My first crossfit experience


Exactly 12 hours ago, I was pretty convinced I was about to heave up a lung. I was almost at the end of my first crossfit class and my lungs were not happy. Neither were my glutes or thighs, though no one else in the class seemed to be having their lives flashing before their eyes. The two flights of stairs down to the exit were a cruel, cruel joke. My legs seemed to not want to work any more – they were like, ‘This is payback for what you just did to us in there. You want to get the car so you can go home and weep? NEVER! You’ll be stuck in this gym for the REST OF YOUR LIFE!” Again, no one else seemed to be having this kind of tussle with their lower limbs, especially not the Nordic-god-esque Swedish guy who virtually glided out of the gym in a puff of Armani fragrance and extreme blondness.

This all took place at Black River Park Crossfit, the gym in the office block where I work. I discovered them some weeks ago, and since I usually have an hour to kill before work starts (due to a frustrating parking situation), I thought it’d be a good idea to use that time productively. I’d never tried crossfit before, though I was smugly certain that Jillian Michaels had prepared me for anything.

Er, no.

The gym offers a free ‘Launchpad’ week, consisting of three introductory crossfit classes. It’s compulsory for anyone who wants to join the gym and hasn’t done crossfit before. I was interested to learn that the aim of crossfit isn’t necessarily to be a standalone form of exercise, but to help improve your performance in the other sports you do. I once did two weeks of field hockey when I was 14, which has been the grand extent of my sporting career. I was also heartened to see, on the wall, a description of the ideal crossfit diet, which of course you probably know is basically paleo.

First… from the back

There were 8 of us and in general, the class went well. What (almost) killed me were the circuits – running, followed by push-ups, sit-ups and squats. My asthmatic, smoker’s lungs (don’t judge) really struggled with the sprinting parts – I’ve never been a great runner. However, I didn’t have any trouble with the sit-ups, and the push-ups were okay too. But those damn squats!

I know that crossfit isn’t a competition and everyone works at their own pace, but I hated being last in everything. I’m strong enough to do it but I’m slower than these lean, tall men. I really want to be that teen movie character who looks super cute in her gym outfit, and all the guys think ‘oh she’s just a girl, ha ha, she’s no match for us with her painted nails and coordinated outfit’ (as an aside, I wasn’t wearing a coordinated outfit but I did have very chipped gun-metal metallic polish on my nails). And then of course when it comes to the crunch, the girl kicks their butts and wins the trophy and goes home with the hottest girl on the cheerleading squad and the guys are shocked and amazed and super jealous.

But no. The reality was an entirely different beast. Like literally a beast. I was red-cheeked, huffing and puffing, and I was first from the back. It wasn’t a pretty sight. BUT I pushed through and finished everything, which I’m proud of.

Never. Getting up. Again

My muscles aren’t exactly excruciatingly painful today, but they feel quite jelly-like. I’m pretty convinced I’m walking funny. The best way I can describe it is that my thigh muscles feel ‘seize-y’. The next class is tonight, which I’ll be attending, and the last one is on Thursday. I’m not sure that crossfit is for me – to be honest, I don’t like working out among so many men – I just get shy and uncomfortable, which is ridiculous. That said, I saw the muscles on some of the ladies and – though I’m not one for hashtags – I immediately thought “#WANT”.

From zero to crossfit

Another reason I’m so glad I’m doing this Launchpad challenge is because K is also doing crossfit at the moment, in preparation for the Impi Challenge. Considering that, one month ago, the most exercise we were getting was getting out of bed in the mornings, this is a huge achievement for us. The other day a friend was saying to me that I don’t ‘have to worry’ about exercise because I’m not overweight – but that of course is missing the ENTIRE point of physical activity, and it actually made me feel more guilty for not working out more. So it’s definitely something I need to include back into my life. I used to be very dedicated to my Jillian Michaels workouts so that might be a great place to (re)start.

Either way, I still have 2 more crossfit sessions ahead of me, and who knows, maybe I’ll fall in love with it. The instructor is awesome and very encouraging. I know that when he’s looking at me, he’s thinking, “Shame”. That’s a real South Africanism and to understand what it means, read this or this. Basically, you never want someone to look at you with sympathy in their eyes and say, “Shame”.

However what actually comes out of his mouth is, “That’s awesome you’re doing great keep going well done that’s amazing you’re a hero you could rescue babies and puppies from burning buildings OMFG look how many sit-ups you’re doing in a row and you aren’t even holding your thighs I would also totally walk that last part of the sprint it’s actually so clever that you’re using it for recovery time the rest of the class is DUMB because the aim of crossfit is to come LAST and no it’s not a competition but YOU WON because of the fact that as I just said the aim is to come last and OMG you are AWESOME please show me that jog/drag/walk/crawl thing you just did I WANT TO LEARN IT because it is AMAZING.” Shame, he’s a very good actor.

Okay, I’m going in for round 2 today. Send good wishes! Send asthma pumps! Send in some back-up – I may need a stunt double for this.

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