You may be surprised to discover that while I’ve been completing all the programmed CrossFit workouts on schedule, I’ve not been doing any of them in the gym.  Why would I spend 40-60 minutes each day looking for ways to improvise WODs with found objects when I have the keys to a fully equipped, unoccupied gym?

There’s always an excuse not to train.  Often people who are “too busy” to make it to the gym lament “It’s easy for you to be dedicated to your training, you work in a gym all day” as if convenience alone is what makes my commitment possible.  On the flipside, we have dedicated athletes who fall into the RX mind trap: If the WOD isn’t done RX’d it doesn’t count.  So if they don’t have the right toys they just can’t train properly.

Coronavirus has offered an opportunity to dispel both of these erroneous notions.  Without gym access, you may struggle with motivation.  Without the convenience of the gym and the right equipment, routine will become more difficult to maintain.  Competitors may feel it’s all a waste if they can’t continue to hone their competition skills.

I believe in leading by example so I’ve chosen not to do it the convenient way.  Though I’ve continued to train daily, I haven’t trained in the gym since we closed last Tuesday.  If it’s inconvenient for you, it will be for me too.  And while my favourite part of CrossFit is technical lifts and technical gymnastics, I have not forgotten that CrossFit was never about technical skills but always about GPP (General Physical Preparedness).  And you don’t need expensive, brand-name toys or even a gym to develop GPP.  Any rock, log or yard will do.

Fitness is a state of mind.  Don’t let perfection be the enemy of progress.  In inconvenient times, mental grit, determination and resilience are built.  The Coronavirus gives us an opportunity to flex those grit muscles and prove our commitment to fitness is more than a relationship of convenience.

I guess I’ve always had a chip on my shoulder and something to prove but when you see my workout videos I think you will have to admit that the mud, dirt, scrapes, bruises, torn clothes and pratfalls are pretty entertaining.  In that spirit, here is my first WOD-Outside-the-Box adventure with HeeHee: Row & GHD Sit Ups

Finding a GHD substitute in nature was going to be a challenge but our last few days scouting the beaches for WOD locations gave me an idea.  We headed to Acadia beach and there I began hauling driftwood logs in an effort to build a makeshift GHD.  This turned out to take more time and effort than the WOD itself.  After several failed attempts and falling head first onto the rocks a couple – okay, perhaps a few – times, HeeHee lost all faith in my construction skills and insisted we walk along the beach in search of better options.  Right.  As if the perfect GHD set up was just sitting there waiting for us.  After about the 16th time, I finally relented.  Approximately two and a half minutes further along, we found the perfect, naturally occurring GHD set up with exactly room for two.

I wouldn’t hate her always being right about things quite so much if it wasn’t so often accompanied with a lecture about stubbornness and listening the first time.  Or something like that.  I guess I wasn’t listening so much the 17th time either.

I chose a tree branch for my Sumo Deadlift High Pulls to sub for the row.  Sunghee used my backpack.  The driftwood GHD was perfect providing all the dizziness and nausea you’ve come to expect from GHD sit ups with the added bonus of wood chips biting into your backside.

The WOD took far less time than we’d needed to find our set up which is probably Sunghee’s fault for letting me struggle so long with my failed efforts to build a makeshift GHD.  It was satisfying to be out in the fresh air and to hit all the right places with this workout.

500m Row
50 GHD Sit Ups
1000m Row
30 GHD Sit Ups
2000m Row
20 GHD Sit Ups

At-Home Options:

If you don’t have a rower, any cardio will do, run, cycle, ski.  The key is to replicate the time domain (2, 4 & 8 mins should be a rough average for the row).  For me this would equate to a 400m, 800m and 1 mile run.  But because I wanted to work the posterior chain as the row does, I elected to sub in Sumo Deadlift High Pulls which replicate rowing mechanics on a vertical instead of horizontal plane.  The idea is to go light enough that cardio, not muscular endurance should be the limiting factor.  You could use a backpack, a light kettlebell or a broomstick.  When I row, each stroke gets me about 10 metres so I did so 500m should be about 50 strokes.  So my SDHP sets were: 50, 100, 200.  And yes, the SDHP should be light enough to do 200 reps unbroken.

GHD Sit Ups:
Unless you enjoy falling head first onto rocks and getting splinters in your butt, I don’t recommend you copy my version of the WOD.  Instead, for advanced athletes you can sub V-Sit Ups for the GHD version and for newer athletes, regular sit ups will do.