Looking at the last post, the topic was the Polar Vortex. Fast forward to February 2015 and our new term is “Siberian Express”. The polar vortex is in Tennessee, we have Siberia’s weather. In the midst of doing chores the other night and muttering to myself, I got to thinking about the episode on Cross Fit that I had seen on the morning news. Before I begin to rant, a brief disclaimer – I do not know much about Cross Fit and am not really picking on anyone who has the determination to get to the gym (or box) on a regular basis. Some spandex clad Ninja contest winner does not need to come kick my butt. But anyhow –
You see the Cross Fitters (what do they call themselves??) hurling kettle bells up and down. Not sure what that is but on the farm, try lifting frozen buckets up and out of their holders. You work back, shoulders, butt, calves, and your jaw as you are muttering/swearing. Then you get a second bucket and repeat the process, and then you grab the two frozen buckets and scuttle down the aisle. You duck under the overhead door (trying to minimize heat loss) and then try to slam the ice loose in the buckets.
Then there is the rope shaking thing that always is pictured in a Cross Fit magazine spread. Here we have the frozen hose drag or trying to unfurl the cold (but not frozen hoses). The hydrants in the arena had frozen so it’s a matter of connecting hoses to the one unfrozen hydrant in the main barn (oddly enough the hydrant in front of the barn, since the two inside the barn were frozen solid) and then dragging the nearly 200′ of hose backwards up the hill walking backwards while tugging on it. I am not certain how much it does for your upper body but it will cramp your quads and butt. Then after you freeze standing around watering the arena (with a leaky sprinkler of course), your now soaked Carhartt laden butt gets to reverse the process. That should be some serious bragging rights. The number of layers required for being outside in sub or near zero temperatures is impressive. As soon as you get into serious work, you start sweating. Then you stand still or go outside and experience just how quickly that sweat can freeze/evaporate and cool you down much more than evolution intended. Wrestling the hoses back into some sort of coil provides a whole ‘nother session of a full body workout as well as some serious character development.
Stall cleaning is certainly a whole body workout that is certain to keep arms and abs in shape. Shoving the full wheelbarrows through the snow pack will continue to work the gluts, calves and hamstrings. Again, no cute gym outfits – this is done in head to toe layers and gigantic winter weight muck boots. Don’t have to worry about sexual harassment on the farm like you might in the gym/box. Round here, unless you know recognize the clothes the person is wearing, you have no idea if it’s a male or female peeking out from behind the hat/scarf/bala clava etc. That and no one else is crazy enough to be outside with you, so there is no one to bother with a comment – sexist/appreciative whatever.
We hurl hay and if you are using round bales like we are, you look like you are training for next summer’s highland games. Again this is great for the arms and particularly the shoulders, not to mention the abs from pulling the fork towards you. The upper back comes into play and you carry your pitchfork full of hay to the appropriate stall.
Loading the woodstove also provides a good workout. You have to squat to get the piece of wood, grab hold, reef backwards to get it out of the snow/ice, then reposition – dead lift it, lumber to the stove, get a good grip and hurl the wood in. This also helps keep the reflexes nice and catlike. In case of a loss of grip or a misfire into the stove you have to be able to get toes and other body parts out-of-the-way. I am currently sporting one purple toenail as a reminder of that.
And of course, all of this has to get done regardless of whether the weather allows for any riding or not.
So while we may lack the glamor of the gym bunnies, we probably have the ability to survive a cross fit workout even if we lack the coordination and the cute outfits. Since most of us are up quite early anyway, we probably won’t be whining about the early start time which seems to be the main gripe of most of the individuals being interviewed.
The view while thawing the pasture hydrant one morning – a balmy -12F