‘Starr’struck at SFCF!

Many months ago, when there was no real plan in place, and Sandeep and I were still just talking about going on this trip, coach Arvind Ashok told me that I should definitely visit San Francisco CrossFit and that it was the kind of the gym that I would love to train at. I took him very seriously, and told Sandeep that we HAVE to go, and last week, we did.

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It was incredibly coincidental that the first CrossFit Open workout was announced the same week that we were there, and obviously, I HAD to do it for the fun of it.

The workout didn’t sound too intimidating, especially because I had the option of doing the scaled version. This was important for me personally because I suck at doing the kip, and 15 toes to bar over multiple rounds wasn’t particularly encouraging. I ended up doing a partly scaled version, so my workout ended up looking like this:

AMRAP in 9 minutes:

  • 15 knees to elbows
  • 10 deadlifts with 75 pounds
  • 5 snatches with 65 pounds
    (Yes, I used 2 bars)

Followed by:

1 rep max clean and jerk (Time cap – 6 minutes)

But despite the modifications to the original workout, I had no confidence going into it for two reasons. Firstly, it was a new atmosphere with new people and I’m easily intimidated. More importantly and relevant to this situation, I am quite inexperienced with most moves in the workout except the deadlift and maybe the (push) jerk.

I was in wave two of the group doing it with me, so this meant folks who completed the workout first provided various tips – definitely do a “full clean” and remember to switch grip on the deadlifts were the two that came about the most. I didn’t do either – I did hang cleans and ended up using the hook grip on my deadlifts. Like for everyone else, the deadlifts felt like active recovery between the other two moves, and the snatches were what trumped me the most.

I ended up with a total of 6 rounds and a little more and in 15.1a, I managed to clean close to bodyweight (105 pounds), but failed on the jerk. I successfully cleaned and jerked 95 pounds.

Lessons learnt from doing the workout:

  • CrossFit is crazy. I absolutely love it.
  • Technique trumps brute strength
  • I need to wear pants or some sort of shin guards when I deadlift.

To be honest, I learnt a lot more earlier that week when I had the opportunity to take coach Diane Fu‘s Strength and Conditioning class twice. The first workout was fairly straightforward. Seven rounds of 3 hang snatch singles, each from 3 different positions – the hips, above the knees and from the floor. This was to be followed by 3 sets of 10 reps of (2-inch) deficit snatch grip deadlifts.

We were doing the 7 sets of 3 singles so that we could understand how to and get better at being able to maintain consistent positions throughout the movement. This especially helped me because one of the biggest things I’ve been struggling with is ‘jumping’ when the bar crosses the hips on all my lifts, and I have the tendency to jump too soon on most. She also coached us to always look straight ahead at the horizon at an ‘immovable’ object because most of us had the glaring tendency of looking down because “we were thinking about what we wanted to do” with the lift. On the deficit deadlifts, the idea was for us to load our legs for longer than on a regular deadlift.

The second workout we did was 3 front squats followed by a jerk (going into it from the 3rd squat). When we got to a point when we were unable to take the load overhead, we worked up to a heavy set of triples. Immediately after each set, we did 5 box jumps and the goal was to jump as ‘vertically’ as we could. The idea here was to see if we were able to effectively and efficiently generate power after our heavy set of squats.

What was interesting about both workouts for me was how she had programmed it in such a way that she challenged performance and our ability to maintain technique when fatigued.

One of the highlights was definitely us getting generously coached by K-Star. He fixed both mine and Sandeep’s front rack positions. He picked on our compensations and physically moulded us into where he wanted our wrist and elbows to be. Initially, I was quite annoyed at how alien this new rack position felt, but as I did a few sets, I realised that all he had done is reinforce my shoulders to be in an externally rotated position and I ended up feeling a whole lot more stable.

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We were initially to do an assessment, spend a whole lot of time and money on introductory sessions since we’ve never done CrossFit before and all that jazz before we could take part in any of the classes. But K-Star took one look at me and waived all that stuff. He did make me a fair deal – I’d have to buy everyone at the gym beers if I ended up moving terribly, and I’d be immediately kicked out of class.

I guess I lost my only potential chance at getting a drink with K-Star.

-Prashanti

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