Jumping On A Box Not Just For Kids

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In a few months I will turn 62, which means I will be eligible to draw Social Security. I have no idea how that happened so quickly — time is whooshing by at warp speed. I don’t plan to begin receiving a monthly check then, since it would be greatly reduced. Barring unforeseen financial reversals, I plan to wait until I can receive the full take — at 66 years, two months. And, of course, if I croak I will not be receiving a check, but my Beautiful Mystery Companion will until she turns 65. I find all this faintly ridiculous.

I take note of this age milestone because a few days ago I achieved the highest vertical leap of my lifetime by jumping up on a 25-inch foam box — several times in a row. This was during a CrossFit Citadel class where we often do such crazy things such as jumping on a box, pushing 190-pound sleds outside in 90-degree heat, back-squatting, rowing 1,000 meters, jumping ropes and other madness. I have worked out three or four times a week for more than 18 months. I am pushed physically harder than ever in my life, and I love it.

About that vertical leap. It is not particularly impressive. But I am a short, old white guy who never could jump very high. So 25 inches has taken me to new heights, as others in the gym are easily transcending three feet.

About the foam box. Everyone else in the class jumps on plywood boxes. An athlete who misses landing on the top of the box ends up with barked shins. At my age, despite my enthusiasm for CrossFit, I practice risk avoidance. It takes forever to heal at this juncture on life’s winding journey. So I bought a foam box and donated it to the gym about a year ago. When one misses jumping on a foam box it just means a two-foot fall to a rubber mat. I can survive that —and have — since I did miss once several months ago. Pride was the only injury. As one of the oldest folks in the gym, I don’t have much pride to injure.

Speaking of jumping, for the first time in three-score-and-deuce years, I can jump rope. I have never been able to jump rope, from childhood forward, not that I tried much after the age of ten. When I first started, Jon, the gym’s founder, pronounced me the worst jump-roper in gym history. He was being kind, as always. I might have been the worst jump-roper in American history. I could not successfully complete more than two single-unders, as they’re called.

Now, on a good day, I’ll go 100 reps without missing, and I on occasion can pull off a double-under, where the cable whistles twice under my feet while they’re in the air. That is rare, but it’s my next goal. Who would have thought I would be working on jumping rope at this age? Certainly not me.

This all can sound silly to an outsider, and certainly it is not for everyone. Thought, honestly, it can be. The gym to which I belong has kind coaches who know how to accommodate all ages, shapes, skills and infirmities. They are well trained and welcoming. I have never been much of a joiner, beyond what was required for my profession, but this is a tribe to which I enjoy belonging. Every workout is an adventure, a communal excursion into pushing oneself to the limits — without needlessly risking injury. Without these coaches, there is no way I would push this hard.

Like enthusiastic golfers — and I was one in a previous life — CrossFitters tend to talk a lot about this passion. One of my favorite images is of the late Gene Wilder dressed as Willie Wonka. The caption “Oh, you do CrossFit? I had no idea… Said nobody ever.” Another: “My hardest workout is trying not to look bored while you tell me about your workout.”

I have learned to limit my conversations about it to fellow athletes — or people I have not already bored by talking about it. So that eliminates most everyone I know. Now that I have written this, I won’t devote another column to it, promise.

Unless I manage to jump 30 inches or string together a dozen straight double-unders. Then all bets are off.

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1 Comment

  • Aaron Blakeley


    Man 25 inches is great! I have only managed 20 so far and it scares the crap out of me.

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