Wednesday 16 October 2013

My first attempt at: Crossfit

"It's not a cult. Well, if it is it's a bloody good one!" 

These are the words spoken by Nigel, one of the trainers who took me through my paces at Crossfit Bold in Earlsfield on Tuesday night. 

I was invited down to the 'Box' (Crossfit terminology for 'gym') on Tuesday night by Laura, as part of the Sport of Fitness event. The Box is actually in a warehouse in an industrial estate just 5 minutes from the train station and easy to miss if it's your first time so don't be afraid to call for directions! 

There were supposed to be about 6 or 7 of us there, but it turned out to be just me, the lovely Leah (who I ran with in the most horrible weather at the Garmin Kingston Run Challenge last weekend) and one other blogger. Three of us against two of the trainers = no slacking off! 

I have to admit, I've heard a lot about Crossfit over the past year or so - some good, some bad - but I've always been a little intrigued given that most people I know who do it are addicted. But it's not a cult you say? Well, I'll be the judge of that... 

Before I regale you with the highs and lows of a Crossfit class, let me just say that our instructors were great - really knowledgeable,  helpful and encouraging - and I appreciated that Helen (the second of our instructors) took the time after our class to sit down with us and answer our questions about Crossfit. Leah and I were particularly keen to know how Crossfit could benefit our running and it seems that they have trained numerous endurance athletes and triathletes to reach PBs. I'm sure that strength training could save me from injury too, so my mind was put at ease by their reassuring words. 

The other question I had was about cost. I won't go in to too much detail as each club is different, but Crossfit isn't cheap. After attending the class I can see why: as the class sizes are small you have in-depth training and on average 3-1 coaching. There's a lot of focus on learning the right technique: it's almost an education in fitness form! So yes, it is expensive, but until you go down for a trial session (many of which are free) you wont know if it that cost is value for money for you. So why not give it a shot!

Meanwhile, back in 'the Box'....
Some workouts were already going down, and there was lots of throwing around of medicine balls, which, I have to admit, looked quite fun! Okay, so they were GIANT medicine balls, and doing it was probably less fun than looking at it being done, but still - I was optimistic.

Scorpion stretching
Crossfit chat
After a 200m jog and some stretches for warm-up we started by learning the proper technique to squatting. Yes, there is a proper technique, people! I discover that I have a problem with keeping my chest up and getting low enough for it to 'count': you see, all Crossfit moves have standards that would have to be met in a competition scenario - if you miss the required standard then it doesn't count as a rep. Better get this technique down then! A few adjustments and I was there. Slow squats, then fast squats, then faster squats with a wee jump in between. Easy peasy. Lovely (sort of).

Learning the technique...
...putting it in to practice!

Then: box jumps. Now, I haven't had the need or desire to jump on boxes since I was in primary school. Here I was, feeling like a 12-year-old, tongue out, concentration face ON. The instructors said "two-feet jump & land, then lock out your legs at the top". Again I thought: easy. Hmm. Not so easy when you're actually 29 and not a lithe and nimble 12-year-old! But I managed, and actually once you get in to a rhythm it's not too bad. 
Jump, lock out, step down, repeat. Sorted. 


Next: Kettlebell swings. I've done a few kettlebell classes so had the technique for Russian swings down - albeit that the kettlebell was a bit heavier than my usual 3-5kg! American swings are a different story: you have to take the kettlebell up above your head and stop it there before swinging back down. Now that's tough! 

Russian swing - half way up
American swing - aaaaallll the way up! Loving Leah's face here :)
But again, we all got there. See - the instructors were right - we can do this stuff!! 

Finally: the dreaded burpees. Burpees are the bane of my life. They were sent here by the devil himself to train you for hell. Because that would be my hell: never-ending burpees. Not that I'm dramatic or anything... So we got down (literally, flat down on the ground before leaping up again and clapping) with burpees - if you don't know what they are then look it up, do three, and I DEFY you to disagree with my earlier sentiments. E.V.I.L. 

A little rest ensued. Hurrah, she thinks, class over: high fives all round! This Crossfit malarkey is fun! Eh, no. The writing is on the wall...

"OK, so 21 of the first, 15 of the next, 9 of the last - totally do-able," I think. 
Again: WRONG! 21 of EACH, 15 of EACH, then 9, you guessed it, OF EACH. Oh, and as fast as you can, please. GO! 

Death by burpee is not how I want to go, but I came close. I had to take a few deep breaths between the burpees and the box jumps, but the coaches encouraged me on, and all three of us worked our asses off and finished in just under 10 minutes. Yes, that's right. Just 10 minutes of flat out effort and I almost died. 

Then I smiled. 

Then we stretched. Ahhhhhhh! 

Then the penny dropped. 

This is what Crossfit does. High-intensity, controlled-technique training: it pushes you (safely) to your limits and then, when you think you're done, pushes you to give that little bit more. That 'little bit more' is why you will see changes - it's where 'change' lives. Reaching that point hurt, and I wouldn't have done it by myself in the gym. It took someone standing over me telling me to keep going, that I could do it, not to give up. 

And the trainer's statement at the start was right. I wasn't 'brainwashed' into thinking or writing this, it just all of a sudden made sense! I get what the Crossfit masses see, I really do. And, while I'm sure it's not for everyone, I think I've got that competitive spirit and drive to be physically fitter, which means I could get addicted and love it and believe that it's totally worth the money. I'm just not sure my bank manager will be too happy about that...

One thing he does like is when I get some lovely goodies for my efforts - so thank you to Laura for arranging these Pure Pharma and Rock Tape goodies for us. 

Almost want to strain a muscle or two to be able to tape myself up in the cow tape. It's the simple things, right? :)

Are you a Crossfit lover or hater? Has it improved your fitness or running pace? I'm tempted to try out the beginners course and if I do you'll be the first to hear how it goes. If I survive...

Katy | City Girl Fit

1 comment:

  1. Glad you enjoyed it! Sounds like a great session :) I've been doing Crossfit for about 4months now, and I love it! It definitely pushes you but when you complete something you didn't think you could, there's an amazing sense of achievement!