Two unassuming, inspiring CrossFitters

Bill, who has had 18 personal training sessions so far, is a great example of the hardworking, can-do attitude that allows beginners to get fitter with CrossFit rather than being intimidated by it. Bill started coming to CrossFit Seattle twice a week because he wanted to try kettlebells. Naturally I used CrossFit training methods, with kettlebells as the tool.

Bill saw all the other equipment in the gym and was perfectly willing to go full-on CrossFit when I eventually suggested it. For him, this doesn't mean 400 meter runs and handstand push-ups. He is about 60, knows he has some weight to lose and that this is tied to diet, but is as hard a worker as anybody and his improved movement skills show the results of his workouts.

One day this week, Bill did about five 45-second rowing intervals with 30 seconds of rest between them. On a few of the intervals I asked him to go slow and focus only on being patient on the knee bend in the recovery phase. Then he did a lot of sets of 10 box squats, without and with a kettlebell.

We tried using a lower box next, because his box squats are so much more solid than they used to be. The lower box threw everything out of whack at first because although Bill now has the flexibility to get down there safely, it was hard to get up from that low position. With balance assistance, he practiced this lower squat by sitting down on the box and then standing up using his heels and not pushing his knees forward. His technique is decent at the higher box squats, and this paid off on the lower box as well. We did a lot of other exercises (push-ups with the hands elevated; sit-ups) and had him return to the low box squat every so often. Each attempt improved.

Bill has never once said he can't do something I asked him to do. We modify the exercises to make them do-able though difficult, and he just does them. I see his movement improving and his work capacity and perseverance improving as well, and I'm so impressed with his hard work. The finisher to his workout today was 10 sets of 10 light kettlebell swings. This was hard, but he would not have quit had I suggested it. Now he can say he's done 100 kettlebell swings.

If Bill would plug into the Zone diet or some version of it, I think he would see more dramatically visible results, but that's up to him; the exercise is still good and this shows in his skill and stamina. Anyone who thinks maybe they can't do CrossFit could take inspiration from Bill.

Another inspiration is June, who comes to the workout classes at CrossFit Seattle. She had her four introductory personal training sessions with me, and this week (about four weeks later) I ran into her in a workout class of Scott's. June is middle aged and came in to get back in shape after cancer treatment. From the start, her movement skills and ability to make corrections were good on most exercises, but her stamina was pretty much gone. No problem--take breaks when needed. Today, she said to me, "I'm just loving these classes. I feel like I've been working really hard, and it's so much fun."

In Scott's class on Monday, the workout that June did was an abridged version of the recent CrossFit Championship workout. She modified a few of the drills as needed, such as doing squat-thrusts instead of burpees, and using a light barbell for the push-presses. This was smart, and Scott encouraged these modifications. June did the tire drag portion also--twice! (Once was enough for me.) I'm impressed with her and she sets a great example for anyone who's considering starting CrossFitting but is having doubts.