If you haven't already heard, our new Old Street Club is fitted out with CrossFit City Road. In celebration of the fact, we put together a special session for our favourite bloggers. Tom Wheatley reports.
To anyone who exists outside of the Crossfit ecosphere the format appears to be little more than a bit of weight lifting, some running and the odd burpee. Which, to most people who aren't into exercise, is basically what going to the gym is. For everyone else CrossFit is a bit more complicated.
Up until recently I'd never actually tried CrossFit. I'd walked past a class full of “crossfitters” (don't quote me on that, there's probably a far cooler name) and watched for a few minutes as they leapt about the room jumping on things or lifting some kind of weight. They're normally sweating as well; quite a lot in fact.
Most of the exercises I'd seen or done before so when I was asked to join the Gymbox bloggers for a taster session I thought I may as well. It couldn't be that hard. As always I did my detailed research before the session; a quick scan of whatever was written on Wikipedia. In this case I learnt CrossFit comprised of “constantly varied functional movements executed at high intensity across broad modal and time domains.” Yep, sounded fine to me.
I'm not going to try and explain in detail how CrossFit works, largely because if I do I'll probably get it wrong. Your best bet is to look at the official website for the sport where the rules and theories all stem from. Or you could just go and try it out for yourself.
The class was broken into three sections. The first was a warm-up, cardio segment which saw us running on treadmills and then performing box jumps at timed intervals (I believe this is called EMOM – Every minute on the minute). It wasn't until the second section however that things started to get really difficult.
We each picked up a barbel and ran through thruster drills. These comprise of squatting whilst holding the weight to your chest then standing up explosively (i.e. quickly, so your whole body works in one fluid motion), ending the exercise in a shoulder press. The exercise alone is not that tough, the real difficulty comes when we moved onto the actual workout.
For the next twelve minutes we worked on a ladder format. The first set saw us complete 21 thruster reps followed by 21 burpees. After this we moved onto 18 reps, then 15 and so on. This repetition format is one of the most popular in Crossfit. Not only does it work the whole body but also acts as a ridiculously tough cardio workout.
I found the first few reps fairly easy, thinking that I probably should have stuck more weights on the bar (I had a 15kg bar with 5kgs of weight on it). However as I hit the 15 repetition mark I was dying. My weightlifting ability has always been based on 10 – 12 reps, so having to carry out the same exercise over and over again meant I was completely out of my comfort zone. I stood panting as the rest of the bloggers (all ladies, I should probably mention), powered through the sets.
Finally after this section was done we finished with a series of complex stretches, another important aspect of a Crossfit workout. I'd tell you what they were but in the ensuing haze the followed the thrusters I can barely remember.
For anyone wanting to get fit then CrossFit is by far one of the best options. You'll inevitably lose weight whilst at the same time putting on muscle. The timed format means that you can compare your level week-by-week (or even daily if you're that way inclined) with what you did previously. There's also a heavy focus on form and safety, something you're probably missing in your normal weights workouts.