I haven't been this nervous to walk into a Crossfit gym since my very first time six years ago.

Actually, to get technical about it, I never entered the gym itself when I went for my workout yesterday. All of the equipment was set up outside in the normally crowded parking lot. Instead of cars, rowing machines were spaced 10 feet apart across the pavement in the lot.

There were about seven to 10 bottles of Clorox and Lysol type sprays to clean and wipe down any equipment before and after use.

The whiteboard was outside with the Workout of the Day posted. I could sense disgust in the infamous Crossfit clock; it looked down on me with disdain as I walked toward the group of athletes ready to work out. If I've learned one thing in the six years I've been going to Crossfit Dartmouth, it's that you can't fool the clock. Eating too many carbs? You might be able to fool the other people in the gym, but the clock knows. Ending each night with a bowl of ice cream before bed? The clock knows, and it'll rat you out every time.

Since Fun 107 went into quarantine mode on March 13, I haven't picked up much of anything except for a spoon and fork to my mouth. Although closed for regular workouts, Crossfit Dartmouth was offering multiple daily Zoom workouts. I remember the first day everyone signed in to test out the system. It worked well, we chatted for a few minutes and agreed to meet back on video the following morning. That was the last time I connected with anyone from Crossfit in person or on a video call.

You would think with all of the free time that quarantine was supposed to bring, I'd use the extra time to do bonus workouts. You'd think that, but nope. I didn't attend one. Not one single workout.

Instead, I chose to eat a wide variety of chips, cookies, soda, ice cream, pasta, you name it. If it was bad for you, that was my diet.

I was bummed about how out of shape I am, but I knew that if I didn't go it was never going to get easier to go back – only harder. I wondered if this is how my Crossfit "career" would come to an end. Would COVID-19 be the thing that took me down? Would it be the thing that made me decide that I really was too old to work out with these beast athletes?

That's why I was so nervous walking up to my first Crossfit WOD in three months yesterday.

One of the gym's owners, Jason Caldas, was the coach. He's a coach that always demands your best. This wasn't a good start for me. But Caldas knew his audience. He joked with us as we warmed up, asking each of us how we've been eating and how much we have (or haven't) been working out. The warm-up was very slow-paced and had a definite back-to-basics vibe, which I appreciated. When it was time to start the WOD, he warned us to not come out flying and "redline." His point was that he didn't want us doing too much if we have been stagnant for three months. I was happy to oblige. Even if I do 70 percent of what I usually do, that's 70 percent better than sitting on the couch, I reasoned.

The workout opened with a 1000-meter row, which I did slowly and deliberately. Jason usually shouts out "First one off the rower never finishes first" during a rowing workout. He didn't shout his signature line, though. Luckily, there was no danger of that for me on this day. Off the rower, I "ran" 800 meters. It was more of a slight jog. In fact, it was more like a slight jog with five-pound ankle weights on each foot.

Back to the gym parking lot, and 50 lunges (should have been box jumps, but tough to do in the sloped lot). Then, 25 slam balls. I used a heavier slam ball than I should have, and I felt it in a big way as I finished the workout.

My time was 14:53.


Didn't fool the clock.

But better than sitting on the couch.

Michael Rock's First Crossfit Workout Since Quaratine

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