CrossFit: the Sport of Fitness

When Jobst Olschewski from Cape CrossFit gym contacted Health24’s Fitness Editor, Amy Froneman to try out CrossFit for a few weeks, she didn’t quite know what she had let herself in for. That said, she is now a complete convert and speaks of little else.

CrossFit is unlike anything I have ever done before. It is hard to explain exactly what it is because it encompasses so much – which I know isn’t terribly helpful as far as explanations go, but perhaps the video below will demonstrate the reason CrossFit is impossible to categorise:

A few things come to mind watching that – not least of them being “RUN!” And to be honest, had I watched this video before I accepted Jobst’s offer to try out the gym, I might have been a lot less enthusiastic to sign up.

However, that would have been a grave mistake on my part as I would have missed out on one of the most intense, but amazing, fitness programmes I've ever been lucky enough to try out.
CrossFit, in my opinion, is without a doubt one of the best forms of training around. It is relatively new to the South African scene, which is why you may not have heard of it, but I am quite sure it won’t be long before it’s as big a phenomenon here as it is in the US.

That said, it’s not easy, and if you check out my blog posts posted throughout my eight weeks at CCF you’ll see that at times I was both physically and mentally pushed to the limit.

(Left: Push-ups are still not my favourite exercise, although I am getting better at them...I think..)

“The Sport of Fitness”

 Fitness allows you to live your best – this is the philosophy at CCF and after a mere eight weeks I can honestly say I feel like I am living my best.
Not only am I physically stronger because of some of the gruelling exercises, but I am also feeling healthier on the inside due to their recommended eating plan and weekly diet check-ins.
It has also contributed to my other training in ways I couldn’t have foreseen - such as increasing my fitness level so dramatically that I am stunned at how fast my heart-rate recovers after a run. Now within two minutes my heart rate is almost back to normal, and I am able to go for longer and push myself harder.
What makes CCF different

The first thing that strikes you when you walk into CCF is that it’s completely unlike any other mainstream gym. There is no treadmill, no exercise bike, and no ‘circuit’.

Instead there is a big open room with weights on one side, a few rowing machines on the other and a row of bars used for everything from pull-ups to ring rows to handstand push-ups.
Not only is their supposed ‘lack’ of regular gym equipment different, but their whole approach to fitness is quite different. They are more focused on functional fitness – that is being fit in a way that makes everyday life easier and more enjoyable.
They also make use of kettlebell training, Olympic weightlifting, power-lifting, gymnastics, dumbbell and medicine ball training, as well as running and rowing. And if that sounds a bit daunting don’t worry – you’re not alone.

I was terrified the first few times I heard ‘Olympic-this’ or ‘hand-stand-that’, but once you try it and, even more, once you get it right, there is no going back.
I am still a long way from my first pull-up and, despite the callouses on my hands which have fallen off, grown back, had a little party together and multiplied, I am still trying.

I will get it, eventually.

(Left: Jumping pull-ups: easier than real pull-ups but still incredibly tiring - especially after 50 of them.)
The workouts

A CCF class is also never predictable.  During my eight week programme, I went to the gym three times a week, and not once did I do the same class twice, but I was still able to measure my fitness and growing strength on a regular basis because of the different weights I could lift by the end of the challenge.
And since classes are generally, in my experience, small (no bigger than about 10 people per class), it really is like getting your own personal training.  The trainers, Jobst and Roland, are constantly watching your form and encouraging you to do things that your mind had already decided were impossible.
Turns out, my mind was often wrong.
The workouts were always challenging, and despite the fact that actual workout was often only about eight minutes long, it was often eight very intense minutes preceded by a good 43 minutes of weight-training or pull-ups, or some other exercise that took my comfort zone, spun it around a few times and threw it out the window.  

The results

Many people who read my blog updates during the challenge thought I was doing things only reserved for madmen or ridiculously fit athletes, but they are very much mistaken.

I am not an athlete, nor do I possess any superhuman strength, and while there are a lot of exercises I still battle with, CCF has given me the confidence and determination to keep at them till I get it right.
And I’m not the only one – there is a wide cross-section of people at CCF, from the young and fit to the older people who want to be strong and fit. Skinny, chubby, strong and weak, everyone who is at CCF made massive improvements in their fitness, physique and stamina in the short time that I was there.
As for me, I am astounded at the difference a mere eight weeks has made to my overall fitness. I can see and feel the difference in my body, which is all the proof I need that CCF works.

I have since joined the gym and am a complete CrossFit convert. I highly recommend this sport to anyone – from the couch-potato to the elite athlete, because it’s never too late to live your best.

If you want to try it out Cape CrossFit offers a complementary 'Intro Session' which is 60 minutes long and includes an introduction to CrossFit training as well as a work out.

Source: Cape CrossFit  where there are also links to the other CrossFit studios across the country.

CCF is also launching a Basics Course to cover the basic mobility drills and movements and a short workout to get used to CrossFit training overall. The course consists of a total of six sessions within two weeks and requires no membership.

(Amy Froneman, Health24, September 2010)

Read more on my Health24 blog:

CrossFit 1, FitnessEd 0
Oh my aching derriere
Fight Gone Bad challenge - take 1
Dude, I just bench-pressed Kate Moss
CrossFit Fight Gone Bad Challenge: the finale

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