How two CrossFit athletes took down a globo-gym's month-long challenge in less than two hours.
This article originally appeared in May, 2016. After being shared by CrossFit HQ's Twitter and Facebook accounts, it became the most popular article we have ever published, with over half a million hits.
When my girlfriend has to work on weekends, we can’t train together at our CrossFit gym – so while many couples are out eating dinner or going to movies or the bars – we meet up at Gold’s Gym down the road from her office.
Sometimes we have to modify the WOD based on equipment available to us, but their “Team Training Room” (Read: Knock-off CrossFit room) provides pretty much everything we need. The glassed in fishbowl room also provides us with a look out into the regular gym area – so we get to people watch.
CrossFit takes a lot of heat for its athletes allegedly using poor form. The people making these allegations clearly don’t open their eyes enough when in a Globo gym. From quarter-squats to behind-the-back shrugs or even curls in the Smith Machine – Gold’s has it all. Combine these folks with the CrossFit room and you get legit lulz – guys trying to do what they see in CrossFit videos – but using the worst form you can imagine – without a coach there to give any advice. So next time anyone says something about CrossFitters using shitty form, I’m gonna shoot a video at Gold’s so you can see, poor form is on display wherever you train - the difference is that in a CrossFit box, there are coaches there to correct it.
I’m not gonna say CrossFit is better than another form of exercising (or at least I'm not gonna say it here) – I’m just gonna say, when we go to Gold’s – the odds of us being the athletes using good form are pretty high. This leads me to our high-level trolling of Gold’s Team Training Challenge for the month of May.
As we were wrapping up our Saturday night workout, I noticed a sign on the wall, encouraging athletes to participate in the monthly challenge. 2500 kettlebell swings, completed over the course of 4 weeks. I jokingly said, “We could probably do that in one night!”
Then we started actually doing the math. If you did 20 a minute for 10 minutes, then 10 a minute every minute after that, you could complete, as a pair, 2500 swings in less than 2 hours. It was decided – I told my coach and a friend we were doing it. Coach said “I love it, awesome.” My so-called friend let us both know we couldn’t do it and that we would either quit or it would take 4 hours to complete it.
One problem: there was no room for error. The earliest we could get to the gym was just before 6pm and they close at 8pm. We would either succeed in our goal of 1:55 or we would get kicked out at closing time.
No time for warming up. We got there at 5:45 – the closest they had to men’s “RX” weight for a CrossFitter was 50lbs for me. She went with the standard 35lb for female athletes. I stopped in at the sporting goods store that afternoon so we would have nice bag of chalk as well (because, you know...CrossFit)
We began with 20 a minute for the first 6 minutes. We switched to 10 a minute at this point with the understanding that at least 4 more minutes during this long EMOM (Every Minute On the Minute) would have to be 20 reps. After 10 minutes of 10 a minute, we hit another 20. By the time we were 600 reps in, my hands were starting to rip in various places.
“Shit. This is gonna suck with ripped hands”
“I have tape in the car, just finish this minute and then go for it. I’ll do 20 a minute to make up for it.".
Off I went to the car to retrieve the tape. She pounded out two minutes of extra sets of 20 to make up for the lost time. In between minutes I would tape an additional finger as blood blisters and tears became part of the routine.
I finished a minute in the 1500 range and ran out to grab some water. She did the same but the fountain was broken, so she had to run to the other one – I threw up 20 reps so she wouldn’t have to do any when she got back.
We were using baby kettlebells lined up against the wall to show where we were in the countdown. 3 yellows and a red remained – 350 reps. 35 more minutes of hellish swinging. This is the point where if I hadn’t had a partner in there with me, I probably would have quit. My forearms were so pumped up with lactic acid, I looked like Popeye, my traps were so sore that at the top of every swing it was excruciating pain. No matter how much I broke the reps up each minute, I could not fully get my breath back. The last ten reps were the best feeling I think I may have ever encountered in a workout. Such a feeling of accomplishment. The longest marathon workout I’ve ever done. One motion, for so many reps, forces you to find places in your mind to go. You can’t focus on the overall reps, just the 10 you are doing. Get to that 10 and tackle the next round.
On the sign-up sheet, it had a sheet of graph paper where the Gold’s athletes could write how many swings they do each day. We logged our 1,250 a piece with the date and the time it took to complete it. Then we posted a 30 second time-lapse on Facebook and tagged Gold’s. It was a lot of pain and suffering to go through - but fuck, it made for a good story.
2500 KBS in one hour 55 minutes!
So next month, I'd encourage posting a challenge that a couple CrossFitters can’t complete while you’re watching a movie on a Sunday night. Bodybuilders, Powerlifters and CrossFitters all train with different goals in mind. One is not better than the other - but each has things they are better at. Work capacity is something we do better - saying that is easy - but we went out and did it.