Takes on Pukey the Clown

Posted: May 28, 2011 in CrossFit, Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Pukey the Clown was among the reasons I was really not thrilled about trying CrossFit. I think clowns are generally creepy (except those at Cirque du Soliel), and a vomiting one is just too John Wayne Gacy for me. Why, I wondered, would anyone think working out until you vomited was a Good Thing?

The tradition at some CrossFit gyms is to handout a Pukey the Clown t-shirt the first time a participant throws up. According to Plano Crossfit coach Troy Dodson,

Our goal isn’t to make you throw up, of course, but it happens sometimes. The clown T-shirt is just to lighten things up and let the person know they’ve pushed themselves hard.

Pushed yourself hard? Or too hard? Or maybe you’ve done something incorrectly? Or do you just think you’re a badass if you workout so hard you vomit?

I’d pretty much put Pukey out of my mind until I thought I was going to throw up during a workout. I told Coach Gary, and he laughed and said “So you’re about to do a Pukey, huh?” I was irritated about that until he explained a bit more. From his point of view, vomiting during a workout probably means you’re doing something wrong. One of the guys in his group vomited during a workout, and they gave him a hard time about being Pukey the Clown. He hasn’t repeated whatever the underlying error since.

In my case, I hadn’t hydrated sufficiently (and slowly) before I started working out, and trying to gulp down water during the workout made me nauseated. If I had thrown up, it would have been due to a my own dumb mistake, and calling me Pukey the Clown *might* have helped remind me not to do it again.

On the other hand, I don’t find shame or ridicule much of a motivator, although there are award-winning coaches who’ve used it regularly and get results. Me, I’d just avoid the whole situation and not go to CrossFit anymore if I was actually shamed. If you caught me on a good day, and I perceived it as good-natured teasing, it wouldn’t be a good day (I’m an only child and wasn’t conditioned to teasing early on, so I’m probably overly sensitive, particularly in areas where I don’t have any confidence). I’m hard enough on myself and have enough internal criticism. As I’ve said before, I respond best to praise. Tell me I’m doing a good job, and I’ll try to top myself. Tell me suck, and I hang my head in shame and lose all motivation.

So I guess whether Pukey is a good thing or bad depends on two things: what the person using Pukey means by it, and how the person being christened Pukey, whether by shirt or commentary, feels about it. A thread on the CrossFit discussion board shows the split pretty well. The original poster casually mentions that he almost always vomits after workouts and was asking about how to eat afterward to replace whatever he’d lost. He clearly didn’t think it was a big deal; in a later post in the thread, he basically says that it’s proof he’s working out at high level. Others on the thread disagreed; I’m afraid I’d have to put myself in their camp, although the original poster would be correct in pointing out I’m not into it to compete. I’m just looking at getting healthy, and I just can’t reconcile throwing up after most workouts with health.

Anyway, some of the posters basically recounted the side effects of bulimia: bad teeth and throat irritation from the acid eating through both. But I particularly liked what Matt Haxmeier, clearly no weenie, had to say about the probable causes of recurrent vomiting:

You can make very good gains without puking on workouts…If you find that you can go fast enough to puke frequently:
a.) are probably sacrificing form.
b.) If not a.) then you should perhaps consider scaling up the weight or ROM so you can’t go as fast.
It’s much harder to puke on a workout using 75% of your max then 25% of your max.

Chris Walls chimes in with:

Or c) change your timing on when you eat prior to the workout, and/or drink WAY less water DURING the workout. You’re not going to die of thirst over the course of a CrossFit Class/WOD.

(Thanks, Chris. Wish I’d known that before…and I sure thought I was gonna die of thirst, but the close-to-barfing kind of cured me of that.)

So, fellow fatties and/or newbies, Pukey the Clown is, like most of CrossFit, what you make of it. I think of him, like most clowns, of someone to assiduously avoid. If you like him, well, I think you’re a little whacked, but you probably think the same of me. Again, the beauty of CrossFit is that it can accommodate both of us.

Just go puke where I can’t hear you, ‘kay?

  1. […] took their toll, and it wasn’t long before we spotted quite a few post-race parties hosted by Pukey the Clown. In fact, your humble bloggers had to bail on the Rock’n’Roll Rollercoaster after some […]

  2. […] more than just being fat it’s diet and exercise and how many times you’ve made Pukeys wall and you’re absolutely right.  But that doesn’t mean it’s about being overweight. […]

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