I got locked out of my apartment the other weekend. The housing manager, a German national, said he’d “get in trouble” if he came out to the base when he’s not on duty. I call bullshit, but regardless, he refused to come help me unlock the apartment.
It was Saturday morning, and I simply couldn’t afford to sleep on the grass for two nights until my roommate came back from an out of town trip to let me in. So, I went to the apartment above mine.
My apartment is on the second floor.
So I have the middle balcony. I went to the third floor, one above mine, and knocked. I hoped he had something that I could use to lower myself down to my balcony. Being a summer day, the balcony door was unlocked, and the window opened so I could reach in and unlatch it.
The door opened, and the man living there was a Chaplain. Now, I have a great deal of respect for Chaplains, as they’re men of God. But they have a reputation for being more touchy-feely than your typical, say, infantryman. I admit, I carry this prejudice, and when I found out he was a Chaplain, I thought he would be more risk averse than me, and think my plan was risky and dangerous and never allow me to do it.
“Is your balcony door unlocked? You’ll have to climb down,” were his first words when I presented my dilemma.
“Oh. Ohhhh kaaayyy,” I said. I was surprised he quickly went to that same plan.
“It’s not that high up,” he said. “If you fall, just land on your feet so you don’t hurt yourself.” Great! Thanks, Reverend! He then looked at me expectantly, waiting for me to climb over the railing and lower myself down.
If you look back at the picture, you’re probably thinking “The Chaplain was right. It doesn’t look that high up.” I agree. Until you’re up there, looking down, and it’s purely your own arm strength holding you up. I’ve been doing some pullups, but still… It was alarming. I did manage to lower myself down, get my feet on the railing of my balcony, balance myself, and carefully tuck my head under the upper balcony until I could jump down safely. The rest was a snap.
But I’m not super coordinated or athletic, so I probably looked like:
But once I actually completed it successfully, I felt like:
But the problem remains that I’m not super skilled at climbing.
About two minutes after ninja-ing into my apartment, I hid a spare key in the stairwell in case this should happen again. But still, my climbing skills could use some improvement.
After all, if pursued by a pack of wolves, I wouldn’t be able to climb up and save myself. I wouldn’t want to end up like this guy:
So I resolved to kick up my fitness regimen a notch. There’s a Crossfit club on post, so I decided to subject myself to it. Crossfit, for those who haven’t heard of it, is a fitness regimen that aims to give its practitioners broad, generalized fitness and strength. They have people do a mix of body weight exercises, Olympic weightlifting exercises, and use a stop watch and a human’s natural competitive tendencies to get the heart rate skyrocketing. People who do it are tough and motivated, and it’s become a favorite amongst military, law enforcement and firefighters. Check out youtube.com and search Crossfit and you’ll find a ton of stuff. If you really want to see what some of those guys can do that’s pretty hardcore, search for “three minute fran” on youtube; you’ll see some badass-ness.
I signed up. They’re particularly known for their “WOD”, or “workout of the day”. That’s another Crossfit feature; they constantly change it up to keep it interesting, but also to vary what muscles are trained and strengthened.
Anyway, my first WOD was this: Run 800 meters, do 5 rope climbs, do 50 pushups. Do that whole circuit twice, for time, and that’s the workout. Climbing! A chance to prove that I could climb a rope!
I made it up the rope… once. I tried several more times, but simply didn’t have the grip strength or upper body strength to get up there multiple times. And, my technique is terrible. I know because after the workout I found this:
It’s true when they say the Army teaches to think differently. For example, time with the infantry gives one a certain outlook to injuries, bumps and bruises. I applied this infantry thinking, and analyzed it as an infantryman would: “Well, God gave me two legs for a reason. Since the right leg is injured, I’ll just wrap the rope around the left leg next time!” So I was able to make it up the rope again… one more time. I tried vainly to make it up to the mark several more times, but failed.
The results were predictable:
It took me like 29 minutes or something absurd to complete the workout. One of those guys that completed it in 14 minutes or so gave me some rope climbing tips.
Again, my inner infantryman says that the burning sensation on my outer ankles just means that it’s working.
But it’s a sign of my stubbornness (or possibly a sign of my low intelligence?) that I’m going back to Crossfit. And someday, I’ll be able to do this, just like my childhood hero, Conan the Cimmerian: