CrossFit is a strength and conditioning program whose goal is to provide a fitness level that is “broad, general and inclusive.” Gardening is the art of planting plants in the ground so that that the gardener can enjoy the beauty, smell or taste of what was planted. During a CrossFit workout, the goal is to test your mental and physical limits while the goal in gardening is to avoid having your plants eaten by animals, stepped on by your kids or smothered by weeds. Clearly, gardening takes both physical and mental fortitude.
How do these two activities complement each other? By definition, a CrossFit devotee is trying to obtain an elevated level of physical strength and endurance and pays attention to his or her diet and hydration state. In Florida, where the author resides, and many parts of the country during the summer, being in good physical condition greatly aids in the amount of gardening that can be done. It is also essential to stay hydrated during gardening, as it is very easy to melt in the afternoon sun. Endurance gained through Crossfit workouts allows a gardener to push him or herself to plant that last row of Zinnia seeds under the scorching afternoon sun (although, from experience, the author recommends avoiding both gardening and CrossFit during summer afternoons in Florida).
CrossFit strength training and gardening: A core CrossFit exercise is the squat (air squat, overhead squat, front squat, back squat and numerous lifts that include the squat position). During gardening, the squat is performed over and over again. For example, lifting bags of mulch is really just a modified squat. Although you will rarely find a gardener throwing plants in the air, “wall balls”, another core Crossfit exercise, is essential to learn in preparation for throwing objects in an attempt to free your child’s kite/rocket/etc. from the nearby tree that you thought was impossible for a five year-old to reach.
And then there is the love/hate, really more hate, relationship that gardeners have with weeds. Weeds must be pulled out by their roots (the author has drilled this mantra into his five year-old twins). This activity is not as easy as it sounds since the roots of weeds apparently grow twice as fast and are twice as deep as those of the rose bush that you planted two weeks prior to the appearance of the weed. The key to avoiding injury is to pull with your legs while keeping your back upright. This is the exact position that is required to perform a deadlift. While being able to deadlift 215 pounds 30 times (sandwiched between two 800 meter runs – a recent workout-of-the-day or “WOD” at CROSSFIT Gainesville) is only required for the toughest of Florida weeds, strong technique in this lift is essential for avoiding injury while weeding.
How to get started:The author is addicted to both CrossFit and gardening. In Gainesville, the author attends CROSSFIT Gainesville, usually at 5:30 am. While traveling, he tries to frequent CrossFit gyms throughout the country. To quench his gardening thirst he spends as much time as he can planting and pulling weeds in the backyard and regularly can be found admiring plants at local nurseries including Garden Gate Nursery in Gainesville (but not at 5:30 am).
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