I get asked to road test a lot of things for this blog. I usually say no unless it’s something I am genuinely interested in or think that I would probably do anyway. So, when ex-rugby player and UFIT gym co-owner James Forrester asked if I’d like to try out CrossFit for a month, I was torn. It was definitely not something I’d naturally rush to sign up as it sounds petrifying; besides, would I even last a month? (A note to the uninitiated: CrossFit is a strength and conditioning program for many police academies and tactical operations teams, military special operations units, champion martial artists, and hundreds of other elite and professional athletes worldwide – say no more.)
Well out of my comfort zone, even just getting dressed, I donned my dog-eaten (literally, I’m afraid) trainers and some other slightly too-tight sports clothes from the bottom of my draw and off I went. Before I could really think about it too much.
There are a few things you should know about me before I continue: I have this terrible habit when I exercise; it doesn’t seem to matter what time of day it is, but I yawn. A lot. Partly because I feel genuinely exhausted, but also in part because I am bored and loathe being there. Some nice trainer once told me this was due to being so out of puff that my brain lacked oxygen and yawning is an efficient way to top up. I like that reason. But secretly, I think it’s because enforced exercise IS just such a yawn-inducing bore.
Another thing is that I start to feel cross. Just when everything was getting really hard, I started to feel pissed off. I felt furious to be there and furious I was so hot and couldn’t do half the exercises. Perhaps that’s why it’s called CrossFit? (Good name in that case).
Week two slipped by (still quite cross) and I allowed myself to play a game. I’d sit in my car before the class began and really, really hope that the session had been cancelled because no one else had turned up. I could then go home and read a book, and feel virtuous for at least trying to work out. Anyone ever done the same?
Week 3 dawned and I accepted my fate. Monday morning is CrossFit. So is Wednesday morning. I know I won’t want to go, I will try to do a bunch of things when I am there that will be hard, and I will cheat a bit on the amount of reps required (really worth doing by the way, otherwise I don’t think I could drive home afterwards).
Week 4 is here. I would not say I am looking forward to going to CrossFit, but neither do I dread it. I am still doing rather ‘looser’ adapted exercises (along with one other poor soul in my class who joins me for them; I am rather pleased to have a partner). I am the most uncompetitive person in the world and I couldn’t care less that someone may be doing five push-ups to my one (OK, half push-up, let’s be honest). In fact I feel bad for them to be having to do quite so much.
CrossFit is run by the lovely Gemma Staveley, a no-nonsense Brit. She entertains my ‘Kevin the Teenager’ episodes whilst gently encouraging and motivating. I don’t know how she does it. I love her. I am continuing CrossFit classes even after my one month trial but I may drop down to just one session a week (even though it’s the same price for two or more). If you are thinking of joining, I’d start with the women’s only class because it’s A/ hard enough B/ it’s a really nice community of people, all of whom come every single week and you won’t feel like an outsider for long. They are even quite nice to me. C/ If you’re worried you can’t do it – come and find me, cross and sweaty in the corner, and I can be your partner.
WARNING: Do not attempt any exercise unless you are watching what you eat. To do would be like trying to bail a sinking boat out using only a teaspoon.
To sign up, email Gemma at: firstname.lastname@example.org