If you ever want someone to look at you as though you’re a bit nuts, just say to them these three simple words: ‘I do CrossFit’. If they know what it is – and more and more people do as the fitness phenomenon continues to spread – your likely response will be somewhere between raised eyebrows and ‘you’re a bit nuts’. Quickly followed by a smile that says ‘and I respect you for that’. CrossFit is not a craze or a fad: it’s an increasingly popular way to challenge and improve yourself day after day through constantly varied exercise. Celebrity followers include Cameron Diaz and Jessica Biel (constantly voted one of the sexiest women in the world) and side effects include glowing skin, a washboard stomach, and very jealous friends. Then of course there’s getting to grips with CrossFit fashion, which is every bit as varied and colourful as the workouts are. More on that once I’ve explained what CrossFit is and why women globally are getting hooked (and that’s all before I’ve even mentioned the men).
Standard definition of CrossFit: Constantly-varied, high-intensity, functional movement.
The Denver definition of CrossFit: Ridiculously hard and utterly addictive exercise that will give you the best body and biggest smile you’ve had in your life.
I ended up doing CrossFit entirely by accident. I’d joined a traditional gym and was following a high-intensity programme put together by my other half, who was qualifying as a CrossFit coach. I was adamant that CrossFit was ‘his thing’ and I wouldn’t do it just because he did. Plus, I was loving my own workouts, thank you very much. I could even do them in my hotel room when I travelled with work. It was not dependent on expensive machines and high-tech equipment: a bit of floor space and a loaded suitcase do the trick nicely.
It was a good few weeks before the penny dropped: I’d been doing CrossFit the entire time. Damn! By that time it was too late: I was already hooked, and the obvious next step was to check out a proper CrossFit gym (affectionately known as a ‘box’).
What to Expect
In the beginning, CrossFit is a minefield of acronyms (mixing your WODs with your AMRAPs). Its fearsome reputation makes it a little daunting: this is not something you plod along to, skulk at the back and barely break a sweat. The best way to get started is to go along to an open day at a CrossFit box near you, where you’ll be given a thoroughly enjoyable introduction to the sport, and leave desperate to do it all again. That’s exactly what I did on Saturday morning, when I braved an early start and dubious directions to suss out Reebok CrossFit Glevum on the outskirts of Gloucester.
Hidden away on a business park, RCF Glevum is not your average gym – but then CrossFit is not your average sport. Saturday’s attendees range from mums and teenagers to trendy students and young professionals – and the six-pack count is higher than a beer fridge at a barbeque. When Glevum’s owner, Dan Crisp, announces we’ll be warming up outside, I feel ready to go in my Under Armour capri pants and retro Converses. Actually, it’s strangely liberating to be chucking a medicine ball around a car park, giggling like a kid playing netball in the school playground. It certainly beats five minutes on the crosstrainer.
After the warm up, we get down to business. Long hair is tied back and one girl pulls up a seriously cool pair of neon knee socks (I must ask where she bought those). We are teamed up and given a 12-minute workout in which we must complete As Many Rounds (or Reps) As Possible (AMRAP) of 10 box jumps, sit-ups and squats (after 20 burpees, everyone’s favourite). I stand, staring at the pink tongue of my Converses (pretty impressed with how they’re holding up so far) ready to begin…and the clock starts ticking.
‘Counting Stars’ by OneRepublic spills out of the gym’s speakers, and I’m vaguely aware of masters athlete Jon Crisp with his camera somewhere near my feet as I blast through the first 10 burpees. As my partner Alyson starts her 10, I cheer her on: there is a community spirit around CrossFit that is hard to find in any other sport, let alone another gym. Music blaring, legs jumping, heart pumping, I feel a real warmth that has nothing to do with how much I’m sweating. This is brilliant. As Dan calls time, I look around to see everyone is smiling: not because they’ve won – we don’t even share our scores – but because we’ve all pushed ourselves to achieve as much as we can in a 12-minute window. We’ve all burned off more calories than we would’ve done in twice that plodding away on a treadmill – and we’ve enjoyed it a hundredfold.
That, really, is the key to CrossFit: it’s fun and energetic with a different workout every day, and it’s challenging. You work hard in those sessions, but boy do you feel good for it. If you’re serious about getting in shape and enjoying life, CrossFit – especially RCF Glevum – needs to be part of your life. Trust me: you’ll wonder how you ever managed without it.
Part Two: CrossFit fashion (and how to wear knee socks past the age of 21).
For more information about Reebok CrossFit Glevum, contact Dan Crisp and the team on email@example.com or visit www.reebokcrossfitglevum.com.
For general information about CrossFit and incuding elements in your current workout, contact @denvertronix or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lucy Denver is a freelance fitness and motivational copywriter with a keen interest in unique fashion, travel, CrossFit and making sushi. For more information or to get in touch, you can follow her on Twitter @denvertronix.