Fran, Nancy & I – by Felix Chen

Crossfit Victoria BC - nancy finals

It’s been a love hate relationship these two ladies really.  They’ve mysteriously creeped into my life two months ago.   Fran, I’ve met that one fateful Friday night on October 16th, 2009, and Nancy on November 13th, 2009.  Both are quirky and very different personalities that you’ve come to get acquainted with and something that you come to grow to love with with time.  Although different, both have come to seduce me in a way that I never thought possible and leaves me coming back for more.

Gentle, they are not; they both share one commonality – it appears that their goal and purpose in life is to physically ravage those attracted to their sweet and non-intimidating appearance.

Totally unexpected for the first time, after every intimate encounter with Fran; my forearms are left burning and useless.  Her spell that she casts leaves me gasping for air like you would not believe.  The experience is akin to a fast whirlwind storm – intense, fierce, unbearably long while it is happening, and elusive almost as it if it never happened once it is over.

Nancy, depending on what part of the Nancy experience you like better… she draws out periods of intense ecstasy followed by some calmness.  Much like Fran, once you are finished with her, its quite literally, a breathtaking experience which you soon will not forget.  Her presence makes your legs weak that lingers on for days.

Of course, those who have ‘drank the koolaid’ (or who know me) realizes that my badly written creative writing alludes to the two classic Crossfit workouts.  Those two workouts don’t look like much.  I mean really, how hard is it on paper?  After all… Fran is **only** 21-15-9 reps of thrusters and pullups in succession with a 95 lbs weight (do 21 thrusters first, then 21 pullups, then 15 etc).  That’s the workout.  Looks simple and sweet.  Nancy is 400m run followed by 15 overhead squats (95 lbs) times 5 rounds.  A tad intimidating, but manageable.

The first time I did Fran, I almost threw up.  I completed it with 65 lbs, at 9 minutes and 40 seconds.  I showed my friend a week later (really wasn’t in much shape to show him) with 55 lbs and did it in 9:35.  Pretty much a decrease in performance for me.  I was really excited when one last workout before the holidays, the gym decided to do Fran again – which I believe is the third time Crossfit Zone officially has hosted that workout since they began.  Two months later and 6 days later, I did the same workout again in 7 minutes and 38 seconds.  A 1 minute and 52 second improvement in just over two months.  My power, strength, aerobic capacity increased that much in that time.  I did it Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger. 😉

Same deal with Nancy.  I wasn’t so sure when I entered the Nancy Challenge.  It was to see who was the most improved after two months.  You buy in with $30 and put yourself in the beginner, intermediate and advanced categories.  I’m pretty sure when I did it the first time, I wasn’t sure about it AT ALL.  It was my first time doing an overhead squat with some substantial weight.  I had to clean and push press the weight overhead every time I dropped that bar, which was very frequent.  The run killed me.

Two months later, I was unsure as ever.  I ate a lot of McDonalds, ate a lot over the holidays, drank a lot.  But my body was reasonably okay with eating clean for 7 days since the new years.  I was incredibly pleased to be able to snatch the weight to the overhead position, and I think I only dropped it once or twice during the entire workout.  My runs still sucked, something I really need to improve on.  I was rather surprised to see I was the most improved in the intermediate mens category with a 1 minute 45 second difference from my initial time of 18:30 vs 16:55.  Still it was nothing compared to fellow crossfitters who shaved off a huge 7 minutes in the beginner category, or even a person who shaved off 3 minutes+ in the advanced category.

I think I’m beginning to sound like a broken record when I say how awesome Crossfit is to all my non-crossfit friends.  I mean, how are you going to find those kind of improvements by working out three days a week, for roughly 12-20 minutes per workout, for 4 months?   I used to go to the gym and think I was really “working out” by spending 1.5 hours at the gym on the machines over sporadic periods.  Even during the time when I did p90x for 70ish days, which I thought was hard – I don’t think it was that huge of an improvement (it wasn’t really that measurable, just heavier weights), that was 6 days a week with 1.5 hours on average.

I was just thinking what kind of strict programming that you needed to do to at a regular gym, with the same frequency that I went (3 days a week), with the same amount of time spent on a workout (average 12-20 minutes) to get that kind of improvement.  How would I allocate my cardio days?  My chest days?  My back days?  My leg days?  My arm days?  My abs days?   I really don’t think you can.

I do think that Crossfit attracts a certain kind of person, perhaps the stereotype is somebody that is really intense.  But I think for anybody who hopes to being a more powerful, better looking, and fitter version of yourself, it’s enough to join and give it a go.  It’s hard at first, but stick with it, and the results are measurable and very real.  Growing, up, I never played sports, chubby and was always that kid that never got picked in PE classes.  Now it’s weird seeing the more athletic guys from high school get fat, and for friends telling me I’m ‘hardcore’.  It’s weird how addicting this stuff is.  Being a former gamer and a huge couch potato, I never would’ve thought there would come a time where I would miss exercising if I skip a day.

Two great quotes I read the other day

“And this last two or three or four repetitions…  that’s what makes the muscle then grow. And that divides one from a champion and one from not being a champion.  lf you can go through this pain barrier, you may get to be a champion.  lf you can’t go through, forget it. And that’s what most people lack, is having the guts. The guts to go in and just say, ”l’ll go through and l don’t care what happens.” lt aches, and if l fall down…. l have no fear of fainting in a gym…  because l know it could happen. l threw up many times while l was working out. But it doesn’t matter, because it’s all worth it.”

– Arnold Schwarzenegger

“Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever.”- Lance Armstrong

I’ve had friends over the new years say to lose weight and to gain weight.  Just do it.  I’m fairly convinced if somebody as average as myself managed to drag myself out of my comfort zone and discover something like crossfit, I’m sure anybody can reach their fitness goals too. A parting video…

~ Felix Chen

Today’s Wokout:

Buy In – Be warm BEFORE class time with your version of the CrossFit Warm-up

WOD – “Orange Coast Throwdown WOD 4”

This wod is from a crossfit competition that went down last week put on by orange county crossfit.  Visit the link for more info:  The athletes had to perform 4 wods in one day, this one is the final wod.  I have modified it slightly to suit our equipment restrictions.  Top male score was 586, top women’s was 406.

For total “reps”

10 minutes to max clean and jerk (record total lb lifted)


5 minutes Cindy (5 pullups, 10 pushups, 15 squats) for reps, male Rx is chest to bar pullups


5 minutes row for max calories

Add all three numbers together to get your total score

Zone 2- Clean and Jerk technique, work up to a 5 rep deadlift instead of max clean and jerk, modified pullups and/or pushups

Zone 1 – Clean and Jerk technique, use a lift you are comfortable with instead of clean and jerk, modified pullups and/or pushups

Cash Out- 4×20 double crunch (scale as needed)

Running WOD

Rest or recovery run (5K to 8K)

Please post in the comments when and where you are doing your run if you would like people to join you!

_ _ _ _

100 Day Burpee Challenge:

Burpees today: 49

Buy-in: 1225


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