Northwest Women’s Show

Saturday I had an interesting day at the Northwest Women’s Show. Dave and Nancy from the CrossFit North gym were there with their Olympia chiropractor friend Wendy, to help her promote her kettlebell classes that she gives on the side. Wendy gave a talk on a small stage to about 20 people. Another gym member and I helped out a little by demonstrating kettlebell exercises at Dave’s prompting. It was fun to feel confident enough to do that instead of too self-conscious or nervous. But it was also disheartening to look, with fitness and exercise in mind, at the people watching us or walking around the show. Most of the women looked completely unaccustomed to exercise and seemed to show in their faces that they couldn’t even imagine getting back in shape. They seemed to find us impossible to relate to–a lot of women glanced at the kettlebells in the booth or at the video and immediately looked away, and others said variations on “I can’t exercise.” One older woman wanted to hold the 24-kg kettlebell to see how heavy it was, and her daughter exclaimed, “Don’t pick that up! Your uterus will fall out!” Another woman saw Dave’s silly T-shirt slogan, “Get Fit or Die Trying,” which is from an in-joke at the gym, and told him “that’s exactly why I don’t exercise.”
I realized it is mutual–I almost can’t relate to people who avoid exercise and gain loads of weight. I caught myself wondering, what do they think about? If they can’t walk 100 feet without getting out of breath, and they’re not interested in learning how to exercise safely, then, have they just resigned themselves to an early death and are fine with that? Maybe this is a case of a problem seeming almost cruelly complicated–which it is–and it is easier to look the other way.
Nancy and I took some time to walk around and look at some of the other booths. A lot of them were promoting faddish stuff like supplements, unlikely weight-loss methods (“Ephedra is Back!”), and rhinestone jewelry. Others were about massage, chiropractors, life coaching, cooking, cleaning, remodeling, and enhancing your sex life. In other words, it was sort of like a shopping mall meets a travelling carnival, setting up for a few days, extracting a bunch of money from visitors, then folding up. I’m not clear on who the target demographic is or if it’s more of a vague plan including anything that the organizers think will attract these creatures called Women. I didn’t see anything that would be sold at REI–skis, snowboards, bikes, hiking boots. Based on what I saw, these Women creatures are obviously not active outdoorspeople. Curves for Women had a booth and a workout machine you could try. I hope they signed up three-quarters of the people who visited the show, because a lot of people need to save their own lives. And I hope Wendy the chiropractor signed up a few would-be kettlebellers.
Wendy’s web site is I can’t find my URL button to link it inside the text for some reason.

“Angie” Plus

Last night’s workout was “Angie”: 100 pull-ups, 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, 100 squats, for time. With my injured finger, I was assigned to substitute running a mile for the 100 pull-ups. I can grip well enough, but it’s when I let go and unfurl my fingers that my pinky hurts.
There had been a sudden downpour, and as I left for my run through the park, the sun was shining straight across from the west, under clouds, and there was a big rainbow over the lake. As I ran past an open area, I could see across the green grass of the park to the gray lake and clouds. The rainbow, double at the bottom, looked so vivid against the gray and green. Rainwater gushed down all the curb gutters next to me as I ran. It was so beautiful that I almost enjoyed the run, which I finished in 7:25. This was a little slower than my mile times last year, of 6:40 and 7:20 back to back. I probably hadn’t run a mile since then.
I think by the time I was done with the rest of the workout, my overall time was around 32:15. The push-ups took me forever. After about 30, I can only do them in threes or twos.

Three Workouts and an Injury

Last night we did a modified “Helen” workout.
Run 400m
21 kettlebell swings, 16 kg
12 pull-ups
Row 500m
21 dips
12 pull-ups
30 thrusters, 20 kg
30 push-ups
12 pull-ups
Time: 13:15
I think the fastest person finished in just over 9 minutes.
Friday night I did a different workout than other people because of my sprained little finger–I didn’t want to do any pulling. Instead I did 5 sets of 10 jerks (65 pounds) and 10 dips. Afterward, just for fun I practiced my high box-jumps. I stacked up about 30 inches of mats and jumped onto them from farther and farther away. Eventually I was taking a few steps of a running start, though I was jumping two-footed. The farthest away I managed to jump up there from was about 5 feet 7 inches. That’s 4 inches more than my height. I need to stack more mats next time and see how high I can jump.
Saturday morning I went down the hill to the lake and ran up twice. I keep forgetting to go back with the car or the scooter and measure the distance I ran. It was from the stop sign at the bottom to the start of the laurel-shrub wall on the parking strip near the top. My times were 4:35 and 5:08. I’d just had breakfast and the uphill runs did not feel good!
My sprained finger didn’t bother me last night in the modified Helen in spite of the pull-ups and rowing. The thing that seems to aggravate it is playing the guitar. I’ve been doing three-fingered scale/rhythm exercises to spare the pinky, but then I start trying to use it, and it really starts to hurt. It has been 10 days since I injured it and it’s bumming me out. I just started guitar lessons and it’s hard to accept this setback. I’m conflicted between being bummed at knowing I have to stay off of that finger, worried that it will never stop hurting, and refusing to stay off of it out of impatience.


