Guaranteed no more wandering around the gym, and it’ll revolutionise your fitness! 

Author: Anne Thomas from Anne Thomas Photography

If you google CrossFit, you’ll find images of men and women lifting heavy weights and displaying muscles like you’ve never seen before. When my daughter signed me up for it, I’d already decided it wouldn’t work and arrived somewhat sceptical of my first session.

Two and a half years later, it’s been the best thing I’ve done for my physical and mental fitness.

So, what is CrossFit?

First, let me tell you what it’s not. CrossFit premises are not nice air-conditioned gyms with all the mod cons. CrossFit branding seems to encourage premises which are rough around the edges and tend to be on industrial estates or similar – so, if you’re after a little bit of a luxury experience, you’ll be disappointed.

“Walking out of B&Q with that huge compost bag in my arms and not having to look for someone to carry it for me”

But that’s not why you do CrossFit.

CrossFit, in my opinion, is the ultimate form of movement to achieving the fittest physical and mental state you’ll ever achieve, because it’s based on strength, flexibility, endurance, speed, agility, balance, accuracy and co-ordination. This is achieved through a series of movements and lifts that are coached and scaled.

Coached and scaled

What does this mean? I’ve spent years walking around gyms with a program in my hand and earplugs plugged in. Sometimes you need to wait for a piece of equipment to be free, so you move on to the next piece until that happens, and then go back to it – or sometimes you just forget.

The running machine was always great because you could watch the tv and zone out for 10 minutes or so, same for the bike and cross trainer – but unless you’ve got a personal trainer, the gym experience is based on self-motivation. And that’s fine if you’ve got the drive to do that, it’s just not for me now.

“Getting off the sofa in one movement”

The CrossFit experience is like nothing else. You book the hour and you’re part of a small group working on movements in a coached environment. Your coach is there watching and coaching to ensure you’re moving/lifting correctly to avoid injury and promote efficiency, strength, and fitness.

And this is the thing, every movement is scalable – which means that you can do every movement no matter what your ability, age or fitness level – it doesn’t matter, there’ll be a movement there for you.

Why does CrossFit work so well?

Our fitness levels differ and we all have different reasons for wanting to improve it. For me, it’s all about the quality of everyday life.

  • Running around the park with my grandchildren without giving that movement or speed a second thought
  • Getting off the sofa in one movement
  • Getting up and down to that kitchen cupboard and reaching to the back of it with ease
  • Walking out of B&Q with that huge compost bag in my arms and not having to look for someone to carry it for me

The list is endless, but it’s about everyday movements that we should be able to do without giving them a second thought – and it’s CrossFit that enables me to do that.

My greatest achievements

There’s nothing like achieving something that you thought you’d never be able to do – and there have been three big achievements for me in my two and a half years of CrossFit.

1. The box jump:

The CrossFit standard for women is 20” – I’ll never do that, was my first thought. But as with all movements, it’s scalable. So, I started with a 2” plate (those are the large circular weights that go on the end of the barbells), and with every confident jump on and off, I put another plate on top – and kept going. It took 12 months, but I reached that 20” box jump and it was surely the best feeling ever!

2. The handstand:

I haven’t done a handstand since primary school, and I walked into the box one day, and there on the board were handstand movements. No, I won’t be able to do that, I told the coach. The coach must hear this sentence so many times, but in his usual calm way, he responded with ‘that’s fine, don’t worry’.

“Thirty minutes later – my first handstand since primary school! BOOM!”

3. The CrossFit Open:

This is an annual worldwide competition for all Crossfitters to enter regardless of age or fitness ability. It’s a 5-week challenge, and each week, a new WOD (workout of the day) is posted online for everyone to do.

So, I entered the 2019 Open. Even though I did the scaled version of the WOD each week, it was hard, it was exhausting and I was pushed to limits that I didn’t know I had. At the end of each WOD, I entered my score online and watched the leaderboard with baited breathe to see where my position was.

I also discovered that there’s a competitive side to me which quietly surfaced during these 5 weeks. Five WODs later and the final scores were posted online for the world to see, and to my utter surprise, I was placed 3rd position in the UK for my age category. To say I was stunned would be an understatement!

“Running around the park with my grandchildren without giving that movement or speed a second thought”

My advice to you?

Don’t hold back from doing something that you think is unachievable – it’s definitely achievable on some scale – and that’s what CrossFit has taught me. Nothing is impossible – there’s something there for all of us.

Go and find your nearest CrossFit box and sign up for the initial 6-week foundation course – it’ll change your life, and I don’t say that lightly!

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