September: Kirk Larson
How long have you been doing Crossfit and what got you started?
3 years. I enrolled my son in a karate class that was right next to the old facility. I had an hour to kill waiting for him to finish his class, and I would watch the workouts. At first I was a pretty intimidated, but I saw several “regular” people doing it. I was about 50 pounds heavier than I am now, and needed to do something. The group workouts and having a coach (and others in the class) help push me and really clicked with me. I was hooked.
How has Crossfit benefited you most?
Before Crossfit my knee bothered me a lot. I would try to play ball with the kids in the back yard and would not be able to play long without limping and being in a lot of pain. I have three young children (4, 7, and 9) and wasn’t able to keep up with them. My knee still bothers me sometimes, but is much better than before I got active and lost the weight. I think it is awesome that when I am playing with the kids in the back yard, they can’t catch me even with the help of several neighbor kids.
What types of issues have you had with your knees?
In 2001 I got talked into playing some “light tackle” football in the wrestling room at my nephew’s high school on Thanksgiving day. About 30 minutes into the game I ended up tearing the ACL in my right knee. I had surgery on the knee, but throughout the physical therapy I was unable to completely straighten my leg. A couple of years later I had a second surgery to try to improve the mobility of my knee, but there wasn’t really much improvement. For many years I just dealt with frequent pain of the knee, limping around, etc.
How do you take care of your knees now, inside and outside the gym?
I think the it is key that I have strengthened the muscles around my knee and that I stay active. When I started Crossfit a friend thought I was kind of nuts since I had knee problems. He warned that Crossfit hurries through movements too much and that I could get injured because of bad form. However, I have found this to be the opposite of my experience at CRCF. When I started, the coaches modified the workouts for me, watched my form, and helped me gradually improve. Before just about every workout we go over the correct form for the movements being used. That is much better than trying to figure stuff out on my own or watching random YouTube videos.
Do you remember your first CrossFit milestone?
An air squat (that’s right… no weight). When I started crossfit I could barely do a squat at all because of my knee issues. I remember thinking I was getting better until Justin put a med ball underneath me and informed me I was about 6” above it. It took a lot of coaching for me to make gradual improvement, but over time I was able to finally do a real squat… and who doesn’t love squats?!
What motivates you?
Keeping up with my kids! I have three very active children and I want to be able to keep up with them.
What is your goal for 2014?
Kipping pullups and (frickin) double-unders.
What keeps you busy outside of work?
There might be a pattern here… Three young children (4,7,and 9).
What is your stress reliever/how do you like to relax?
Video games and a year-round play volleyball team.
Most embarrassing moment?
At my first job my teammates taped me to my office chair and rolled me on to the elevator. I rode up and down with several people that gave me really odd looks before someone took pity on me. You wouldn’t get away with something like that these days!
Best prank you have played on someone?
It was really someone elses idea, but I helped so I will take partial credit. There was a small dead fish found near the parking lot at my first job. We put it in a paper cup and hid it underneath my cube mates desk right next to the exhaust fan on his computer. The smell kept getting worse… at one point he was smelling his shoes and told me he kept getting whiffs of dog poop. After he found it, it made it’s way around the office to several cubicles before it got too ripe and had to be retired.
What is your comfort food?
Unfortunately … chocolate chip cookies
Favorite workout song/music?
Whatever DJ Matt plays. It is usually energetic and loud so it helps drown out the little voice in my head that is telling me to drop the weight.
August: Caitlin Slessor
How long have you been doing Crossfit? 3 years
How has Crossfit most benefited you?
Wow, that’s a tough one. There are several ways. It gives me much needed structure to my workouts. It’s made me stronger than I ever thought possible. It gives me a daily environment where I can really push myself in ways I never did when I ran or worked out on my own. I’ve found a hobby I love.
Do you remember your first ‘milestone’ or wow moment in Crossfit?
Definitely. My first unassisted pull-up! I still get super excited for other ladies at the gym when they get their first pull-up. I clearly remember dangling from the bar in disbelief that I would ever be able to pull myself up. Justin kept claiming it would come and he was right.
What motivates you?
The knowledge that I always work five times harder when I’m in a group than when I’m on my own. Also, I love the constant pursuit of improvement – heavier lifts, faster times, and nailing the skill work.
