Back in the Box

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I started back in a CrossFit gym a few weeks ago. My recovery from shoulder surgery is essentially complete, though I can tell you if it is about to rain. That shoulder starts aching. And my surgeon absolutely forbids me from lifting any weight overhead. As a friend of similar vintage who has battled shoulder injuries finally concluded, “Why would I ever need to lift 100 pounds over my head?” Agreed. There are plenty of other workouts still available that get my heart rate up, leave me short-winded and sweaty, and get those endorphins kicking in.

My coach, Alex, just opened his stand-alone CrossFit gym, moving out of his garage where I took private lessons once a week until the shoulder surgery last May. I am proud of him for taking this path, going out on his own, and plan to support him by showing up at least twice weekly as his official most-senior citizen – at least for now. I have been doing CrossFit going on nine years now. During the pandemic, I bought a rower, some weights and kettlebells, a set of ring rows and a box for doing step ups. I was forcibly retired from jumping on the box by my chiropractor after tearing a hamstring. But I can still step up 20 inches, albeit it slowly and carefully.

The point to all this working out, which is accompanied by 3-mile walks several times a week, is to keep moving as age 69 approaches. If you can step up on a 20-inch box, you have no problem climbing a flight of stairs, or getting over a barbed-wire fence. Being able to deadlift close to 200 pounds translates into being able to handle a 50-pound sack of fish food. Jumping rope uninterrupted for 100 reps builds my wind so I can chase down Pancho the Donkey if, heaven forbid, he ever gets loose again.

Speaking of loose livestock, I was sitting in the front-porch rocker Easter evening, finishing up a mystery novel while listening to NPR. It was close to dusk. I looked across the road and

spied a half-dozen cows grazing near the pond in the one-road subdivision across from Three Geese Farm. I went back to reading for a minute, then stopped. Those cows are not supposed to be there, I realized. There is no fence between where they are grazing and the county road in front of our place, which gets a lot of traffic, most folks easily exceeding a posted speed limit of 40 mph. One cow in the road could spell disaster.

I called our county commissioner, who lives about a half mile down the road. He is always responsive and sent out someone to watch the cows until his “cowboys,” as he calls them, could show up with a trailer and corral the cattle. That is how he got Pancho back to us, when our donkey made his great escape last summer. Seeing those loose cattle reminded me that I do not need to get back in the cow business.

Getting back to CrossFit, I am fortunate to have a coach who knows my limitations well. Alex always scales down the workout to something I can handle. At my age and in my condition, injuries and all, I do not have any foolish pride left. I am satisfied with being able to do what I can do. Heck, I could not jump rope as a kid, so being able to do so at 68 is enough for me.

It is good to be back working out with other masochists. We encourage one another at each workout. CrossFit people come in all shapes and sizes, and ages as well. I plan to keep showing up at the gym as long as I am able.

There is one fringe benefit of having blown out my shoulder and having been forbidden from any move that strains or jars it. I am not able to do Burpees, the most hated move in CrossFit. I even have a doctor’s excuse.

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