designed to keep the head of the cave-baby warm and cosy. A quick count revealed I’d added a couple of extra stitches somewhere and had 108 instead of 55. Somewhat disheartened, I unravelled my conical creation and tried again. This time, things progressed quickly, with me showing counting skills worthy of at least a 6 year old. By about half way through the pattern, however, I noticed that the size of the emerging hat didn’t seem to quite match the size of the actual head for which it was intended. A quick consultation with my mum and the lovely people in the shop down the road suggested that ignoring the hook size prescribed by the pattern creator was not a good idea. Apparently it does actually make a difference. Armed with a new, larger hook, I once again unravelled the cursed hat and tried again! Third time a charm appeared to be true and I was presently forcing the new hat upon the cave-baby. She mainly likes to pull it off and throw it down the stairs, but it fits! Spurred on by my success, I quickly whipped up a pair of matching mittens, only ever so slightly too small (because my counting skills regressed and I did about half as many rows as I should have) and felt very proud of myself. Phew! Crochet mastered (a hat and mittens constitutes mastery, naturalement), on to the Crossfit!

Crossfit is a phenomenon I’d heard of some time ago, when venturing into Paleo territory. I heard a few people talking about it, thought it looked a bit scary and moved swiftly on. However, it remained in the back of my mind for a while, as other thoughts regarding health and fitness ebbed and flowed. Then, having moved into a new cave in Norfolk, the cave-husband announced that there was a Crossfit gym (or box) near to us and that he thought he might give it a go. For the past couple of weeks, he’s come home sweaty and smelly, bruised and aching. Twice, the cave-babies and I went to watch him do things that looked thoroughly unenjoyable and frankly foolhardy. Yet, at some point, something went horribly wrong and a terrible decision was made. I too, signed up for Crossfit; for a bloody year of Crossfit, no less. Two days ago I had my foundation session. As I walked into the box, feeling self-conscious and fraudulent in my “workout clothes”, Vibram five-fingers and hijab, I questioned my sanity and wondered what I was thinking. I felt a bit sick. I was actually shaking a little. The coaches are fabulous – super fit, friendly and supportive. They know what they’re talking about and encouraged me throughout the two hours of “intro to Crossfit”. However, they are still there to inflict pain and suffering with their utterings of burpees, wall-balls, deadlifts and box jumps and are therefore to be viewed with caution.

During the two hours, it was confirmed – I have no upper body strength. Nothing. Nada. Nichts. How my arms manage to function with the total exclusion of any muscle, is beyond me. I am a medical marvel. Anything involving the missing muscles, results in me making facial expressions which convey effort, without making any discernible physical movement from the neck down: push ups and pull-ups and any variations thereof render me paralysed with fear and general lack of ability. I also cannot do burpees without it looking like I’m an trying to enact a sealion with a broken flipper, floundering on a beach and sobbing quietly. I can skip, but only 7 times in a row. Once. Then, it becomes three times in a row. I also discovered that I have a crippling fear of boxes, particularly when asked to jump onto them. This is somewhat understandable because the boxes are high and hard. However, the fear also transfers to jumping onto weights, a couple of inches high. I am more comfortable with lifting the weights and don’t feel the same sense of dejection upon hearing words like deadlift, snatch or front squats as I do when hearing the word gymnastics (which also conjures up images of unitards and bendiness beyond what is humanly possible). Despite all of the above, I survived and have booked in for my first actual crossfit class. It starts in an hour. I feel sick and a bit shaky again. I’m also thrilled that alongside the deadlifts, tonight’s workout includes burpees and push-ups. Fantastic. The only way is up, right!?

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Update – I survived the first workout. Changing gear in the car on the way home suddenly seemed a lot harder with my newly jellified arms and I’m hoping that the cave-babies will require no lifting for the next day or two, but there was no actual death. I did make things slightly harder for myself by being a muppet and doing my set of 50 box push ups (or approximations of box push ups, to be more accurate about things) before the timer had started and then doing them all again with everyone else. Burpees still suck, especially the bit where you get to lie down on the floor but then have to get up again instead of having a nap…

Workout stats – 50kg 10MR deadlift; 50 BPU in 4.14 and 50 burpees in 6.46.

I also managed 22 skips on the rope, 3x my previous PB and other progress included putting the clips the right way round on the barbell. I’m nailing this stuff! 😉

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