CrossFit is the word on every fitness fanatic’s lips. Matt Blackwell decided to try it for himself
Fitness suite that Revolution Group Exercise (RevGX) calls home – I have a panoramic view looking out over the white-washed villas of Azaiba. But there’s no time to admire the view for the dozen attendees of this Monday afternoon fitness class, who are pushing themselves with round after round of hand-release press ups, sit-ups, squats and shuttle runs until the sweat forms a glistening sheen on their skin. It’s a gruelling routine and, believe it or not, this is only the warm up. With the kind of intensity that can push even the fittest people to near breaking point, it can, of course, only be CrossFit. And it’s big news in Muscat. There’s a good chance you’ve heard the term before – it’s one of the buzzwords of the fitness world at the minute – but what actually is CrossFit? I put the question to personal trainer and the leader of this class, CrossFit Wadi, Lyle Foster. “CrossFit in essence is really the sport of fitness. It takes the many different elements of fitness – speed, power, strength, cardio endurance, stamina, flexibility – and trains them all as different disciplines.”
The concept was conceived in 2000 and has since made huge waves in the fitness community, who are renouncing hours spent slaving in the gym pumping out those five sets of 10 in favour of explosive workouts that mix Olympic weightlifting, plyometrics and gymnastics among others. “You’re training in so many different ways that your body doesn’t become accustomed to one thing,” says Lyle, adding that it is this element that is the key to success. With so many different aspects to the training, I’m assured that you could go six months to a year without coming across the same workout twice. “Basically, anything you can think of that requires some form of work capacity, we will utilise in training,” says Lyle.
Back in The Box, the warm up is over and it’s time for the real fun to begin. One of the first things that struck me about this place was how unlike a traditional gym it was. Gone are the rows of mirrors and machines. In their place, there is a large metal pull-up rig, a collection of Olympic barbells and piles of weight discs. With the exception of all but a handful of fitness aids, you are largely the equipment here.
The first thing the CrossFitters are tasked with doing is to find their strict press two-rep max. While this instruction may well have been issued in a foreign language for all the sense it made to me, the CrossFitters, all of whom have to go through a five-session foundation course to learn the basics of CrossFit technique, eagerly set about their challenge.
A wall-mounted flashing timer dictates every aspect of the CrossFit session and once this challenge is completed, it’s time to move on to the “Workout of the Day”. This is the part of the training that differs from session to session and today it’s AMRAP (which translates to “as many reps/rounds as possible”). Cleans – an Olympic lift – along with knees to elbows and handstand press-ups are the exercise of choice, with the CrossFitters starting with two reps of each and increasing to four, then six, then eight and so on, over the duration of 15 minutes.
While training at a traditional gym can at times be daunting, one of the things Lyle is keen to stress about CrossFit is the strong community element and competitive but friendly camaraderie. “I think everyone is naturally pretty competitive,” he says. “You train within a group so the person next to you is pushing you to go harder and you’re pushing yourself.” This is something that proved to be very true and shouts of encouragement filled the room.
As the timer ticks over to 15 minutes and Lyle calls time, several people collapse to the floor in exhaustion, but from the huge smiles on their faces you can tell that it was all worth it.
“I’m definitely fitter and stronger than I’ve ever been,” Lyle tells me before I leave. “And CrossFit is the vehicle that has gotten me there.” Maybe it can get you there, too.
To find out dates and times for the next CrossFit foundation course, give RevGX a call on +968 9781 4636
Search for CrossFit Wadi on Facebook and follow @CrossFit_Wadi on twitter www.revgx.com