January 2011 Archives

Crossfit First Impression

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Back in the day, I would spend every summer in Ocean City, NJ.

I was very lucky to have great parents who could afford a summer rental at the shore. Each summer, I would play at the basketball courts at 34th street, in pick up games. I wasn't some super star talent, but the games were fun, and I remember at the start of each summer how my lungs would burn after just one game, and i'd be gasping from running up and down the court. I'd get home and have blisters on my big toe, and my legs would be sore from the game.

Weeks would pass and my legs would get stronger, my endurance would grow, I could run multiple games in a row without a major problem. By the end of the summer, I was definitely in real good shape for basketball, and fall would come, i'd be back at school...and it would repeat the next summer.

When I went to Villanova I enrolled in NROTC. Both my brother in laws were Naval Academy graduates, and this motivated me to join the military. My first six weeks of college weren't about partying every night, but getting to bed early to be at PT by 5:45am - Monday through Friday. It was brutal stuff. Pushups, situps, jumping jacks, and pullups. Running until you are about to drop and finding that last burst of energy.

Why do I mention this now, when i'm supposed to be writing about Crossfit Hoboken?

Well, I was thinking of both of these things when I was gasping for air last Saturday. When the instructor towered over me saying "Lift up the medicine ball...higher. Higher. HIGHER!" When an extremely cute brunette girl was watching me do situps and motivating me with "Come on! Push! Do 1 more...1 more..." When I was done, and feeling like a weakling and would have a complete stranger pat me on the back and say "Good job, man".

At one point of time I wondered what the hell I was thinking by doing this. It was almost too difficult for me, I hadn't worked out in months - and even back at my days at Club H, most of my "lifting" was at a pretty easy pace. I would lift, rest two minutes, lift, rest two minutes...and just work out building up muscle but not a ton of endurance.

Crossfit is definitely different. It's hard, but good. What the trainers did with our group of about 30 people was divide us into six teams of five people. Then we had teams pair off until we had three groups (two teams to a group). We then had a competition where we had to do the following:

Row for 250 meters - Teammate #1
Box jump - Teammate #2
Shoulder Press - Teammate #3
Sit up Press - Teammate #4
Rest - Teammate #5

We had 8 minutes. The goal was to get the most number of reps in 8 minutes on whatever station you were on, and would ROTATE to the next station when the rower reached 250 meters. So the rower would go to the box jump, the box jump would go to the shoulder press, the sit up would rest and the guy resting would row for 250 meters. Rotate. Repeat. Rotate. Repeat. After 8 minutes, the second team would start and we would rest, counting their score up and tallying what they did.

Then when they were done - we did it again.

Lets just say for someone like me, it was a quick slap in the face for how out of shape I really was. Plus, you had people watching me barely able to do 10 situps (especially in the case of the cute brunette, only added to the humiliation) - but there was a key difference.

In many ways it reminds me of those days playing basketball at Ocean City and NROTC at Villanova. I can't sit here and tell you I was enjoying myself necessarily at the workout - I was really looking forward to it being over. But what did make it a bit more enjoyable was the camaraderie by the trainers and the other participants.

Working out at Club H over the years one of my biggest complaints were about the staff and the people who went there. Everyone had an attitude at Club H. My friends and I would laugh about it, but it's true - the trainers walk around like they own the place and wouldn't say a word to you unless you were in their way. Never a friendly smile. Always the "I'm the quarterback" smug look on their faces. Same was true with nearly everyone who worked out there. Nasty people, with a nasty attitude. I always, always, always asked permission and said "Please" and "Thank you" and never heard that in return except from the people working the front desk or the juice bar.

I think Crossfit brings to the table something different, fundamentally different, not only in the way they train people, but also about motivating people. This isn't the Marine Staff Sergeant yelling "YOU ARE A WORM! YOU ARE WEAK! YOU ARE WORTHLESS!" - but more of a team oriented group that definitely made a good impression on my first visit.

Much like everything else I write about on here, I think it would be disingenuous for me to write up a glowing review on one visit. But as first impressions go - score one for Crossfit Hoboken.

I plan to sign up for the fundamentals class. You can't just join Crossfit and go right into the classes, you first have to learn their calisthenics, and build up the energy and muscle over 8 classes, which are spread over a month long course. I'll take that course and write more on that later. But if you are interested in this, I would suggest trying out the free beginners class every Saturday at 10am. Crossfit Hoboken is located at 38 Jackson Street, you can't miss the entrance it has a nice blue banner over the doorway and it's located on the 2nd floor.

I wrote a few years ago a list of things people should get for a rainy day. With all the recent snowstorms and cold weather, I thought of the things I enjoyed wearing on a cold, snowy day which have made a big difference in my walk to work. Enjoy!

1. Boots, real boots. Far to often I see people walking in the slush and snow in sneakers. You got to be kidding me. Man up and buy actual boots. What I did was buy hiking boots, from Asolo. I'd get the Moran GTX. They are made in Romania. You think they know snow? You bet they do. These are like winter tires for your feet. I plow past the other slowpokes on the sidewalks who are walking in the tamped down snow. Plus, if you get hiking boots you can use them - to go hiking or camping, so you can get year round use out of them. I'm going hiking/camping in a few weeks.

2. One wool sweater. I have one wool sweater I bought from J. Crew about 6 years ago. It's thick, but not too heavy. Fits me really well and doesn't itch one bit. I put this sweater on, and I can be outside all day long in cold weather. Wool is where it's at. It was good enough for our copper-age brothers, and still perfect even today. This sweater I have is so warm that I have literally had to unbutton my coat sometimes because I would get so hot, but wool breathes so well - that I don't sweat, unlike cotton.

