Monday, October 27, 2008

Functional fitness testimonial

The following is a short testimonial I asked our friend Joe to write. He's got a story much like mine...a gradual change from an existing workout program into a system that is truly results-driven.  It's a similar story repeated by most anyone who now subscribes to this "old school" approach.  Here's his story:

I have been asked to write a short testimonial about why I altered my daily workouts and taken on a more functional approach. I should start from the beginning. Since eighth grade I had been doing just the traditional weightlifting. Participating in sports like football and wrestling, there was always a major concentration on just two things: lifting and cardio. We would run in practice and lift in the offseason. I continued to do that in college (minus the cardio) and continued to focus on power lifting. I did very well at it and was putting up some impressive numbers for someone who weighed just over 200lbs. 

I was still was never happy with my appearance though and when I played organized sports, I would fatigue very quickly. Even though I had a lot of muscles I was still packing on a few extra pounds from not doing any cardio. I had convinced myself I was in great shape because I was in the gym 5-6 days a week. I continued to do this same routine after college for a few more years.

It wasn’t until the last 2 years that I really started to make a few changes. I started to run a lot more and ride a bike. I entered my first endurance race, a duathlon, and got my butt kicked. I said to myself that I would need to alter my workouts a lot in order to compete in races like this. I started to run a lot more and concentrate strictly on endurance/cardio. I ended up dropping down at least 20lbs, to my lowest weight since high school. I felt good because I could run far distances but my physical strength decreased significantly. I then cut back on the running and would try the traditional weightlifting at least three days a week. I continued the same routine and do the same traditional breakups of the body parts every week. Needless to say this got very old and boring very quickly. I would also lift very heavy, leaving my body extremely sore every day. 

Then about a year ago I got an email from a guy at work telling me that I should check out the website He related that it changed his fitness level and he was in the best shape of his life. I remember going to the website and looking at the main page for a few minutes and thinking to myself “what the heck is this?” It might as well been in a completely different language. I was reading terms like “Fran,” “power-clean,” and “kettle bell swing.” I had no idea what the website was talking about. I just closed out of the website and thought that I would go back to my normal easy lifting. That was something comfortable to me. I didn’t go back to the Crossfit Site for a few more months. I continued on with my normal routine but did not see the results I wanted. 

I decided to give it another shot and started to just “cherry pick” a CF workout each week and work it into my weekly workouts. Once I started this, I started to add more and more CF “functional” workouts into my weekly routine and stop doing the traditional monotonous specific body part workouts. The workouts started to become a little bit easier. They still make me throw up, but it is contagious. I constantly find myself trying to challenge myself with different workouts. I’m pulling different workouts from sites like CrossFit,, and Gym Jones. I no longer get bored from doing the same workouts week after week. I might repeat a workout now only once every couple of months, just to see how much I have improved. I enjoy the everyday competition in trying to post better times or completing more rounds than others my age. 

I have also noticed changes in my body composition. Since doing more endurance races over the summer and concentrating strictly on a Functional Fitness program, I have since actually gained about 10lbs. The weight I gained is all lean muscle. There have also been vast improvements in my cardio ability. I feel I’m faster and I can run for a longer period of time. Another advantage is that I’m no longer always sore and tired from working out. My body always feels great and I can accomplish anything. I see workouts that ask for 100+ pull ups, 200 + pushups, and 300 air squats, and I don’t even think twice about it because I know I can do it. 

Functional Fitness training has reshaped my outlook on what being “healthy” actually means. It is a way to get a great workout in without spending hours in the gym and it keeps the workouts fresh by constantly changing. My favorite workout would have to be either “Murph” or the “Filthy Fifty” because they are the most challenging. I say this now but I probably wouldn’t say that right after the WO. My goals have gone from benching 375lbs to getting a sub-5-minute “Fran” time. My ultimate goal is to qualify for the CF Games next July in California. So that is what I’m currently working towards. 

So in closing thoughts, I definitely recommend this style of workout for anyone that is sick and tired of doing the same WO’s week after week without seeing any real results.  I’m still a newbie to this whole program but I’m constantly trying to learn more and more to better my fitness level.

As Joe said, one of his goals is to qualify for the annual CrossFit Games, an Olympics-of-sorts containing random physical tasks stressing strength, speed, power, coordination, and stamina. It's been a treat watching Joe's transition in the gym (I'm usually walking out as he's walking in) and at the pool.  Thanks Joe for sharing your experiences.

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