The best at exercising

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LILYANA VYNOGRADOVA / SHUTTERSTOCK
  • Lilyana Vynogradova / Shutterstock
Kenny Powers, from HBO’s Eastbound and Down, is poking fun at his triathlon-training nemesis when he says, “I play real sports. Not trying to be the best at exercising.” But much to the chagrin of the beer guzzling anti-hero, the worlds of sports and competitive exercise are fusing.

No greater example can be found than the CrossFit Games, a worldwide competition of fitness, whose finals begin July 21st in Carson, California. And — as those of you pausing to catch your breath between kettlebell reps but whose mind is already focused on an arms-only rope climb are probably already aware — Colorado Springs has a team.

Admittedly my knowledge of CrossFit is limited, but you’d have to be living under a BowFlex not to have had someone, friend or stranger, try to explain the many benefits of its intensity to you. It’s like Breaking Bad for gym rats.

I tend to side with Mr. Kenny Powers in terms of my preference for the classic team and individual sports, most of them involving balls or pucks moving in and around goals or nets. My initial reaction would be that I’d rather watch a Yugoslavian high-school water polo tournament on a fuzzy tube T.V. than attend the CrossFit Games. But I think that at least a small portion of my resistance is based in jealousy.

When I watch my beloved Minnesota Vikings play on Sundays there is a super-secret part of me that silently prides: “Ya know, with the right training I bet I could play left guard or defensive tackle. If regular-ass life didn’t get in the way, I could be on that field right now helping them to a championship…” I envision myself as the world’s chubbiest point guard, and any time the rotund Pablo Sandoval enters the batter’s box for the Red Sox my hope of being a Silver Slugger is renewed. However, no matter how hard I try I can’t in a trillion years see myself able or willing to participate in CrossFit. Even in my fantasies I’m too lazy for that.

To me, training and exercise has always been the boring part of sports — which is probably why I’m not an athlete — and a grueling necessity between game days. But to the thousands that participate in CrossFit, training and exercise is the game, and not in an effort for some cup or trophy, but to test the boundaries of their fitness against others with the same passion and desire.

To compete at the highest level in anything involves patience, practice and determination. No matter the sport or competition I am but a lowly, couch-dwelling spectator, and from that position there’s no judgment that can be passed, only a healthy dose of awe and admiration.

Even if I’m still not crazy about the idea of intensely following the third heat of a men’s squat competition, I respect the squatters themselves. I respect the squat — just glad that I’m not the one squatting.

Nic R. Krause was born a cranky, curmudgeon of a child in a Minnesota suburb. He was plucked from the muggy tundra and relocated to Colorado Springs 22 years ago. From intramural jai-alai, to his complicated relationship with the Minnesota Vikings, Nic, plainly stated, is bonkers for sports. Follow him on Twitter @NicRKrause.

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