3. Fingerless gloves. My one friend laughed called them "Hobo gloves", but they are simply awesome. One would think "Why buy it - my fingertips will be cold!" That's not true. I don't know why, 20110121.jpgbut I guess the fact that 90% of your hands are covered just doesn't make my fingertips cold at all. Plus, having my fingertips exposed, I can easily use my iPhone, whereas with gloves, i'd have to take my gloves off and then put them back on. Also with gloves you lose your sense of touch, so when I reach into my pocket and pull out my keys, wallet or metrocard - its a trillion times easier. Definitely my #1 purchase I made this winter, and I bought it on gap.com. I got the green colored ones and not the red ones - to match my next topic...

4. Flip Your Lid - get a winter hat! I remember for years and years I would go to work in winter all bundled up, with my sweater, coat, scarf, gloves - and i'd never wear a hat because "I didn't want to mess up my hair". As I got older, and more annoyed by the cold - I have completely changed my view here. Hair be damned! Plus, my "style" is messed up hair anyhow, so the hat actually helps. Personally, I recommend you buy your favorite football, hockey or baseball team hat and wear it with pride. I sport a Philadelphia Eagles winter hat or a Philadelphia Flyers winter hat (I haven't found one besides the basic black that I like yet).

5. Winter is the best time for port wine... I have long written about how much I love port wine, and it really is a cold weather kind of love I have for it. If you haven't had port wine, I can honestly say you are missing out and I feel sorry for people like you. But then again, just means more port wine for me. The other day I was at Hoboken Vine. Really an underrated store that more people in Hoboken should know about. I was going to pick up my Taylor Fladgate port, when I saw they had another 10 year old tawny rated at 92 by Wine Spectator, I think it was Cockburn's, but I have to double check. Suffice to say, I loved it. Hoboken Vine has all sorts of helpful people working there, and worth checking out their other wines, too.

Time For A Change?

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For the last few years I was a member at Club H gym. I originally started going to a gym because of a friend who talked me into it, and once I started to go, I liked the changes I saw in my body. I started to eat right, take vitamins and worry about calories. Yes, I did see steroid meat heads at Club H, but I wouldn't say I became like this guy...

But after a while, I got into a bit of a rut. I had a routine at the gym. I was good at it, I would see early gains, and then plateau. I would hit a limit to what I could lift and get frustrated. I didn't want to hire a trainer, and I tried various ways to get around my plateau, like taking two weeks off from lifting or switching from heavy weights / low reps to light weights / high reps. They kind of worked, but often I just fell back into my routine, which was, well, easier.

While working out i'd always be "10 pounds away from my target weight". I was in relative good shape, at least I thought I was, but not quite where I thought I should be. My goal wasn't (and still isn't) six pack abs, but just not losing my breath when I run up a flight of stairs & having my jeans fit well.

The last few years I blame the Phillies for messing up my routine. With their playoff run to the World Series, it would mess up my routine and often i'd start skipping gym visits in November & December. Then, like most people, I would "get serious" in January.

This year is no different than other years. My weight would creep up, and my strength would wane. A few months back I quit Club H, hoping to use my condo gym instead to save some extra money. The condo gym was good. But something was missing. Maybe it was motivation after a few years of lifting, but I found myself going home from work and just losing motivation to go down to the condo gym. The couch looked so much more appealing or Rocco would look at me with his "sad eyes" and I had to take the little guy for a walk. Or a million other excuses.

A few years back some guys from my Eagles Club would tell me about this little gym they had in town. It was called "Crossfit Hoboken" and they told me it wasn't like other gyms. Instead of focusing on power lifting or aerobics they have a Workout of the Day (WoD) which is a mix of plyometrics and strength training. The focus on good form, but also on timing themselves to increase their intensity. Everyone I spoke to who was in the gym didn't just 'like it' - they spoke about it with a lot of enthusiasm.

You see the other people at the gym. They are on the elliptical, reading "US Weekly" and going through the motions. Each week, they don't get any fitter, and barely seem to be breaking a sweat. In a way, I was the same guy. I lifted, but I didn't really push myself. Some people are naturals at this, and they can do it themselves. Other people cheat and take steroids. I'm not a natural motivator - I need someone to push me, and I won't ever take steroids - that's for losers.

So I take the first class on Saturday with Crossfit. It's a free beginners class. If I like it, I may sign up. I will write about how I like it next week and try to keep updating here about my experience with it.

The Boken Online wrote about a great deal for $20 steak at Elysian the other day. I kind of raised my eyebrows after reading it because i'd rather just make my own steak for half that at home and usually takes me 20 minutes.

Of course, this is for most of us living in the city who don't have a grill in the backyard.

It's easily one of my most common dishes that I make for dinner. It's easy to make, if you have the right tools and ingredients. First, get a cast iron pan.

Not stainless. Not non-stick. Cast iron. If you don't own one, here's your excuse to buy one.

Next, get a good steak. Filet or Strip Steak are the only real choices. If you live in Hoboken, I suggest going to Garden of Eden on 2nd and Washington. I, myself, get a nice 10 ounce filet mignon with a 1" cut, which is $19.99 a pound, so it costs me maybe $1.25 an ounce, or $12.

I'll throw in some Golden Yukon potatoes for mashed potatoes, and some asparagus or broccoli, for sides.

Once home, here's the process as taught to me by Alton Brown:

It comes out great every time. I know - you are a skilled chef and can't believe I wrote such a no brainer post. But you would be surprised how many people don't know how to make this. Enjoy!

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This page is an archive of entries from January 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

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