With help from Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings, songwriters Hal Bynum and David Carroll Kirby saved a sweaty Muscatine man Friday from Curtis P.
This was a bit of an accomplishment since the country superstars are both dead and Bynum and Kirby have most likely never heard of Curtis P. Neither had I until I was introduced at Warrior Crossfit Muscatine to the workout named after him.
I still don’t know anything about Curtis, but I can tell you about the workout, which consisted of 12 sets of hang cleans, right- and left-leg barbell lunges and shoulder presses. We worked up, starting with one repetition in the first set, progressing to 12 repetitions in the last set. And in between each set, we ran 100 meters.
For the non-math majors out there, I think that is 78 repetitions of each of the three lifts and 1,200 meters, or about three-quarters of a mile of running.
It took me 42 minutes and 15 seconds of hell to get through it. And that is perhaps the slowest time ever recorded for this workout. But that’s OK, because I finished it.
In the back of my mind, finishing was seriously in doubt through the 10th and 11th sets. By then, everyone else in the class was done or wrapping up.
That’s when Cash, Jennings, Bynum and Kirby saved me.
Because I was the first person to arrive for the 4:30 p.m. class, I got to pick the music we listened to, according to the gym rules. I chose my new favorite, Pandora’s alternative country radio channel.
At some point early in my 12th set is when Pandora played “There Ain’t No Good Chain Gang.” Bynum and Kirby wrote the song, which Cash and Jennings recorded in 1976 as a duet. It peaked at No. 2 on the country music charts in 1978.
In 1978, I turned 12, which is ironic since this song pulled me through the 12th set of Curtis P. By the time I finished, I didn’t have on a dry piece of clothing. I was soaked and exhausted. It was a great feeling.
I took a photo and posted it on Facebook, where one of my friends combined it with another photo from three years ago.
“You have a chin,” she wrote. “I know you have a way to go to reach your goal, but look how amazing you look … Kind of interesting to see them side by side.”
That, friends, is all the encouragement an old, fat, bald guy needs to keep going to the gym — regardless of how damn hard the workouts might seem at the time.
How hard a workout is — or isn’t — is all a matter of perception anyway. And if I’ve learned one thing since I first tried Crossfit it is this: Yes, I can do it — even if I sometimes need a little help from Johnny and Waylon.