Today was our third Hooverball tournament. I sprained my left pinkie, which is now painful and black-and-blue, and I can’t play the guitar much. Which stinks because my first guitar lesson is tomorrow night. Still, Hoooooverball is tons of fun–like volleyball, but played two-on-two by throwing and catching a six-pound medicine ball.
Tom and I lost our first match, won our second, and then I played one-on-one with another woman, Allison, who is in her 20s and a strong athlete. It was fun going just the two of us with other people watching, since I’ve never played a sport that anyone watched at all. I felt like it was my tiny moment in the limelight (with all of five people watching). And–I won! If there were a trophy for Hooverball it would be of someone getting smacked in the chest and their feet flying up in front of them. Six pounds doesn’t seem heavy at all until it’s flying through the air or down from way over the net.

Gotta Tabata

Last night we had a Tabata-style workout–20 seconds on, 10 seconds rest, for 8 rounds and a total of 4 minutes. We did this with four exercises: wall-ball sit-ups, rowing, push-press 45 pounds, and kettlebell deadlift/squats. This 16-minute workout was tiring. Erika and I were partners, doing the same thing at the same time and trying to keep up with each other. I was slower on the sit-ups and slightly faster on the rowing. During the push-press drills I started getting a cramp, so I had to slow down and concentrate on breathing. This has never happened to me in anything besides running before.
Our last exercise was with the kettlebells. The drill was kind of like doing air-squats except you were gripping a kettlebell as you went up and down in a sort of quick deadlift. We decided to use the 24-kg kettlebells instead of the 16s we started the first round with. Using a 24, I felt lightheaded when I put it down for the 10-second rest, and my lower back ached from fatigue during the last few 20-second rounds.
Scott started wearing us out first with a warm-up of alternating air-squats (up and down 10 times) and then resting in the squat position while the other group did their 10 up and down. We went through that several times and then did the same thing with push-ups, holding the down position while others did five push-ups, then doing five while they held the down position. We didn’t last long with the push-ups. It is so hard to hold the bottom position for that length of time more than once.
I did just a few handstands before we left. They are slowly getting more stable and it is more often that I can stay up for a few seconds without using the wall. I’ve been practicing my bad-side cartwheels a lot lately, trying to get really upright and keep my head neutral, and the handstands seem to be improving along with that. Another thing that is helping the handstands is that when I have the nerve I try a front limber, going all the way over backwards from the handstand into the backbend (though not very gracefully). I think being able to go all the way over without hurting myself helps me mentally to get into a really upright handstand. What I would like to be able to do is what high-divers do on the edge of the diving board–get into a stable handstand and hold it as long as desired. I love to watch that during the summer Olympics. The amount of nerve it would take to do a handstand all the way up there on the edge is hard to imagine, but it’s really cool to see that a person can have that degree of stability on their hands.


Last night Erika and I showed up at the gym and it was packed. I love it when it’s busy. Dave was working with 12 or more women from Team Survivor Northwest because they have two workout classes on Thursday nights. He had two deadlift bars set up and it was fun to see over a dozen women, most in their 40s, standing enthusiastically in line for their turn at a deadlift. There was music on and Scott was running at least one other workout group, so as I went upstairs to change I heard Dave having to talk really loud for his group to hear him–it felt like a real P.E. class with a gym teacher trying to keep everyone’s attention. Later he was demonstrating push-ups and talking about it, and the women were all around in a tight circle. I think they seem to realize he’s a good coach! I would have liked to inconspicuously take pictures of that group. It would make a great promotion-by-example for older women who think they want to try weightlifting and calisthenics but are intimidated.
Our workout with Scott started with a run of about a mile (I think) and 5 sets of 3 deadlifts up to 90 percent of max. I went up to 90 kg. Then the main workout was:
10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 reps of kettlebell snatch left arm, kettlebell snatch right arm, and pull-ups.
I used a 12-kg kettlebell instead of a 16 because lately I’ve felt slow, and I wanted to blast through this fast. And I did. I finished the fastest, in 10:01, without breaking up any sets.
Our workout group was not as big as the Team Survivor group, but there might have been eight or nine of us. We did the KB snatches in a big circle and jockeyed for space on the pull-up bars, with some people using rubberbands for assistance or jumping from a bench.