Holidays and birthdays have special significance at CrossFit WV (and also maybe at other CrossFit boxes).
Through the week of St. Patrick’s Day, every single scheduled workout was like a fortune cookie. You didn’t know what you were going to get until you showed up.
At the beginning of the hour, the instructor and trainer would pull a slip of paper out of a jar and then write the workout up on the white board in front of the gym.
“I have people who won’t show up this week,” Caroline Price told me.
Usually, the gym is pretty good about posting workouts the night before. As a practical thing, this is helpful if you’re injured or feeling sore in a particular area. If you hurt your knee in the last day or so, maybe you don’t want to do squats or lunges.
It’s also a good way to chicken out of working out, too.
Some of the named workouts, like the dreaded benchmark “Fran,” tend to send crossfitters running for the hills –or maybe the nearest frozen yogurt place.
I’m not one to judge.
People can get picky about the workouts and decide they’d rather not do handstand pushups or that it’s too cold to run.
For the longest time, I didn’t look at the daily workouts posted. While I get a lot out of going to CrossFit WV, it doesn’t take much for me to talk myself out of doing things I know I ought to do.
With only minimal encouragement, I can very easily decide that I’m too busy and need to go home to watch Netflix.
I’m trying to get better about that –and also use the CrossFit plans to help organize my other workouts.
I have a Spartan race in five months. An hour a day to train probably won’t cut it.
Some days, I also swim. Other days, I run. I also still workout with weights, though I’m trying to be careful not to over-tax specific muscle groups.
The week leading up to St. Patrick’s Day was chaotic and difficult. The workouts seemed tougher, but they all seem tough to me. I’m still jogging toward the back of the pack and fighting to improve my form.
The prize at the end of the week, however, was the special St. Patrick’s Day workout (held the day before the actual St. Patrick’s Day, on Saturday), which included the caveat “BYOB.”
In all the years I’ve worked out, I’ve never seen that posted at any gym I’ve worked out at.
How could I turn that down?
Of course, instructor Caroline Price pointed out that I didn’t have to come to that workout. CrossFit WV would also have a couple of normal, regularly scheduled workouts scheduled the same day.
Lots of people did that.
I didn’t. There was beer involved.
Saturday morning, I showed up with a sixer of Miller beer.
I wanted to make a good showing during the workout. I’m still new to the community and I worried that I might be judged on my preferences for beer, instead of the quality of my burpees, which are probably equally (or more) suspect.
I didn’t want to spend too much and bring locally sourced, boutique craft beer to the workout. That seemed pretentious (and pricy).
I also didn’t want to bring PBR, which, apparently, either announces you’re a hipster or that you hang out in bait shops.
So, I chose Miller, which was almost as cheap and what I buy after I spend an afternoon cutting grass.
As it happened, I really didn’t need to bring anything. Others provided a couple of cases of Michelob Ultra, a beer athletes drink when they want to pretend they’re being healthy.
It has a slightly lower alcohol by volume content. It’s easy on the stomach and has something like half the calories of regular beer, but tastes like the melted ice water in the bottom of Styrofoam cooler your dad kept in the garage.
I still drank it, of course. Free beer is free beer.
The beer I brought, by the way, ended up sitting on a bench at the gym for about four days until someone decided that it was worth taking home or one of the trainers tossed it in the trash.
Before the workout, we sort of warmed up and stretched and then divided into teams of about five people.
Not everyone planned to drink. Some were just there to be part of the experience and the community of goofy CrossFitters swilling beer on a Saturday morning while they did pushups.
The teetotalers were dispersed among the regular participants in attempt to keep it fair.
There were two halves to the workout.
First, we gathered up a collection of barbells, weights and kettle bells. Then, the teams moved the equipment from one end of the gym to the other in a cooperative race. The goal was to get across the room without anyone touching the floor.
To get to the far wall, we had to step on weighted plates and move the gear forward.
At the finish line, most of us chugged a beer.
Next, Caroline brought out a deck of cards and told us to grab boxes for box jumps and get plenty of beer for each team.
The suites of the cards corresponded to particular exercises –clubs were pull ups. With diamonds you did box jumps and so on.
Whatever the number on the car, that was how many reps of each exercise you were supposed to complete before flipping over the next card.
Face cards all represented some specific action outside of an official count –like running a lap around the building or taking a long drink of beer.
While four members of the team did whatever the cards indicated, one team member was supposed to sit out and sip their drink.
Each team raced to get to the bottom of the deck.
It was very silly and probably not the best workout I’d ever had, but it was a lot of fun and reminded me of some of the better shenanigans I’d been part of in college.
While there was plenty of beer, nobody tried to power drink themselves into a black out. Only a few people had much more than a lite beer or two and nobody seemed drunk.
After it was over, most of us lingered at the gym for a bit and drank some water before moving on with the rest of our day.
I had a great time. I kind of felt like a viking or something.