You’ve probably heard of CrossFit or know of someone who talks about it (a lot!) and you may be wondering what made them start their fitness class in the first place and what it is that keeps them going back. Here, I’ll run you through an introduction to CrossFit and how I got into it.
What is CrossFit?
Focused on ‘functional fitness’, CrossFit is a fitness franchise that was founded in 2000 by Greg Glassman and Lauren Jenai.
What does functional fitness mean?
Functional fitness aims to incorporate everyday movements, and the muscles they use, into exercise. If you pick anything up from the ground, chances are you’re bending your legs, hinging at your hips and then standing up straight.
To many, this sounds like a squat, and to others – particularly those aware of their technique – a deadlift. Both are simply formal names for common human movements.
Why join CrossFit?
CrossFit is the ultimate in functional fitness and will almost certainly get you stronger, fitter and leaner. Those who join CrossFit are welcomed into a supportive and fun community and quite often make lifelong friends.
Do I have to be fit to join a functional fitness or CrossFit class?
I often hear people saying they couldn’t possibly join CrossFit because they are too old, too weak, too broken or just haven’t got the time. One of the major reasons to join a functional fitness class, like CrossFit, is because it doesn’t discriminate against sex, ability or age: for instance, in a typical CrossFit gym, the age range could start at 16 and go all the way up to 85(!).
How do I start CrossFit?
If you did decide to get on board and join your local CrossFit affiliate, your journey begins with a foundations course to learn the basic movements and techniques needed to take part in the workout of the day (WOD). In fact, nobody touches a barbell until they are fully coached on the correct technique; and I promise you, there’s nothing like the feeling of when you finally clean and press an actual weighted barbell over your head!
How long does the Workout of the Day (WOD) last?
A CrossFit session will normally last one hour and most CrossFit gyms spread these across each day, starting from 6am through to 8pm, meaning there are many ways to fit CrossFit into a busy lifestyle. And each class will have scaled options to make sure the workout is achievable to all abilities and levels.
A WOD will usually include a met‐con (metabolic conditioning session). In a met‐con, you’ll try to get as many rounds or reps as you can in a given amount of time. The movements, rounds, reps and other details always vary, so it’s like a little surprise each day when you arrive. One day you could be sprinting 400 meters and doing back squats and the next you could be doing power snatches and rowing – and you don’t use machines in CrossFit because you are the machine!
Why I got into functional fitness and love my CrossFit sessions
I started my CrossFit journey in 2014 after I fractured my ankle, which sadly put an end to my competitive running days.
I was immediately attracted to the idea of getting really strong and competing in CrossFit competitions because I like the idea of pushing myself to my absolute limits. I needed something that would give me the same high that I used to get from a 400‐metre sprint or a long distance run and I wasn’t disappointed with what I found.
I was particularly impressed with how I was welcomed into the community and encouraged by my coach to progress in the Olympic lifts and WODs.
My favourite lift is the power snatch because it took me years of practice, sweat and tears to perfect the technique. My strongest lift is the deadlift because I can currently lift more than twice my weight.
When I first joined CrossFit, I had to use an empty bar which felt like the weight of an elephant. These days my bar is loaded, my confidence is high and I’ve competed in the CrossFit Games open as a master’s athlete. My long-term goal is to make it to the CrossFit Games regionals in 2020. This summer I will be competing in Tribal Clash at Bantham beach, followed by a few team competitions. I feel stronger and fitter than ever before and CrossFit keeps me focused and happy.