From Dough Boy to Fit-Dad

With every turn of the calendar, we hope the new year would be better than the last. 2018 is no different.

Staring into 2018, I had to face certain facts. The hardest one was the fact that I was overweight and had been for the past 15 years. I had more than a dad-bod! I could give the Pillsbury Dough Boy a run for his money.

Anyway…

Since I am turning 41 this year and don’t want to die of a heart attack in the next five years, I decided to do something a bit more substantial. That something would be CrossFit. Below is a rundown of my first month at the “Box”. Now seeing as CrossFit is filled with acronyms like EMOM and AMRAP, I will from now on just refer to it as CF!

There is a Box close to home. Although I have never seen it open, curiosity got the better of me.

I Googled 360 Vida, found the contact info and fired a mail off to William. Great, first step done. I have seen enough CF videos on Facebook to know that it is not Virgin Active. A quick email conversation later, and I am set for the introduction class. The first introduction class was on 11 January 2018.

I arrived at the box, introduced myself to William who then introduced some of the noobs to the other coaches. I am not fond of people and new places - let’s be clear about that. However, the people here are friendly! On the first week in, I met so many people… sorry guys if I can’t remember all your names. I am getting there. Anyway, the people are Kool-Aid friendly! It’s like I just walked into a LSD-fuelled happy place. Completely out of my comfort zone and a bit anxious, I reckon I can manage.

So… we start!

Clint took all the noobs for the evening’s intro class and explained some concepts about what CF is and how it will affect you and your body. ‘Cool’, I think. I can do this. It’s only squats, push-ups and sit-ups. Yeah right! My heart pounded like a rhino stampede in my ears. I lost all feeling in my extremities. After all the squats, sit-ups and push ups I had to go home. Sitting in the car with my legs trembling on the pedals the thought crossed my mind; should I Uber or call an ambulance?

I got home and collapsed on the tile floor. At that moment I would’ve taken anything to cool down my Satan’s armpit body temperature. After some time, my body started to return to ‘normal’. I helped to get the kids in bed and the time spent reading them a story was just enough for every muscle in my body to conspire against me! 

I fell into bed. Sleep was difficult, because everything hurt. At some point during the night, I had to penguin shuffle down the passage to the kitchen. The longest walk in my life! By 4 o’clock I passed out, dead to the world and too exhausted to care. Blissful sleep until the alarm went off at 05:30. I rolled out of bed… no seriously, I rolled out, waddled to the kitchen for coffee and tea to wake the house. I was sore in places I didn’t even know I had places! If I could bend down, I would have cried in a foetal position in the shower corner.

It took me four days to recover. Let that sink in… FOUR DAYS!

The next session wasn’t any better. We ran… a lot! Om en om, and again! And again! The last time I had to ran this much was when I was still in high school. And it was on my last lap around the building where one of the older CF’s ran with me. I think he should have been finished already, but as encouragement he did another lap. By this time my brain stopped functioning from oxygen deprivation. Recovery time was a bit better, still slow and painful but at least one day less.

Fast forward to today, to reflect on what I have learnt and experienced so far.

Everyone is as inviting as the first day I stepped into the box. People talk to each other; the older CF’s will walk up to a newbie and introduce themselves. Everyone will talk to each other and show encouragement. William was right, this is a community.

During a session you will become oblivious to everything going on around you! When you start out, as soon as you push your body most probably the furthest it has ever been, your brain shuts down. You don’t focus on anyone around you. You are focused on counting reps. And you will suck at basic math trying to add all the reps together.

My breathing is much better. For illustrative purposes; in school when you had to pick teams in PE or some physical exercise there was always a group of kids that were picked last because everyone dreaded having them in their team. Well, I was always in the last five to be picked. Partly because I have shitty ball skills and had severe asthma. The asthma is more controlled now than it was then. But it always remains a concern.

Back to CF. The first two weeks were the hardest. Halfway through the session, I had to stop for some pharmaceutical aid. My inhalers have dosage counters, so I have a comparison based on number of inhalations. I have used it almost three times as much in the first two weeks than what I do now.

If you think you can’t go any further, do two more. Then breathe. You will be amazed as to how far you can push yourself. It does get easier. Nah, who am I kidding? It doesn’t get easier! Because as soon as you get better at it, you try and do more/heavier.

I despise running! The sessions with running are my worst. I don’t have the stamina (yet) to do the 500m around the building. It has a knock-on effect to everything else for the rest of the session. I can, however, do far more squats then when I started. Ankle mobility is also better, as I can keep my feet on the ground without my heels lifting. The biggest difference is in my spine! No more hunched over like a sack of potatoes. Even waking up in the morning, I can immediately sit up with a straight back.

So, in conclusion. Would I recommend CrossFit? Yes. 

It will make you stronger and fitter, yet humble you in the process. I am having loads of fun. But most importantly, my 2009 Telly-Tubby-self will never return. 

Jaco de Villiers

@TheMotleyProject