BLUEFIELD — From burning sit-ups to the humble push-ups, old-school fitness is cool again. These exercises may be old — the American English term “push-up” was first used between 1905-1910 — but they still hurt just the same. Regardless of the time, 1905 or 2013, they transform the human body, creating strength and muscle. I can remember the first time I attempted a push-up in junior high. My skinny arms couldn’t hold up my body weight. I switched to “girl push-ups,” otherwise known as push-ups on the knees. Then, I fell in love with other fitness routines, especially running, and push-ups didn’t seem important. Neither did pull-ups. I always admired the women in the gym who were able to do pull-ups. Too hard, I thought. I put old-fashioned exercises on the fitness back burner.
Over the course of the last month, I have done more push-ups, modified pull-ups and sit-ups than I ever did in six years of PE class in the ’90s. After I visited the new CrossFit facility in Bluefield, Va., for a story, I was eager to take a class, just to see what all the craze was about. I had heard about CrossFit from many out-of-state friends and had read about the sport on the Internet. ESPN aired the CrossFit games on national television. And the fitness company Reebok signed a 10-year contract with the sport, cashing in on the popularity and current fitness trend. The entire fitness world seemed enchanted with CrossFit and I wanted to know why.
Why would anybody want to do multiples reps of push-ups, burpees and pull-ups? Well, I admit, it sounded painful, but kind of cool. CrossFit may be popular, but the basics are not new. The sport didn’t invent the pull-up; it simply brought it out of the fitness closet, along with a few other classic moves. Remember the jump rope? It isn’t just for the playground. There are dozens of different moments in CrossFit that are familiar. At the same time, there are just as many new skills and an expansive vocabulary as well. For every old-fashioned exercise, there is one that is new and challenging. I am still learning new words everyday. Those few classes have turned into a celebration of my one-month anniversary.