Burpees @ Dawn

Maintaining any kind of exercise discipline while travelling can be hard, even more so during the holidays, but for the past 12 days I was able to stay on the work-out wagon thanks to San Francisco Crossfit.

One of the first Crossfit affiliates, the “gym” is tucked away behind the Sports Basement across from Crissy Field in the old San Francisco Army base, the Presidio. It consists of three repurposed shipping containers, a tarp stretched into a facsimile of a roof, the biggest, best decorated porta-potty I’ve ever visited, and a lot of pavement lined with outrigger canoes and assorted San Francisco Bay watercraft. The place is owned by Crossfit legend, Kelly Starett, or “K-Star” as fans of his daily Mobility Work Out of the Day (MWOD) refer to him, and he’s assisted by a half-dozen trainers who stand around acting pleasant while shivering in puffy down coats and thinking of more demonic exercises for the class to perform.

I’d been a fan of the MWOD blog and YouTube series for more than a year, so meeting Kelly was a bit of a fan-celebrity shock, especially when his sense of humor was enacted right in front of me as he imitated an old Chinese lady waiting at a bus stop, or people in an aerobics class goosestepping to Jane Fonda. Kelly is fond of words like “grotty,” “capsule,” “leopard” and “activate” and combines them to get you stretching and hurting like you’ve never been stretched or hurt (in a good way) before.

I was there on a ten-day visitor’s pass. Filled out a waiver absolving them of responsibility should I kill myself (which is possible in theory), and was immediately accepted as just another old guy trying to keep the wolf from the door with a daily dose of Xfit. I hit the 7 am class — perfect for witnessing the dawn light hit the Golden Gate bridge and the Marin headlands all pink and orange and …. Kelly forced us to stop and regard the sight at one point, for no where can I think of a more inspiring back drop for weight lifting, rope climbing, burpees, and running.


As for the rope climb. Faithful readers know I am inordinately proud of my hawser ascending powers, so when the workout of the day sent me up three stories on a two-inch manila rope tied to a fire escape hanging off the back of the Sports Basement, right over a dumpster full of what looked like old rusty rebar, I was all gung-ho but illprepared and while successful in ascending, came down precariously enough that Kelly had to intervene and ban me from further feats of strength as I had burned a bloody six-inch groove into my right shin.

“No more rope for you. That’s going to fester.”

And fester it has.

Anyway, it was very cool to stay in shape in such a primal place; to experience a different Crossfit box and get pushed in new directions for a few days. Now I’m back on the Cape, ready for a return to my home box for some post-redeye redemption.

Author: David Churbuck

Cape Codder with an itch to write

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