CrossFit seems to be synonymous with the word cult these days and there are many different opinions on the workout.
My friend Jess has been an avid CrossFit goer for the last year or so and the results are undeniable. Her whole body shape changed in the space of a couple of months and she put it all down to CrossFit. Many conversations consisted of her trying to explain CrossFit to me, telling me she “smashed Diane last night”. All this did was confuse me further. Who was Diane and why was she smashing my friend? We were travelling in Thailand over the summer for 6 weeks and after weeks of frustration, Jess managed to find a CrossFit gym on Koh Tao Island and insisted on going. This seemed very normal to her and the trainer welcomed her as if she was a lost child returning home. I, being a CrossFit virgin was not allowed attend the class as it was an advanced one and I would need to attend an induction first. I’ll be honest in saying I didn’t put up too much of a fight at the time and went to the beach, but her commitment and drive did leave me curious. On returning home from my travels everyone seemed to be harping on about CrossFit ,not just meatheads and jocks, girls from school and people from work were talking about it too. After getting a bit bored of my own workout routine I decided to look into it.
So What is CrossFit and who does it?
CrossFit is a strength an conditioning program that is defined on the official website as being “broad, general, and inclusive”. It is a 1 hour class combining weight training with strength, gymnastics, sport and cardio. Leaving class you will have worked nearly every muscle in your body. The programme is designed for “universal scalability” meaning that the programme is the same for everyone, from a top class athlete to an elderly person trying to improve their health, the program remains the same but the weight/intensity is changeable
CrossFit 353 is a gym in Ballsbridge, Dublin set up by Peter Burke and Gary Fetherstone who have a passion for fitness and well-being. In August this year both Gary and Peter quit their jobs in order to open CrossFit 353. They run 2 classes a night 5 nights a week (Mon-Fri), with the help of trainer Royce Burke Flynn. Open for just under 5 months the boys have full classes every night with people fighting for places each week. The training provided is top class from 3 former rugby players who have been weight training since they could walk. Each of the three trainers have different strengths and they design the class to capitalise on this. The training is focused, hardcore and rewarding. The progress made from class to class, with the trainers help, is more than I have seen from my 3 years in and out of various gyms. The class environment is very welcoming and encouraging for newcomers. The boys make sure you are well trained in the basic movements before moving on to and more complicated moves. There is great craic between the class yet you always get the work done and done well.
Where? St. Michael’s College, Ballsbridge
How much? €70 for 2 classes a week for a month, €58 for students (€7.25 a class), Other prices & Contact info can by found on their website at the end.
The class has a very particular format that I had never done before. The first 20 minutes is called the “warm up” and may be the bulk of many girls workouts elsewhere. Each class it is different, it could be a variety of exercises with little weight just to get you going, or group games which can be very fun. The second part of the class is where you focus on skill and strength work such as dead-lifts, pull ups, chin ups, etc.. The third and final part of the class is called the ‘WOD” – Workout of the day. This is a high intensity 20 minutes where you are bringing together all you have focused on in the class. Today for instance the WOD for a 400m run outside followed by sets of 21,12, 9, kettlebelll swings, box jumps and press ups, finished by another 400m run. Some WODs are tougher than other but it’s all doable once you get your mindset right. Crossfit seems to be as much about mindsight and mental well being as it is about physical ability. It does help having a Viking behind you shouting encouragement and reassurance to keep you going.
My first class was a bit of a blur as everything was so new. I came with a friend and we did the warm up with everyone which consisted of air squats and some kettle bell exercises. When we moved on to the “skill” section, Royce stayed with myself and Bridget and taught us the olympic deadllift technique. We were only allowed use a lightweight bar to practice our technique. We watched in awe as some of the girls were cleaning 50-60kg lifts. Next was the WOD which was called “Karen”. Karen was a bitch?! This WOD consisted of 150 wall ball throws with a 10 pound ball for the females and 20 for the males. Safe to say I was walking like this the next day.
The next 2 classes I started to get the hang of things. Although my technique was no where near perfect I was definitely progressing in exercises. For the women when doing chin ups and press ups you can use bands to aid you. There are 3 bands green (easiest), then purple and then red. By the third class I was able to use the purple/red bands for most exercises which was huge progression from my 1st class. Also by the third class I got up to 65kg for my deadlift which was the most I’ve ever done. It was very rewarding seeing these results from such a short space of time.
What makes CrossFit different from a regular workout?
What sets CrossFit apart from the rest is the competitive and community aspect to the class. CrossFit is the sport of the exercise world in that the ethos of the programme is team spirit and competitive drive which isn’t common in other strength and weightlifting programmes. People see CrossFit as a lifestyle rather than just a workout and many people meet a whole new group of friends here.
Why I loved it
What I loved about CrossFit 353 was the mixed aspect to the class, I mean that in the sense of gender. I hate going to the gym and being looked at with 10 heads when I enter the “mens” weights area. It seems ridiculous that the areas are even separated with most women’s sections consisting of shitty machines and weights my cat could lift. CrossFit is a community where you are working with a group of people all at different levels, ability, ages, sexes, training for different reasons but all doing the same thing. It’s incredibily unifying. I also loved how varied the class was and how challenging it was at times.
Is CrossFit for you?
CrossFit at the moment seems to be a very black or white thing. People are either obsessed with it or completely against the concept. Even trainer Royce said he had his doubts at the beginning. Coming from years of weight training a particular way he found it difficult to be open to a new form of training. He said he can completely see why people are judgemental about CrossFit at the start, especially those who go to the gym purely for physical and aesthetic results. He urges people, “don’t knock it till you’ve tried it”. I’m a huge believer in try everything once and would encourage everyone to try CrossFIt even if it’s only once, just to experience a different workout and see if you like it. I absolutely love the classes and I will most certainly be going to 2 a week for the foreseeable future, but it is not the be all and end all, I will be keeping my old workout as a cheeky bit on the side along with hockey and hikes, but for now CrossFit is my main man. If you have a passion for fitness, competition, well being and serious results then cross fit is for you. If you enjoy going to the gym as a solo activity with your earphones in moseying through your sets and exercises and not majorly concerned with an all round fitness, then CrossFit probably isn’t for you.
Before and after shots
Recently CrossFit 353 has joined forces with Dearbhla Gavin, a Trinity student who is passionate about yoga. Dearbhla is teaching yoga every Thursday at 6pm before CrossFit in St. Michael’s College for charity. All Donations go to Temple st. Children’s hospital as part of the 100 minds mission. Dearbhla hopes to raise money for the cause by doing something that she loves. She embraced the idea of teaching the CrossFit boys yoga and commented “Some of these jocks can’t touch their toes, I have my work cut out for me”. The classes have been full so far and the CrossFit class are loving it. It is the perfect activity to team with CrossFit as it relaxes the mind and works on strengthening the muscles in a completely different way as well as improving flexibility which is hugely useful in CrossFIt. I absolutely love yoga and what it does to your body.All info is below!
- Push it to the limit with CrossFit (downtowncoremag.com)