Yep, that’s me. History geek. Bachelor of Arts, grad school, high school teacher (that’s where I met Kyle), museum exhibition writer and researcher—history, history, history, and more history. Lots of teetering bookcases stuffed with enough money spent at Logos and other bookstores to buy a semi-luxury car. More history.
And one of the things I like about CrossFit is the history involved with the WODs. While going over a WOD in a recent class, one of the members asked if I had made it up. I answered no, and proceeded to explain the history of the WOD. He remarked how funny it was that a workout could have a history.
In the early days of CrossFit, when Coach Glassman trained just a few people (Garth, Eva, Jason) out of Spa Fitness, there weren’t any named or benchmark WODs. When he moved to Claudio’s (jujutsu academy), he had a small dedicated space and some future WODs such as Fran started to make appearances. But most of his trainees, those in the C3 class (this is where I first trained CrossFit along with a handful of other jujutsu guys, like Dave L who is at CFSC), never saw them. Besides, Fran was a different looking girl than now and unnamed to boot. The kipping pullup was just in its infancy and most WODs had deadhang pullups. Or jumping pullups. Coach liked jumping pullups, both on a bar and a rope, probably because deadhang pullups slowed down a workout too much.
With the advent of the CrossFit.com website in 2003, workouts began to be standardized and named. The early girls–Fran, Jackie, Helen, Cindy, and others–were all born in some form around these times. Also about this time came WODs such as the Tabata triplets and Fight Gone Bad. The newer girls–Annie, Kelly, Nicole, Lynne–didn’t appear for a number of years. The first Hero, to my recollection, was Murph and it was solo for a long time. Now, hero WODs are sadly common. You can see early and unnamed versions of the benchmark girls with an interesting and informative browse through the main site archives, especially the first year.
The history of a WOD is more than just its birthday. It is fun to know how much WOD times have improved. How much better CrossFitters are now. Helen was the original CrossFit Challenge. I remember when Greg A broke 8 minutes on Helen. Wow, I thought that was untouchable. Back then a decent time was sub 10 minutes and Greg himself didn’t break 9 when the Challenge was first introduced. I remember banging down the UCSC track, the fastest Helen course in Santa Cruz, trying to break that 10 minute barrier. And then OPT went sub 7, by barely a second, but it was still sub 7. Now Mikko does Fat Helen (2 pood swings and chest-to-bar pullups) in 7 forty or so. Heck, even I ended up a couple minutes below 10.
But, there are workouts with histories much older than CrossFit itself, older than probably every CrossFitter. The Super Squat program that I did with Greg A in our pre-CrossFit days (because it was so effective and fun, well you know what I mean by fun, we are doing it again now) has been around since the early part of the 20th century. A good eighty years ago, people like Mark Berry were writing about the program and its effectiveness. And they got it from other, even earlier, lifters.
I like knowing where something has been, who developed it, and what its journeys and permutations have been. Go ahead; call me a history geek, I don’t mind at all.
Thoughts? Please post to Comments.
Thanks to Garth and Greg for background info.
Hang Squat Clean
1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1
10, 9, 8…2, 1
Deadlift 70% 1RM