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CrossFit Tough Takes

CrossFit Newbie: Interested but scared of CrossFit

Rowing gives your whole body a total cardio and muscular workout
Rowing gives your whole body a total cardio and muscular workout

“I’m interested in CrossFit, but I’m scared”

Many of my friends across the region have taken up CrossFit and seem to have found a new lease of their fitness life. Even though I’m a regular gym junkie, I still hadn’t forayed into a CrossFit box (gym) until last week.

Although I join Body Pump classes, with numerous weight plates, bars and barbells around the gym, I still felt intimidated walking into a CrossFit box. Perhaps, after watching the numerous CrossFit videos online, I’ve built this image that you’d find rough, tough, inked and big sized athletes lifting heavy weights and performing ‘acrobatic stunts’.

Great turnout to start the year at CrossFit Pahlawan's Open Day
Writer Jyn (front row in yellow) with other CrossFit newbies starting the year at CrossFit Pahlawan’s Open Day

When CrossFit Pahlawan held their Open Day recently, I took the opportunity to go with my loyal domestique, Richard. Having a buddy in tow makes it less intimidating, after all, misery loves company. He had a teaser into CrossFit and was inspired to return for another dose.

After a warmup session with various movements like burpees, bear crawl and lunges, we divided ourselves for the next 2 workouts. The coaches were good at demonstrating the movements, explaining the execution and giving alternatives if you could not complete the movement due to injury or other reasons.

Khai executing the Burpee Box Jump
Khai executing the Burpee Box Jump

My group started off the day with 150m on the rowing machine, followed by 10 thrusters for a duration of 15 minutes. We chose a partner and started the workout in a pair, and switch after you’ve finished a set. I can’t carry heavy weights with my sore knee, so I had to carry only the bar which weighs about 5kg. My partner Khai injured her shoulder recently and resorted to doing a squat with the bar instead.

Fortunately, I’m quite used to rowing so it wasn’t too tiring. Good ol’ days of Dragon Boat racing came back to mind.

I love how the rowing machine engages your legs, back, core and arms, delivering an intense cardio experience.

Best of all, it burns more calories than running and it doesn’t put as much stress on your knee and hip joints as running does. Perfect for people of all ages, sizes and abilities.

Getting the movements right on the classic CrossFit movement, the Thrusters is crucial for a good workout
Getting the movements right on the classic CrossFit movement, the Thrusters is crucial for a good workout

I was more interested in getting the form of the thrusters right as it was something new to me, like a combination of a squat and a overhead press.

This classic CrossFit movement, the thruster works all of the major muscles in your legs (glutes, hamstrings and quads) during the squat portion of the movement.

As you extend upwards, the energy transfers into your upper body and arms to perform the press. Even though I was not carrying heavy weights, it gave me a good cardio workout, increasing the heart rate exponentially and tested my muscle endurance.

After a short break, we switched to a more difficult workout for the next 15 minutes. This time, we started with Box Jump burpees, wall balls followed by Farmer’s Walk. I can handle burpees, but having to jump up on a 20 inch high box is scary for me. I didn’t manage to jump up either due to my sore knee, so I opted to step up instead. Not exactly the adrenaline boost I was looking for, but I’ll have to take that today. I’ve previously tried jumping up a step board, and 14 inches was all I could manage. I’ll make my way up slowly but surely.

Wall Balls squeezes and explosive throw out of you
Wall Balls squeezes an explosive throw out of you

Wall Balls sounds easier than it looks. Ladies had to squat and throw an 8 pound ball up or beyond the 9 foot line on the wall as you drive up and extend to a standing position. Caught the ball coming back down, and descended into the squat to repeat. The guys threw 14 pound balls to 10 feet in the same movement.

By the fourth throw, I had lost momentum and could only muster a poor throw and a good laugh. Gather yourself, I told myself!

Took a deep breath, and made a better throw on the fifth time.

I can imagine parents with kids using their kids as the ball, usually tossing them into the air for an added airlift and ‘wheeeeee’ effect. Who says CrossFit isn’t functional across your daily life?

Richard and Teng partner up for the Farmer's Walk
Richard and Teng partner up for the Farmer’s Walk

After both Khai and myself complete these movements, we headed for the Farmer’s Walk with 16kg kettle bells in each hand. We would rotate along the 320m walk, trying not to over stress her injured shoulder although she was fairing better than me and my sweaty palms which was losing grip.

This Farmer’s walk exercise may seem basic, but it’s the most “functional” exercise in strengthening your arms, back, shoulders, legs and core at the same time. After all, it boils down to basics and fundamentals to build a healthy and strong physique. Do not mess with farmers or gardeners, as they can take you down before you even know what hit you!

CrossFit Kettlebell

Even though today’s session was only 30 minutes of workouts, it was a blast indeed. Power packed punch like a ‘cili padi’ aka jalapeno, and I was flat out, done for the day. Knowing I burned more calories than a usual 1 hour cardio workout, I was pleased with myself and looked forward to my recovery meal.

The trick to CrossFit is to build up slowly, and not rush into carrying heavy weights with high repetitions.

The community which surrounds the sport is welcoming and encouraging. If you ever need a workout buddy, just holler and I’m sure someone would partner up with you for the workout of the day.I don’t fear CrossFit so much after today and I’ll be back for my next dose!

For more info, follow CrossFit Pahlawan on Facebook.

To view more photos, click on Tough Asia’s photo album here.

Jyn YeowMore about the author

Jyn Yeow loves exploring new ways to gain the adrenaline rush and can never sit still. #adrenalinejunkie Follow Jyn on Facebook or blog.