"Beyond the Barbell – Jason Weisstein"
We have another ‘Beyond the Barbell’ blog coming at you for the month of November. We are featuring a former member of our #DCFStrong community who is not only a great athlete but happens to be a fantastic orthopedic surgeon. Jason recently relocated out-of-state however was willing to contribute his CrossFit experience with our online community. His advice to anyone starting their CrossFit journey is to “maintain a long-term focus.” A huge THANK YOU to Jason for taking the time to put this together. You are forever part of the DCFStrong community!!!
To read our November feature click HERE.
For over a year, I would drive by Desert CrossFit (DCF), slightly intimidated by the exterior as well as rumors about what CrossFit might entail. I knew that I needed a new way to work out. As a physician, I knew I sought big challenges. I had worked out in a traditional gym for several decades where the routine had become boring and recipe-like. Finally, in January 2015, I decided to join Desert CrossFit in an effort to prepare me for Spartan obstacle course races. DCF had ropes, giant tires, bars, etc. – most of the elements needed to prepare for a mud run.
My first week at DCF was an ‘introduction’ to CrossFit with Coach Cheryl as the main instructor. I was immediately impressed by how well she connected with the participants as well as how determined she was to make sure our technique was spot on. She was direct and in my face, but not in a military sergeant-type way. I felt like an inflexible old man during some of the routines, however, I was constantly encouraged to fight on. After graduating from the introductory classes, I started going to the 5;30 AM group classes. I couldn’t climb a rope, jump a rope, or do a string of pull-ups with any grace or agility. Despite my “newness” to CrossFit, I found a group of individuals who were supportive and motivated even during the wee hours of the morning. What I liked most was that all exercises could be modified to your particular ability level. There was also a distinct atmosphere about the box. In a traditional gym you are usually alone doing your routine. CrossFit thrust me into a group with a timer. This immediately fostered some minor competition and hurried me to get through the work-out in a set amount of time, rather than taking my time as I usually did in a traditional gym setting.
Since my initial exposure to Desert CrossFit, I have incorporated a CrossFit routine into my weekly life three to five times per week. Speaking as a father, husband, and doctor, there are few athletic opportunities in life at my age where there remains the challenge to achieve perfection. This is something I believe all people desire and seek. While I might be climbing ropes and doing pull ups with ease now, it is the finer details of the barbell lifting routines and double jump rope routines that continue to challenge me. I am in the best shape of my life and feel that I have more energy than I did in my 30’s. The road was not easy and there are no gimmicks at CrossFit. You get out of it what you put in. My hands are calloused, shins a bit scraped, and I have suffered a few minor musculoskeletal injuries along the way. The basic things I found difficult in the beginning are now fairly easy; that said, the work-outs are always challenging and always varied. I would say that humbling is a pretty good word to describe the WOD’s (work-outs of the day). This is part of the excitement of CrossFit. Now, my focus is on perfecting difficult techniques likes snatches and cleans (Olympic weight lifting techniques).
My advice to beginners is to maintain a long-term focus. You can’t walk into a CrossFit gym and expect to master everything. It is just not possible. You will always be challenged – to an extreme at times. Having been to many “boxes” around the country I can say (as a practicing orthopedic surgeon) with absolute certainty that Desert CrossFit is a one of a kind place. Too often people are injured during CrossFit because they go to a box with inexperienced instructors who are aloof or have minimal experience. At Desert CrossFit, the instructors are personable, interested, and most importantly, care about bringing out the best in each participant, young or old, male or female, athletic or nonathletic. You will not be allowed to do more advanced techniques until you master the simple ones. This is certainly not the philosophy of other boxes I have visited where it is more of a free for all atmosphere – one that I know leads to injuries. This is part of the bad rap CrossFit gets in certain circles. So for those of you who are tentative, curious, or otherwise wondering about CrossFit, my suggestion is to give Desert CrossFit a look. I know you will accomplish more in 10-20 minutes of working out than you did in one hour or two hours before. You WILL get into the best shape of your life.