What is your goal for 2014?
I want to keep doing pull-ups without a band through my pregnancy.
When are you due?
I’m due to have a little boy on September 28th.
Did you do Crossfit with your previous two pregnancies? If not, how this pregnancy has been different?I had never heard of Crossfit during my first, but I learned about it during my second. I was excited to do it after my second baby, but there wasn’t a Crossfit gym in Cedar Rapids that I knew of until he was about a year old. I joined as soon as I found out about it. I did do a fair amount of weight-lifting and HIIT style exercising during my second pregnancy so I knew firsthand the benefits of staying active. My first pregnancy was full of the typical pregnancy complaints – back pain, insomnia, swelling, stuff like that. During my second and now third pregnancies, I’ve had nothing like that, despite being 10 years older. I attribute it to weight-lifting and keeping active. There’s also a lot to be said for diet during pregnancy but that’s probably for a whole different newsletter. Crossfit is especially good at boosting mood and energy. The people, the music, the intensity: It all can help me forget I am pregnant for an hour when I’m feeling sluggish. I’ve felt great during this pregnancy in large part due to Crossfit, but I suspect that other strength training modes of exercise would provide the same benefit.
Did you consult with your doctor, and if so, what were his/her thoughts? She was pretty low key about it. She wanted to know if I was doing it before I became pregnant and she advised me to stay off my back once I got bigger. I’m not sure she knows exactly what Crossfit is, honestly, but she’s definitely supportive of weight-lifting and exercise generally. Her main advice (and the most valuable) is to pay attention to how I’m feeling. This is not the time to “push through the pain.” I think doctors are far less worried about a patient who is a regular exerciser than one who is sedentary during pregnancy. She seemed pleased that working out was such a big part of my life.
Have you had to handle criticism from anyone about doing Crossfit while being pregnant? Everyone’s been pretty cool about it, actually. I think there has been enough media coverage of the benefits of exercise during pregnancy that no one says anything out loud, at least.
How is Crossfit different for you now, how have you changed or modified your workouts? The main difference is in my reduced cardio capacity. RX weights don’t feel any harder but I need to take lots of breathing breaks. Sprinting sucks and I can’t do some obvious things like hollow rocks or ab mat sit ups anymore, but for the most part I’ve been surprised by how little I’ve had to modify. Recently I’ve noticed that my recovery time is getting longer. I had a week where I went to 5 classes and I needed to go to bed early and take naps the whole weekend. I think the from here on out, I’ll stick to 3-4 times/week.
Any moves you simply just don’t do right now? Oh, I simply can’t do a handstand pushup. I can’t even picture how that would work. Also, pistol squats require a lot of torso compression and that just ain’t happening anymore.
What has been your biggest challenge? Honestly, finishing last in class. I just can’t do things very fast right now.
What have been your favorite workouts or movements while pregnant? Anything with a kettlebell; they maneuver around your body well and I don’t have to worry about bar placement. They are the ultimate pregnant girl workout tool.
Have you ever considered stopping Crossfit during your pregnancy? Heck no! I already can’t drink wine for nine months or go waterskiing this summer. I don’t want to stop doing everything fun.
Will you continue to work out for as long as you can? Definitely. The Crossfit cliché is so true- it’s the most scalable workout scheme ever. Even if I come on my due date and just do the warm-up and the mobility, I don’t imagine that I’ll just stop coming in. Actually, I’m sure some squats and lunges will help move things along toward the end!
What keeps you busy outside of work? Lots of things! I have two kids and a husband whom I love spending time with, as well as five sisters and some of the best friends a girl could ever have. I never say no to any physical activity. I’ve done triathlons and adventure races and I love snowboarding, camping, and hiking. I love to read, so I read lots and lots of books. Oh, and I love cooking and eating.
What is your stress reliever? Crossfit, definitely Crossfit, especially of the heavy lifting variety. Super heavy cleans have got to be the most badass way to get over a crappy day.
What is your comfort food? Popcorn, in a bowl approximately the size of my 7 months pregnant belly.
Favorite workout song/music? They play music during workouts? I’m too focused on where to find the chalk bucket.