One of the things you quickly discover while doing CrossFit, or Bootcamp, are the muscles you haven't used since college.

Protesting...then screaming.

Our workout only requires us to complete as many repetitions as we can, but somehow, none of us are taking it easy. Seeing (and hearing), my companions’ grit somehow lends me strength, and I push out reps I wasn’t counting on. By the end of two hours..ok 15 minutes, all of us are panting, reaching for refreshments and yet…smiling. We don’t have the breath to say it, but we know we’ve earned something today. 

Reading up on this kind of high-intensity, short-duration workout, I learn that unlike long-form cardio, it doesn’t ramp up appetite as much. Also, post-workout thermogenesis is increased. The body is actively burning more calories hours after stepping into the Box. Even better, any carbohydrate eaten goes to replace lost glycogen - fuel stored in muscle.

The dreaded “delayed onset muscle soreness” or “DOMS” hits hard the next day. Thankfully, Coach Eslera warned us newbies and his post-workout stretching, as well as advice on drinking lots of water and getting plenty of rest no doubt lessened it. 

Fast forward two weeks later. Workouts are getting easier, but definitely not easy. I’ve gotten to know several regulars, the ones who’ve committed to this sport for at least one month, and we can toss medicine balls at each other while cranking out our last reps. More than a few are Facebook friends. To up the challenge, some of us sign-up for the Primal Instinct course. This two-day, Foundations class is held once a month, and teaches us CrossFit’s technical aspects. Big, complicated movements like the deadlift, push-press and split-jerk, are taught by none other than Primal Ape’s lead trainer - Coach Anton SieteReales. He scrutinises each of us, correcting positioning, adjusting joint vectors and motion timing in minutiae. “Form” is an extremely important aspect of CrossFit, and Coach Anton isn’t about to anyone into ultra-intense motions without proper review. So for two straight evenings, me and nine others repeat barbell rows, perfect push-jerks, and complete kettle-bell circuits while others turn-in for the night. Thankfully, Coach Anton is a fun mentor. His criticism is concise and practical, his praise is quick and honest. 

Two memories from Primal Instinct standout. The first event was when a classmate came in 10 minutes late. He was sentenced to 300 “burpees” - a CrossFit exercise involving full chest-and-thigh-must-touch-the-ground push-ups, before standing up, then clapping. The class was painfully watching his first few reps when Coach Anton hinted “any of you can take off a few reps,” and one by one, we did - each yelling how many we were willing to do. It is touching, and rare, seeing cooperation from almost total strangers these days.

The second was an unexpected partner WOD. We had to compete in pairs, with one partner resting, while the other does the work. Our goal was to complete as many rounds as possible in the allotted time. Chucking a 20lb medicine ball at a wall and swinging a 50lb kettle bell has never been fun…til now. Working out together bonds people. Having someone cheer you on, fighting discomfort, exhaustion, and gravity - teaches you a thing or two about being their for someone else. My partner and I won, but barely, with just a single repetition. The prize? A sports drink! And increased respect for someone I’ve worked-out with, our coach, and the system that builds such bonds.

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