When I started at Crossfit852, one of the trainers, Tracy Shek, said I was like Bambi. I like to think she meant doe-eyed and cute, but the reality was, I had no idea what I was doing. As Tracy put it, I “could barely do a pull up even with the band with the most support. You’ve definitely come a long way over the past couple of weeks.” I certainly have, but the journey has been tough and sweaty.
Crossfit is a combination of weight lifting, cardio and gymnastics. This means that I attempted (and attempted being the key word here) everything from handstand push-ups to sumo deadlifts.
The workouts consist of a dynamic warm up, part A and part B. Part A is focused on skill and strength work. Part B is the Workout of the Day (WOD) and the goal is to complete a certain number of exercises as quickly as possible, or finish as many exercises as possible within a time limit. Part B is gruelling but amazing. When you’re racing against yourself and the clock, there’s no buzz quite like finally yelling “Time!” once you have completed 90 burpees, 90 kettle bell goblets, 60 kettle bell swings and 30 kettle bell snatches (in 21 mins 23 seconds).
Other than the part A and B structure, there is no typical day at Crossfit852, and that’s exactly why I loved it. For someone who bores easily with repetitive routines, crossfit was perfect for me. Each session, I knew I would be doing something completely different from the previous day – one day it might be power cleans and pull-ups and the next it could be snatches and kettle bell swings.
Before starting crossfit I thought a power clean was something I did once a week to tidy up my floor-wardrobe. Cleans and snatches are weight-lifting techniques, and although at first I was really nervous about trying any sort of weightlifting (my upper body strength is equivalent to that of a penguin), once the trainers show you the techniques, they are pretty easy to understand. Because crossfit is all about modifying to your ability, I could adjust the workout so that the weights were light enough even for my twig arms.
It might sound a little intimidating, but it really isn’t like that. As trainer Sophie Scholz points out: “There’s a common misconception that you have to be super fit to start crossfit, but that’s not true at all. Everything is totally modifiable and adjusted to everyone’s own level.” All of the trainers I worked with at Crossfit852 were really supportive, and were quick to suggest how I could modify or scale down the exercises to my level, which was particularly helpful during my first few sessions when I was still working on my technique.
During a Crossfit852 workout, you are pushed as hard as if you are in a personal training session, but with the team spirit and motivation of a group class. As Tracy explains: “Even though it’s still competitive, everyone wants to see and bring out the best from each other. It’s often said that the person who finishes last gets the most cheers – and it’s completely true. It’s motivation like this that allows athletes to really be able to push past boundaries – both physically and mentally – and achieve goals that they never thought they were capable of.”
The workouts were tough, but I loved the intense training and the fact that everyone was so friendly and down to earth. The days after a workout my muscles felt sore, which I knew was a sign that my body was changing. What I didn’t realise though, was how fast and how drastic those changes would be.
At my final body scan just four weeks after starting crossfit, my results really surprised me. After re-calculating several times to check it wasn't a mistake, I realised that fat in both of my arms is down 16 per cent. I didn't even think I had 16 per cent of anything in my arms. Along with my fat mass dropping, my muscle mass is up, and my metabolic age has dropped four years. I lost 2.3kg of fat, and gained 2.2kg of muscle. And that was without making any major changes to my diet. I’m sure most people would agree that those are pretty incredible changes.
It’s clichéd to say, “I couldn’t have done it without you guys”, but I literally could not have achieved anything without the Crossfit852 trainers. As trainer Bernard Chau explains, “Crossfit trainers are more than just a person who tells you what to do and leaves you to it, in most cases you’ll develop a bond with your crossfit coaches and they become not only your friend, but also part of your crossfit family. At 852, we are such a close knit crew.” Particularly when it came to weightlifting and technique, the Crossfit852 team’s incredible knowledge, helpfulness, and patience really made the experience for me – without them it just wouldn’t be crossfit. If that makes it a strange cult-like community, consider me officially converted.