Hitting the Road, WOD Style

By Jacob Bielanski

In CrossFit

December 03, 2008

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Jacob Bielanski is a traveler and a CrossFitter.

Nowhere does the CrossFit model of fitness match application more than in the world of travel. The modern image of a habitual traveler does not generally match the image of an avid CrossFit devotee. The works of Ernest Hemingway, Anthony Bourdain, or Bill Bryson rarely touch upon the matter of overhead presses; their figures certainly don’t suggest that they’ve ever even done one. This is a shame, because CrossFit opens the world to an individual while travelers themselves partake in a “back alley” version of the CrossFit philosophy.
Whatever one’s reason is for beginning CrossFit, it’s easy to find the simplicity in its carefully argued message: Fitness is about ability. Ability is, however, a frustratingly vague noun without an out-of-gym context where it can be measured. Travel is a realm where the CrossFit devotee has the chance to see the rubber meet the road.



11 Comments on “Hitting the Road, WOD Style”


Cody Limbaugh wrote …

Kind of funny how with 'constant variation' comes the ability for almost anyone to relate almost anything to Crossfit.


wrote …

This is a little over the top. No wonder some think Crossfit is a cult.
Does Tom Cruise Crossfit?


wrote …

Robert, you must not travel that much. I am a competitive distance runner and CrossFitter. CrossFit has been by far the superior training system in preparing me for my many travels. I can very closely relate to Jacob's experience. I have had to run with a forty pound pack on my back to catch a plane. On a rafting trip had to fight a rivers current, jump and catch a suspended bar on a causeway, and do a muscle up to safety in order to avoid going over a waterfall. On a camping trip with a my Cross-Country team when a teammate got injured I was the only one strong enough to get to them and carry them back to camp. The wear and tear on your body over a long, physically engaging vacation is significantly lessened by crossfit. The list goes on, believe me other on these trips can attest to my ability to take a beating and keep going. I credit crossfit, sorry Robert.

P.S. Got any goats for a sacrifice to our beloved leader, Coach Glassman? I've already got the kool-aid.


wrote …

I agree with Robert. It's an interesting article, but the author is either reaching a little too far about the fitness demands of traveling or he's not a very organized or accomplished traveler. My job requires me to spend 150+ days a year traveling away from home and the only crossfit challenges that travel typically presents to me relate to how to use the limited fitness equipment found in most hotels to come close to the rx'd wod.

The author does mention onebag.com and makes reference to the uselessness of wheeled luggage to the serious traveler- couldn't agree more with him on that. For anyone planning a trip, utilize this resource and rethink the way you pack- there are two kinds of luggage: carry on and lost.


wrote …

If Tom Cruise is a Crossfitter...I may be forced to turn in my Pukie Bag. I might actually like to see Mr. Top Gun on a Filthy Fifty workout.


wrote …

Eric, travel often engenders a different response from different people. In my opinion travel is useless if the most challenging thing you do is try to modify gym equipment to fit the WOD. I am not saying that sightseeing vacations are bad, I am just pointing out that that is not the only type of vacation. Personally, I would rather be hiking Yosemite than seeing the worlds largest ball of string in Touristtrap, Iowa. For my travels it is an indisputable fact that crossfit is useful.


wrote …

It all depends on what you mean by 'travel,' I guess. I did a month-long trip in the Rockies and found myself hit by all sorts of physical situations, many of which I was completely unprepared for (this was before I did CF, just for reference). On a musical trip more recently, my friends wanted to do a bottom-and-back Grand Canyon trip (one day, obviously), skiing, and a 10 mile run (ten miles all told), mountain hiking, snorkeling, and lake jumping in the course of a week and a half. Even in your built-in travel plans don't include physical challenges, fitness opens you to more opportunities, and getting the most out of your travel experience might require CF's style of GPP.


wrote …

I agree with Jeffrey, simply because the kind of travel I often do requires a lot more physical labor than the usual leisurely vacation... I remember 10 years ago, I refused to walk up the stairs of Notre Dame in Paris (the only way up). The stairs are narrow, very shallow and wind like a spiral.. I knew I couldn't make it and missed out on that bit of sight seeing. Hauling luggage over the cobblestones of Paris, back then that took it all out of me. Trekking (lost) along a forest path, following a very slopey, rocky river in the south of France for many hours. Traveling the rural areas of Japan where toilets are a hole in the floor (squats really ARE good I now realize). For someone as out of shape as I was, these things were difficult tasks, and some impossible. After doing crossfit for only a few months, I fully comprehend how incapacitated I was as a traveler. I really do think crossfit prepares us for just about any challenge. Things that I honestly wasn't able to do well, if at all, are now things I do every day with crossfit.


Troy Hinchco wrote …

I am a new Crossfit tragic but long time traveller, like many Aussies and Kiwi's I did the backpacking around the world and had a great time, surviving on a diet of beer and whatever I could afford with what money was left over.

Now I travel almost every week interstate within Australia and occassionally to New Zealand and Italy.

Because I am away from home so much I have been desperate for an excercise methodology that would best serve me to keep my otherwise herculean arse in control. If I train hard - then I eat well - if I'm disciplined in my excercise that flows throughout my work and home life.

Crossfit has armed me with not only the WOD's which can often be replicated in a shitty hotel room but more importantly with a greater understanding of an overriding excercise/health dogma. Through increased understanding of Crossfits 'thinking' I am able to apply it to anything, anywhere and anyhow I can train. For example even if I don't need to I pack a full duffel bag of crap when I go away so I can use that for Thrusters/Cleans/Overhead Squats etc etc etc. Crossfit on the surface is exceptional - Crossfit as I get better understanding of the basis and foundation of the 'idea' is a true weapon to become a better human specimen - comparable to whatever gauge you choose - but most importantly - comparable against yourself & to be better than you were 3-4-6 months prior. Jesus! Do I sound like a Crossfit Fundamentalist?


wrote …

Travelling might not seem as extreme as, say, one of the heroes workouts but isn't the point of training hard so that you can take the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune (or poor travel planning - your choice!) in your stride? or GPP... hang on a minute!!

For what it's worth, I liked the comment from Heather about missed opportunities pre-CrossFit. That and the article, for me, are a nice counter-point to the idea that CrossFit is all about preparing for a moment of heroism that may never come (which I think was the expression used in the New York Times article). There's a small part of me would love to think that one day I'll be a first responder and my pseudo-crossfitting will give me a chance to shine. I think it's altogether more likely that I'll be one of the ones bowling through the terminal building with both mine and my wife's backpacks on... wait a minute, done that - and while it was the result of poor planning, it did save me having to wrestle a porter for my bags in a Middle Eastern airport!!

You fire-breathers and big dogs are the inspiration to the mortals among us - I'll never win the Games- but heck, there's still something in it for all us (cultist or not) I'm enjoying life a lot more for spending less but more effective time in the Globogym/street/park!


wrote …

Great article!
Whether your travel is the adventure fitness variety or the business travel variety there are two ways CrossFit can be beneficial.
1) Visit CrossFit affiliates where you are travelling and see how other people run their box
2) Be creative and have a list of bodyweight WODS you can do without any equipment to keep the Kool-aid flowing. My husband is currently on a concert trip to Japan and before he went we made up six pages of WODs that he and his fellow musicians can do while on the road. Being on the road doesn't have to be a vacation from working out.

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