What do you know of CrossFit? To me it was this thing I watched on TV and was amazed at these people who appeared to be super human. I had the pleasure of seeing it up close and personal earlier in the year when I was at training camp at Club La Santa Lanzarote with my triathlon club, Havering Tri, as there were some CrossFit Games athletes there training. Yes, I was the person who asked for a photo and I was the person who walked past and ended up standing staring in amazement at what these people can do.
I was so intrigued with what was involved and when I found that there was a CrossFit box close to home I knew I wanted to give it a try and that is how I started with Iron Phoenix CrossFit. That was over a month ago now and I’ve had several people ask me about it – what is it like, what do we do, that were exactly the same sort of questions that I had.
What is CrossFit? CrossFit is constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity.
I first of all took part in a free taster session so I could join in and see what it was all about and I dragged my husband along so I would at least know one other person. I left a sweaty mess but loved it. The worst bit was listening to my husband moan about his abs for the rest of the week.
To attend regular sessions you have to attend a fundamentals class. The fundamentals is necessary to complete prior to attending sessions to teach you how to move safely and effectively. Once this was complete I was good to go.
I had heard that CrossFit is like a community and the people in the box are all super friendly and they were right. I attend the 6am sessions and so see the same faces and that actually makes me feel more comfortable. The sessions are different every day and one of the ladies I’ve met, Jules, has been at this box for 18 months and said she’s never done the same WOD twice.
And I realise I’ve said WOD, which some people will read and be like yeah I know what you are saying or if you are like I was when I first started I would nod my head and wonder what all these weird acronyms were so here are some:
- WOD – workout of the day. I found a definition of this once which described it as tortuous, makes you want to cry, feel like a rock star after, workout – which is pretty damn accurate!
- AMRAP – as many rounds/reps as possible. You might be asked to record the reps so you can track progress.
- EMOM – every minute on the minute. You might be set a list of exercises and every minute on the minute you do them in a certain order.
- Box – this is the name for the gym. Why is it called a box? A box is usually a box shaped space – no posters or mirrors that you would get in an everyday gym. Think less bells and whistles but everything you need to get your workout done.
- RX – this refers to a WOD as prescribed ie with no scaling done so using weights etc as listed.
- HSPU – hand stand push up. I don’t need to worry about this for now.
There are a ton more but to be honest I am only a month in and I am still learning this myself.
What happens if you can’t do something? I tend not to look in advance at the workouts as I am sure I would talk myself out of going but there would be no need as literally everything can be scaled. For example handstand push ups you could do that or a scaled version where you kneel on a box and simulate the same movement doing the push up part on the floor or you can do a push up with hands on the box. In short there is always an alternative to give you just as good a workout and still push you based on your ability.
Does other training help do CrossFit? I run (terribly) and do obstacle runs (again not brilliantly) and cycle and so thought I am sure that will translate in some way for example on the assault bike. The assault bike is not an ordinary bike, you use both your arms and legs on it – you need to pump the handle bars with your arms while also cycling with your legs to give more of a full body exercise. It’s not the same as cycling or even being on a turbo trainer so I am not sure much of my cycling ability helps at all!
What if you are the slowest or get the least amount of reps? At the end of some of the WODs you put your score on the board – this might be the number of reps you completed or the time you took to complete a set workout. This terrified me to begin with – the thought of putting up what I assumed would be an embarrassing number compared to other peoples. BUT I can honestly say no one cares! Not once have I worried about putting a score on the board. There is a variation of exercises being done for example in the WOD on Monday one activity had the following scaling options:
- Muscle up or chest to bar or pull ups or ring rows or dips
So in short the number completed is completely personal to you and not comparable. The idea is to put in max effort for you and that is all.
What should you expect from the sessions? To be sweaty, tired but feel great after – much like the definition of the term WOD that I put earlier. I am not worried any longer about working on a piece of equipment with sweat literally dripping off me. I am not worried about finishing a WOD and just laying on the floor – I didn’t even care when I left a sweaty arse mark on the floor – I was too tired from the WOD itself to care and to be honest there were several of us laying on the floor spent! Towards the end of a WOD earlier in the week I fully thought my wall ball was on point but was tired and clearly not enough effort – ended up completely missing the target and the ball went across the box – yep I’m that girl!
What are the coaches like? I can only go by the coaches at Iron Phoenix but so far I have had Ashley, Alina, Ian, Omar, and Lucy and they’ve all been great. Really patient even with all my stupid questions especially after the briefing of what we will be doing when they say everyone understand what they are doing and everyone nods and I laugh and say I don’t understand all of it but will follow someone else or ask again what something means. Always on hand with loads of tips and advice. Constantly watching that form is correct, monitoring progress and amending scaling as necessary – on Monday I was doing my box jumps standing on two 20kg plates rather than the floor (box jumps are something I need more confidence with as I am never sure I will actually jump high enough to land on the box and sure I will just whack my shin on the corners) and Omar noticed I was jumping high enough to remove one of the plates whilst putting my mind at rest that I am jumping high enough to do so – and I didn’t whack my shins either so bonus!
Do you need to stretch? There is always a dynamic warm up session before any workout so you are completely ready and stretching after, in my opinion, is a must. You are doing so many different exercises and utilising muscles you might not usually use that without stretching you will become sore and stiff pretty quickly! I have started doing yoga at home following my sessions and it definitely helps me.
And who knew skipping was so bloody hard? It’s like when you try monkey bars as an adult and think yeah did that as a kid, going to nail it. Ha think again! Skipping is exhausting and double unders? Basically the skipping rope going round twice per jump – wowsers that’s going to take some work!
So why should you try it? Well why not? I find myself explaining it to people as so hard but so good and it is just that.
If you are local to me as well there is an awesome offer on at Iron Phoenix CrossFit that includes a free taster session, fundamentals and then 12 sessions after that for £60.