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CrossFit legend Dave Werner remembers that first grueling workout well.
It was early 2003, and the former SEAL had made a pilgrimage to Santa Cruz, Calif., where a former gymnast-turned-fitness guru named Greg Glassman was running a new gym called CrossFit.
“At the time, it was just this little local gym with a local guy who put his ideas up on the Web,” Werner says. “The first morning we were there, Greg grabbed his early-morning workout crew and took us all out to the local high school track.”
Glassman told everyone to do a 400-meter sprint, then 21 kettlebell swings, then 12 pullups. As fast as they could. And then do it all two more times.
“It kicked all of our butts,” Werner says. The first person finished in 11 minutes. Werner, still recovering from a back injury that ended his military career, was the slowest at just over 19 minutes.
“We all said, ‘Wow, that was a good one. We’ve got to remember that one.’” A few weeks later, Glassman christened the workout Helen.