Sunday, November 15, 2009

Copenhagen Day 3: Danish Royal Guard & The Butcher's Lab

So I just made it back to Leiden, and it’s now 11:00 pm. I am SOOORRREEE. Getting out of bed this morning was kind of a joke, and the workouts we did today were far from layups. Today also brought some incredible sightseeing, courtesy of the Danish Royal Guard and what amounts to the most developed hippie commune I’ve ever seen.

Sarah and I woke up early, and were met outside by our friend Jess at 8:30 to head over the Rosenborg Castle, home of the Danish crown jewels and the Royal Guard barracks. Jess and Lars, our two Royal Guard alumni contacts, arranged for us to do a WOD in front of the castle, in the presence of armed guards! This was unbelievable. The place is beautiful, first of all. Manicured gardens, ancient architecture, and it was such a perfect morning. Even though it had been raining all week, the sun rose to clear skies for us today.

Our workout was…

20 minute AMRAP:

1 KB burpee complex (close grip pushup on the handle, SDLHP, kb swing)

100 m KB run

2 KB complex

100 m KB run

3 KB complex

100 m KB run…. Etc

Going in, I expected this to be predominantly a cardio vascular challenge. This was not the case. I used a 24 kg kettlebell, Jess used a 20 kg, and Sarah a 16 kg, but none of us could maintain a running pace much faster than a jog. Our arms were so quickly exhausted by the complex, that controlling the weight during the run was practically impossible. This turned out to be much more of an upper body dominant workout.

In the end, I completed 14 rounds plus 5 KB complexes, Jess did 13 rounds and 2 KB complexes, and I think Sarah did 10 rounds and 2 KB complexes. All of us had long arms after this one…

After a quick shower, Lars and Jess escorted us through the barracks museum, which showcased much of the Royal Guard’s history since 1660. We saw old uniforms, modeled battlefields, weapons, and got to meet a few of the young men now serving.

Then, as is a popular Danish custom, we followed the march from Rosenborg to the Royal Palace for the changing of the guard. It was impressive the adherence to tradition and discipline this process entailed. Perfection is the only word to describe the meticulousness of their uniforms, the tightness of the formation, and the focus of each soldier.

After grabbing a quick bite, the four of us headed across town to the meatpacking district for the final stop on my tour of Copenhagen’s Crossfit elite. The Butcher’s Lab. This box is carved from the remains of an old butchery, and is every bit as raw as it sounds. Exposed tile, big spaces, tons of rooms packed with ropes, tires, and sledges… this place was awesome. It’s funny how the location of a workout arouses a different kind of emotion or motivation based on its unique personality. In the morning the scenery provided an inner calm. This afternoon it was like exposed nerves. I could not have been more sore, tired, and uninterested in doing another workout, but when we walked through the doors of The Butcher’s Lab, I could feel myself amping up involuntarily.

We were greeted by Kenneth, the owner, Anders, our workout partner from Friday, and about 20 others who were revved up and ready to go. The workout was…

10 muscle up

20 inverted burpee

30 snatch (45 kg /25 kg)

40 pullup

50 pistol squats (total)

60 deadlift (45 kg/25 kg)

70 atomic situp (full extension to knees 2 chest)

80 half moon MB slams (total)

90 meter bear crawl

100 double unders

Because Sarah and I had designed this workout the night before, I cannot complain about the amount of work demanded. However, I will say that I ran out of gas pretty quickly and most of this thing was finished on fumes. The muscle ups and inverted burpees were a breeze, and the snatches were decent. The pullups were tough, but the pistol squats were a straight-up bitch. I suck at these things and my legs had nothing to left to give, a pretty bad combination. The deadlifts were fine, the situps were shitty, and the half moon slams took forever. This was the most surprising element for me. Because the standards required us to settle the ball each time before transitioning to the next repetition, this took FOREVER to complete. The bear crawls and double unders were essentially gut check exercises—I knew I could do them, I just had to bite my lip and force myself to keep moving.

I finished in 27:10, 30 seconds behind Sarah’s best time of 26:40. She wasn’t happy in the slightest… (My attempt at irony)

Afterwards, Anders led the “bonus,” something that they apparently do after every WOD, just in varying forms. Today’s was an isometric group pushup. Carefully aligning us facedown in a circle, Anders placed one individual’s legs on the person behind them until we were all connected. Then, on the count of 3, we raised the entire group and held for 45 seconds. This was repeated twice more, and I’m serious when I say I don’t think I could have done a third. The closest I can approximate this type of challenge is a prolonged stalemate during tug of war. I didn’t collapse, but I wanted to.

Jess, Lars, Sarah, and I left the Butcher’s Lab and headed into one of Copenhagen’s truly unique enclaves, Christiania, for a quick bite before I got on the plane to return to Holland. I won’t go into too much detail, but suffice it to say, Woodstock lives. This place is self-sustaining, pays no taxes or rent to the city, does not allow photography, serves only organic food in its restaurants, and has a “liberal” stance on narcotics. We wandered around for awhile, eventually settling in Nemoland, one of Christiania’s restaurant/bars. We ate burgers drank beers for close to 2 hours. Honestly, it was the perfect ending to an incredible weekend. While I know it will be a few days before my body feels right again (I may take a whole week off), I also know that this weekend was worth every bit of pain I am now in. I plan on writing more about the people and culture of Copenhagen over the next few days.

For now, in reference to the ongoing joke of the weekend, I know what my gut is telling me: if Chuck Norris wasn’t American, he’d be Danish.

Nov 15, 2009_3


  1. sounds amazing! i am jealous!

  2. Blair, yours is my favorite CrossFit-related blog. Your expression is excellent and the content always compelling. Congrats on the CFJ article, also!

  3. Thank you Bill, for the comments and the congratulations. I'll do my best to keep up the content!