"Guess how many poods I'm hiding in my outfit?"

There is an old Russian proverb which, according to Wikipedia, goes “You never know a man until you have eaten a pood of salt with him.” Like all things Russian, especially the comments in my spam filter, this makes no sense to me. Wanna know why? Because, I don’t weigh things in terms of poods, I don’t don’t speak Russian, and as we all know, salt leads to chins multiplying like rabbits on Viagra, so I try and avoid it if I can.

Technically, a pood is 36.11 pounds. It was a unit in the Imperial Russian Weight measurement system, coming into play around the 12th century and officially abolished by the USSR in 1924, when they realized how ridiculous it seemed. Ridiculous, and probably just a little capitalistic. Either way it was abolished, and for the better, really, except in two arenas of life: obscure bulk grain & potato farmers and the world of weightlifting. This is based on the history of the traditional kettlebell, which was, apparently, cast in denominations of the pood. Great.  You know who uses kettlebells with a scary frequency? Mmm-hmm…Crossfitters.

To be fair, I’m a kool-aid consuming, card-carrying cult member of CrossFit Springfield, and I love it. We’ve gotten healthier because of it, met lots of great people and rediscovered the joys of lower back pain. And, honestly, I’m no xenophobe, but rather, I’m just truly bad at math and conversion tables.

So I think the pood is stupid.

Ounces to quarts to pints to gallons to litres, it’s all fine, but just MAKE UP YOUR DAMN MIND. We going metric? Then let’s do it. Sticking with ASE? Runes? Cubits? Let’s stick to a common language here so I don’t hurt myself trying to eat an entire pood of salt.

We have kettlebells in pounds and kilograms at the gym, and I can’t tell the difference, and they’re all heavy and I feel the fool swinging them back and forth, between my legs, always aware of the inherent danger to reproductive zones. But you know what we don’t have? Poods, dammit. And I’m proud of our coaches/owners for sticking to their guns. We ain’t living in a Cossack Time Zone, people.

This is not good enough for some elite-ish CrossFitters, my brother being one of them, who scoffs at the notion that I don’t bark out my pood weight when selecting kettlebells for random sessions of sweating kilos, or liters of liquid fat off. This is not that uncommon. It’s in the tone, really and here’s how I imagine it goes down all over CrossFit Affiliates the nation over:

“Well, yeah, that’s a good number of reps, but how many pood was it?”

“Excuse me? I have no idea what you’re talking about. Did you say ‘pood’? Cause that sounds like a gross bodily function-noise or something”

“Yeah, you’re not serious about CrossFit, obviously.”

“I’m sorry if my non-use of a long dead Russian unit of measurement is lacking. Clearly, I suck.”

“Yes, you do. Now, take your shirt off and show me you’re serious about elite fitness.”


It’s as foolish to me as walking into the lumber yard and ordering framing materials in cubits, as though I was constructing an ark rather than a garden bench. They’d look at me with a vacant stare and hit that button under the counter that orders the cops. Same thing to me with weights. I know how much I weigh in pounds, so I can reference other things weight in comparison. I’m not a cocaine dealer, nor European, so kilos mean very little to me. When they start ordering us to run in terms of “clicks”, right after I’ve finally gotten used to “meters” (I just multiply by 3 and call it good, cause I’m casual like that), I may just lose it.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to revel in my non-elite status, happy to line things out in increments of 5, or 10, or 1. I’ll think up funny-to-me phrases for shirts I’ll never make that say things like “I just pood for a PR”.

And I might seriously consider seeing if Rosetta Stone offers language immersion courses in Ancient Russian, so my amigo Ashley & I can strut around the gym and bark out marching orders as though we were gonna launch the next Sputnik from the rowing machines.

Probably with our shirts on, too.