Having heard whispers flying around the internet of this mysterious Crossfit phenomenon, I thought it was about time to give it a go. A friend recommended Thames Crossfit and today I found myself in an empty-ish looking gym type room with an ominous looking pull up rig, excited about what was about to go down.
Crossfit instructor Jay talked me through the basic principles. Essentially it is a strength and conditioning workout that focuses on ‘constantly varied, high intensity, functional movement’ with a goal of improving your overall fitness. The idea is that if you train in Crossfit, you will attain an 80% fitness level that will prep you for most things, so for example, myself as a marathon runner, would need to spend the additional 20% of time focusing on my running discipline.
What I like about the basics of Crossfit is the focus on functional movement, so really helping you with movements that you do in every day life. Squats mimic the move you make when getting out of a chair, a dead lift is the same basic movement you’d make to pick something up off the floor and lifting weights overhead is the same as reaching to put something on a high shelf. I like the idea of training to be fit for life, so the exercises covered in class help you do even the simplest of things in every day life much better.
Each session, the actual workout lasts maybe 20 minutes (the sessions are an hour including warm ups and teaching techniques). The workouts are different each time (one may focus on strength, one may focus on gymnastic movement, another on endurance etc) and the drills are timed so you can track your improvement.
Everyone who starts Crossfit has to do a timed ‘Baseline’ workout drill to see what their starting point is. I did that today. The workout consisted of:
- 500m on rowing machine
- 40 squats
- 30 sit ups
- 20 press ups
- 20 pull ups (these were jumping pull ups as I hadn’t done them before, but if you can do proper pull ups, you do 10)
I completed this in 5 minutes 55 seconds. Looking at the board of other people who’d done it, times ranged from 4 minutes through to 13 minutes and over. The aim is, through training, I will obviously improve my technique in each of these and be able to complete that workout in a quicker time.
Did I find it challenging? Yes. If you have a competitive spirit, you’ll love this – not even to beat other people’s times, just to improve on your own. Identifying a weakness in be able to do pull ups, I can see how the various workouts in Crossfit would help me achieve my personal goal of being able to do at least 10.
Overall, this puts you through your paces, gives you a good full body workout and a way to track your performance and improvement. Would I try it again? Absolutely!
Check out the Thames Crossfit website for more info. Huge thank you to Jay for showing me the ropes today.