No. of Recommendations: 5
A vegan, atheist Crossfitter walks into a bar.
How do I know this?
Because it took only 2 minutes before he told everyone.

Hi All,

It's been a while since I posted regularly here. Some of you may remember when I used to run health clubs and personal training for a living. Look - > I even wrote the FAQ that appears up there in the right hand bar. I've been out of the fitness game for a while now, since switching careers to make a living from my writing. Since then I've done a little rock climbing and went for the occasional run, and even clocked a handful of sporadic visits to the gym, but most of my fitness for the last six years or so has been walking my dog.

Fast forward to 2016 and I've been sat at a desk for almost the entire time. This has not been good.

Last year I went to the USA to visit my sister who, to be frank, wasn't known for her love of exercise. Her love of coffee and wine, yes, but exercise was not on the menu. Turns out she'd been working out for the last year and was in pretty good shape. I was impressed and embarrassed, given my gradual decline in fitness. Having been the fit and buff brother of the family, I'd now been overtaken by my exercise-allergic sister. Something needed to be done.

So I called up a buddy of mine. G is a machine. We worked together back in my healthclub days and it was he that introduced me to rock climbing. I remember an occasion when we had descended a crag; G pulled me to one side.

"We need to talk about your balls, mate." he said
"EH?" I replied.
"Your balls, son. They're bigger than your brain and your ability. If you're going to get into this climbing thing, you need to keep 'em in check, or else you'll probably die."

Anyway, despite the 17 years since we started working in gyms together G, is still in good shape. He's 45 and looks like the cover of Men's Health magazine. So I asked him for his advice on how to get in shape at our age.

"Crossfit." came the reply.

"Crosssfit?" I asked "But aren't those people just a bunch of grunting and whooping egotists who are always getting injured?"

"Yes to the first bit, but the injury thing is just a myth. Crossfit is where it's at. Don't come back whining to me in a year or two if you join a globo-gym and make no progress. Crossfit."

So, I mentioned this to my sister who then reveals it is Crossfit that she's been doing for the last year or so. So I thought, if SHE can do it, then I can do it. I joined my local Crossfit 'box' and took the induction course. Now, you have to remember that I know my way around a gym. My sporadic recent visits to gyms confirmed that, for my age, I was still in good shape and could out-perform most of the other attendees. I knew the Crossfit class workouts would be tough, but I'd be OK, right?

I came last.
By a loooong way last.

Thankfully, I have thick enough skin to take it on the chin. Everyone else in the class was either 20 years my junior or had been doing Crossfit for a very long time. Everyone looked fit and, while the workouts are the toughest, most taxing workouts you'll ever do, every one of my fellow Crossfitters grunted and sweated and bled through them with determination I'd rarely seen in regular healthclubs. Indeed, one of the things that I've found about Crossfit workouts is that they go on for approximately 50% longer than you would if you worked out under your own steam in a gym. I'm used to working out. I'm used to working out hard. I'm used to working out until eyes bleed. But Crossfit workouts seem to continue long after I would have otherwise called it a 'good workout'.

And that never changes. I've been Crossfitting for about a year now and I'm still destroyed after each workout. I do 2 - 3 sessions per week and it's getting easier to recover, but each workout leaves me derelict. Spent. Finished.

I'm making progress too. At least I'm not last any more!

This might make it sound like Crossfit is only good for masochists who are already pretty fit, but that's not true. Each WOD (Workout Of the Day) can be scaled to your level of fitness. Whether you're 17 or 70, 10 stone or 30, or if you have been training for 10 years or just starting, you can do a Crossfit WOD. It will destroy you, no matter how fit or unfit you are - you can do a Crossfit WOD scaled to your ability. It will push you harder than you ever thought possible. It will push you to the point you thought you could not reach. It will destroy you. And you'll be so proud of yourself for doing it.

And that, my fellow fitness Fools, if the entire philosophy of Crossfit. It's not about your body, it's about your mind. It doesn't matter what you can or can't do now, it's about having the determination to keep going, keep working hard and never, never quit. Crossfit is not for quitters, the half hearted, the excuse mongers. Its for people who want to get fit and healthy. Crossfit will weed out those who do not have the determination. The state of your body is not a deal breaker, but your state of mind and your attitude will determine your progress.

Given the commitment levels necessary to stick with Crossfit, it's no wonder I was the back-marker at every WOD for almost a year. The quitters drop out early and you're left chasing the people who have stuck with it and made progress. The only reason I'm not last any more is because some new people have joined, and now they're chasing me. They think I'm the super fit-hyper dedicated Crossfit cult member they should use for inspiration. They think I'm in great shape for my age and they know that if I can do it, then so can they. They know that if they stick with it, they'll be in great shape too. And they're right. I've paid my dues and dialed in the sessions, and I'm making good progress. And so will they, if they commit to the WOD in the same way.

But remember, no matter how much you train, how hard you work, how fit you get - the Crossfit WOD will always destroy you. After each workout I collapse on the floor alongside one of the UK's top Crossfit Games competitors - equally spent, equally derelict and equally accomplished. We're there together, and we both worked as hard as we possibly could. Our achievements are the same.

And that's why Crossfit works, for everyone. That's why I love it. That's why, at the age of 44, I'm approaching the best shape of my life. I could teach my 25 year old gym-bunny self a thing or two.


I'm sorry to say that much of the conventional wisdom of the time was flawed, inefective and potentially harmful.
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