Peer pressure is a powerful force, especially when it is applied by muscular men.
I was sat last week discussing the blog with some friends when we got onto the topic of my next activity – what would I be doing for ‘C’? It was at this point that I realised the danger I was in. Like a gazelle, who has been idly chatting away to his new lion friends, suddenly looking up to see them licking their lips. You see, I was sat with my friend Andrew who runs CrossFit Avon, Amelia (his wife – big Crossfit fan) and my husband Jim (recent convert). Although there was no overt demand that I should get CrossFitted, everyone in the room sensed the inevitability of the situation and I, like the gazelle that I am, spent the evening trying to find a CrossFit gym in Hampshire.
Then I became concerned – What if I hated it?? I’ve been very honest about my experiences so far but in a battle between blog integrity and the feelings of my friends there is a clear winner. And would I even manage to do the workout?? Andrew has talked about the possibility to scale activities for even the most unfit but has always emphasised it’s still hard work and Jim’s recent experiences have left me clear that an aerobics class this is not.
So, it was with some trepidation that I headed towards NMA Performance gym in Fareham. For the un-initiated, CrossFit is a fitness programme based upon short (typically between 5-20 minutes) high intensity workouts. The programme is designed to work multiple muscle groups and varies regularly so, unlike an aerobics class, you’re unlikely to find yourself doing the same thing twice in a row. After warming up, Matt (the trainer) told us our Workout of the Day (WOD) looked like this:
4 rounds for max reps:
40 seconds Kettlebell swings
20 seconds rest
40 seconds Ground to Overhead (Weightlifting)
20 seconds rest
40 seconds Double Unders (Skipping)
20 seconds rest
’40 seconds of each, 4 times’, I thought, ‘Maybe this won’t be as hard as I expected, after all – I am stronger than I look!’ and, indeed, the first run through was manageable. The kettlebell was heavy but I managed it, I lifted the barbell over my head, I skipped and, although tired, I felt alright. Then I went to lift the kettlebell again only to find it felt ten times heavier, and the barbell was seemingly stuck to the floor, and my legs refused to leave the ground to get over the skipping rope. Despite this, I kept going and (with Matt’s encouragement) completed my first ever WOD, without stopping and always at the highest intensity I could manage. When he said we were done I felt proud of myself and glad it was over in equal measure.
In fact, I was mentally congratulating myself on not being in a crumpled heap on the floor when I heard him say, ‘..and now for the bonus round!’. Wall balls, walking knee lunges and burpees followed and, although my muscles were shouting at me to have a lie down, I kept going and kept trying to do more. This from a girl who has been known to throw tantrums when asked to walk uphill. Maybe I am becoming (alpha)better?!
Did I enjoy it? I surprise even myself when I say that I did!! The workout was varied and interesting and, because you only did each thing for 40 seconds, it felt possible – even though my arms were burning I knew it was only a couple more lifts until a short break. There was a sense of camaraderie with the other WODers too – like we were overcoming an obstacle together. I definitely had more fun than I ever have in a gym session – and if the science it’s based on is correct it will have done me more good.
Conclusions? Crossfit left me tired and achy but, more than that (and unlike my other experiences so far) it also left me with a massive sense of accomplishment. This was absolutely something I couldn’t have done 6 months ago and definitely wouldn’t even have considered attempting. Maybe, just maybe, in 6 months time when I’ve completely alphabettered myself I might be ready for another session….. maybe…..