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Self researcher(s) Kai Chang
Related tools CrossFit
Related topics Sports, fitness, Diet and weight loss

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Show and Tell Talk Infobox
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Date 2011/08/24
Event name Boston Meetup
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Crossfit is a Show & Tell talk by Kai Chang that has been imported from the Quantified Self Show & Tell library.The talk was given on 2011/08/24 and is about Sports and fitness, and Diet and weight loss.

Description[edit | edit source]

A description of this project as introduced by Quantified Self follows:

Kai Chang was a fit competitive rower 15 years ago. He was in great shape! After gaining 50 pounds in recent years he decided to make a change. In this video, Kai talks about his CrossFit training. Kai started CrossFit because it produced effective results with short, high-intensity workouts, which fit well into his busy lifestyle. He used his self-tracking data from CrossFit to motivate (and punish) himself, even when the numbers were bad.

Video and transcript[edit | edit source]

A transcript of this talk is below:

So I’m here to talk about CrossFit. How many of you are familiar with the term, heard of it, used it.

So my experience of Cross fit actually came in pretty much right after I realized of how much I slid from my athletic best. A little bit of a background is CrossFit the definition is ‘variously portrayed as a fitness company, a grassroots health movement, a nascent sport, a fad, a publishing business and sometimes, despairingly a cult.’ Classes at affiliated gyms typically include a warm-up, a skill development segment, and a high-intensity workout that lasts around 10 to 20 minutes. That last part what was interesting to me and I imagine many of you as well considering I imagine we all have very busy careers and we don’t have large blocks of time to dedicate to fitness. I was in a rowing team when I was at university and so my performance was being constantly measured because only the fastest eight men were allowed to compete and the rest gets to watch to be placed on the eighth boat. And I was in the light-weight division which meant that the average weight had to be 70Kg or 144 pounds and no rower can be over 72.5Kg, 160 pounds. I’m 6”00 and that meant that I dieted myself and I worked myself down to at the age of 21 153 pounds and my body fat was 6% and my 2K split personal record was 6 minutes and 47 seconds. And that was great and I was in the best shape of my life and I was rocking and rolling. And I let myself slide and I tried to do a 2K and I couldn’t finish a 2K. It was very embarrassing. I was like wow I’ve really let myself slide. Infact if you look at it, the delta between my former peak rowing body weight and my pre-CrossFit body weight, the delta was large; it was 50/60 pounds, 25% of your body weight. And that was something that I needed to knock out because being tall that you can stretch your fatness out and for cosmetic reasons you can get away with it but for health reasons it’s still there, clogging up your arteries and slowing down your performance. When I was in rowing the fastest eight people were allowed on the boat, and typically I was the fourth fastest on the team. Tayler Fisher one right ahead of me was typically in a head to head match he would beat me 75% of the time. And this was psychologically interesting because it meant that I could touch number one, I couldn’t touch number two, but when he has an off day and I push myself I can just barely beat and that sort of became my source of motivation on a day to day basis. Whether it was lifting at the gym, whether it was running that I was always just a few steps behind and he was objectively a slightly stronger athlete and I was able to with tremendous effort on one of his off days tackle him and just really surpass him. And that was my source of motivation which obviously disappeared once I graduated which led to my slow decline. Now like most people I got a gym membership and we ended up going there for an hour and you end up wasting a lot of time. And the intensity that I had previously in an athletic competitive environment wiped out. There was no objective metric, which with rowing was very obvious; your 2K split time ranked fastest, lowest, being fastest gets to row and everyone else gets to watch. And so everything became focused on optimizing the result. And the the gym’s motto frankly is they don’t want you to show up. If everyone who bought a membership actually showed up they would be overcrowded. To the goal is to sell your membership. So “Cindy” 5 pullups, 10 pushups, 15 squats in 20 minutes for rep count. You have to do as many of those as possible. And if it’s not intimidating there are ways to offset the intensity by doing things like having a rubber band that reduces the pull up weight between 10 to 50 pounds. And once you get to that point where you can actually do them on a consistant basis this was my format and you can tell actually this was February 09 and this was a segment of time when what I was counting on for what my therapist died of a brain hemorrhage very suddenly and that’s where my weight drifted upwards. I didn’t have any activity here. This was my “Cindy” score times 10 here and it went from a very unimpressive 5 to 6 all the way up to around the point that I didn’t showcase before. I realized it was more QS focused is I hit my record, my personal record of 16 and dropped back to nothing. And when I got back into it was how discouraging my number was, drop back off a bit, rejoined a gym after I moved to Oakland and so crept back up got busy and also a new relationship. So the whole idea here is that you want to have that friendly constructive competition and emphasis on a personal record. Every single gym is going to have people who are going to be stronger, faster and more able than you. The goal really isn’t to beat them. The goal really is to top your own best record, and the culture is very much focused around that objective.

Now currently this is where I am and I’m still trying to yank that down to about 190/185 composition and my 2K split. And my fitness score currently I’m trying to get back to 16 and hopefully surpass that in the next month or two. So that’s the very short version and I figured that the QS would be more useful and answer some of the questions that Gary brought up as well as a QS aspect.

About the presenter[edit | edit source]

Kai Chang gave this talk.