Here at Greatist, we believe in taking a day off. Instead of our regular programming Saturdays, our writers get a chance to write about living the greatist lifestyle and, basically, whatever they want. This is one of those awesome articles. Enjoy!
As I sauntered into Tempelhof Park with Florian “Flo” Haselhoff, founder and coach of Crossfit Berlin, I thought of Herman Melville’s quote in Moby Dick, where in describing the vast expanse of the oceans, he said “…the firmament of waters heaved the colossal orbs.”
Tempelhof Park isn’t famously large, but the vast open space extended beyond my 20/20 vision. Being surrounded by unkempt grass and dark grey clouds did not provide the uplift I usually count on to mentally prepare for the wod (workout of the day). We were working out in this space because Crossfit Berlin was a fledgling affiliate, still building its client base and reputation to move into its own space. Flo explained that we were in the former airport where the Berlin Airlift transpired decades earlier. I was able to unworriedly exercise in the exact spot where people were once struggling for their freedom and lives. #gratitude
Crossfit is an extremely intense, but scalable, exercise program. The intensity and functionality of the workouts, combined with the optional competitive aspect has ensnared me since discovering it in 2009. Workouts are notoriously hard and equally intimidating for couch potatoes and cyborgs alike.
Flo prescribed the following wod: seven minute AMRAP (as many rounds as possible), each round consisting of five 53lb. push-presses each arm and ten 2ft. box jumps. This wod wasn’t daunting at first glance- I have completed wods requiring less time that are seemingly more imposing (Fran). To my left was a well-built Crossfiter named Nico, a graduate student in Berlin, who Hasselhoff paired me with so we could push each other. Nico and I brought the best out in each other, as we were neck-in-neck for the entire seven minutes of this unexpectedly grueling but fun workout.
Being immersed in the midst of a wod is the one time per day when I’m truly living in the present, more so than when I meditate! I don’t recall ever having an extraneous thought float through my mind during a challenging wod. The body is unable to entertain any other thoughts while summoning all of its physical and mental resources to push through pain barriers and finish the workout as quickly as possible.
My response to this wod was consistent with this experience. Partly due to the fact that I was in a new environment, I can still place myself back in that moment. I can still hear Flo’s encouraging remarks, still see Nico in my peripheral as I kept abreast on his progress, and still see the airport terminal in the distance- my mind unconsciously registering it all for what was the longest yet most gratifying seven minutes of my day.
Flo invited me to workout with him, Nico, and the rest of his budding crew a few more times while I was in Berlin. We worked out once in a beautiful park in West Berlin, Volkspark Friedrichshain, in which I was happy to be a visitor since all of my other activity had been in East Berlin.
Flo was extremely welcoming and thoughtful throughout my stay. I hope to see him again… but next time put him through one of my wod creations.