Friday, December 18, 2009

CrossFit Community Week - Primal Fitness

Wednesday morning I set off only about 2 miles form my gyms location, to the corner of New York Ave and M in NW DC to check out Primal Fitness.  As I approached the old fire station, I couldn't help but get the feeling that I was about to enter into some other world.  And that is pretty much exactly how it went down.

Primal is an old firehouse, and what you see from the outside, is pretty much the same as what you see on the inside.  It's run-down, cold, smells of mold, sweat, chalk and metal and seems to have this constant buzz of activity going on at all times.  You enter in a side door to a spacious room filled with workout equipment.  Ropes, bars, plates, boxes, rocks, racks and so mush more, all around.  Walk through that room and you hit an opening with a couch, bathroom, small kitchen and a separate Oly lifting room.  Then up the stairs to their offices, storage room, bed area and then a huge, open, very well lit room that, when I got there, there were still a few guys sleeping on mattresses around the floor.  It was like an old, European hostel or something of the sort.  That upstairs room was being transformed to a Parkour center, with bars, pipes, boxes and ledges all over the place to run and jump around.

I talked with Mark Toorock, the owner for a while up in that room as some of the visiting Parkour guys woke up.  He spoke about the community of this place and how it has grown so much over the years.  While CrossFit brings in the majority of people through the doors, Parkour is really the attention-getter there.  They have the leading Parkour website in the world and seems to me as though this rugged, work-ready space is the American Parkour HQ.  I can't wait to get back there when that upstairs space is done, it will look a little like a Ninja Warrior set up, so cool.  Before I headed back downstairs for my workout, Mark made sure I got a bar muscle up on the thick bar that was built up there.  Luckily it only took three tries...

Back downstairs I met Jesse Woody briefly (my contact for this whole adventure, and head coach) and Quint Fischer, the guy taking me through my workout (he was one of the coaches at the Balance CrossFit challenge last weekend).  We chatted for a few minutes as I warmed up and Quint set up the workout.

This place makes you want to move.  There are so many things to do there, and the combo of walking off the DC streets and entering into such an environment sparks something in your primal being to just start running around, climbing things, throwing things and just playing.  They really did pick perfect name for what this place is all about.  Painted on the wall is a great picture of some natives crouched with spears in hand, curiously looking at a collection of shopping carts.  Everything about Primal motivates people to remember that beneath their suits, cars, condos and fancy foods, they are all human, skin, muscles, bones, that's it.  And when you are reminded of this, something clicks, you work harder, move faster, lift more, smile greater and feel more satisfied post-workout.

The workout Quint gave me was this:  "Strong Man Gone Bad".  For those of you who know CrossFit, "Fight Gone Bad" is a pretty popular workout, consisting of five exercises performed for one minute each, followed by a one minute rest, repeated three times.  You score it by adding your total reps when all is done.  It is so exhausting.  This took it to a new level.  He had four exercises, and I had to perform them in the same manner as "Fight Gone Bad", one minute of work of each, one minute rest, three times through.

Farmers walk (75# DB's, 15-20 meters, up and back = 1 rep)
Up and overs (shoulder a 50# sandbag, throw it over a 47" box, hurdle the box and repeat.  Over and back = 1 rep)
Stone clean and jerk (literally, a large rock, about 40-50#, the damn thing kept bouncing away!)
Tire pull (with 50# added and I thick rope, about 10 meters, up and back = 1 rep)

I finished 52 total reps at the end of the workout.  I have no idea if that's good or not, but it doesn't really matter, I just went all out and kept going for the entire minute.  It was easily one of the top five toughest workouts I've ever done.  The stone/rock was by far the hardest part.  The thing would hit the ground and just scatter.  I had to jump out of the way so it would not crush my feet, had to chase it down, find a decent grip on it, it was crazy hard.  Now here's a little insight into my mind: I hate collapsing after a workout.  The only times I will do it is if I really am honestly struggling or if I cramp up.  I've never really through that I needed to do this (there's been a couple times, but that's it) and perhaps this means I just haven't pushed myself hard enough, not quite sure.  But this one, I couldn't hold myself up.  I gave every ounce of energy into that last pull of the tire, you can see on the video, I just nothing left.  It felt so great to just push myself like that, and I know it was the perfect combo of the workout, people, and gym.  When the idea is to workout hard, the second you walk into a space, and everything there is promoting that idea, well, you'll probably work damn hard.

I WILL be back, for workouts, to try my hand in Parkour (thanks to the couple guys upstairs who showed me some awesome Parkour videos and let me know a litle about their adventures as they travel around!).  I had such a blast there and really, really reccomend it to anyone looking for a true pick-me-up.

Primal Fitness
219 M Street NW

Washington, DC 20001

Next, a make-shift workout with a few CrossFitters at a chain gym!

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage


Salil said...

Hell yeah :-D

Q said...

Hey Josh,

It was great having you come by Primal and crush that workout. Thanks for the awesome write-up, too. I'm sure I'll see you soon...