Tuesday, December 6, 2022

My First CrossFit Competition and I…it


What is CrossFit?

‘Functional fitness’, (but let’s call it for what it is, CrossFit) to the unfamiliar spectator, is a load of pumped up, minimally clothed, weight dropping-gym bunnies, that use scarily bad technique, to perform exercises. 

Being an exercise professional for over 16 years, that’s exactly what I saw when I looked at CrossFit. It used to make me cringe, seeing some of the shocking ‘technique’ being used and the ‘hoo-rah’ shouting hype.  I even call it ‘CrossFad’.

A problem with Personal Trainers/Coaches is, they can tend to be snobs; in that generally speaking, whatever the professional’s view/opinion in the industry, that is the right and only way.  I have even been guilty of this in the past.

If you ask CrossFit what CrossFit is, they would say “ CrossFit can be used to accomplish any goal, from improved health to weight loss to better performance. From general fitness to sport-specific training, there is no better program out there.”

I used to poo-poo CrossFit and about two years ago I thought I’d give CrossFit a go and joined my local ‘box’ (CrossFit affiliated gym).  I lasted about a month before my spine said ‘no’ and seized up, providing me with the confirmation I needed, to conclude that CrossFit was a load of shit and bad for the body.

That being said, I have always admired CrossFit for what it has done for the health and fitness industry; making weightlifting and gymnastics more common, adding variety to exercise to the general public, producing a way of making fitness a sport, and most impressively, building a community and belonging for people.

So why the sudden interest?

Myself and a fellow colleague of mine (Harry Cochrane), both have similar reservations about CrossFit, but also love some of the elements involved.  We confidently believe, we are as fit as most regular CrossFit athletes, including some of the ones that use ‘special supplements’.
So when we saw a local pairs competition, or ‘throwdown’, we thought “fuck it, let’s have a crack”. 

The competition 

After entering four weeks before the event, the workouts were released one at a time, week after week, so four workouts in total, to be held over two days. 

The higher place you finish in each event, the lower your score. The total of that score over the four events, gives the place you finish on the leader board.  

So suppose you finish first on each event, that would be a total score of 4 points.  If you finished second on each event, the total score would be 8 and you would’ve come in second place overall. Capeesh.

First event 

14 min time cap
Check in - 1km row (split however)
Remaining time, As Many Rounds As Possible (AMRAP)
50 single dumbbell snatches (split)
15 burpee box jumps, in sync 

We came fourth on this one, not realising that arms on the thigh for snatches, count as ‘no reps’. That was seven times for me-sorry Harry. We also went hell-for-leather on the burpees, choosing to be more explosive and not realising this was inefficient, rather than stepping forwards and stepping off the box.  But hey.

Second event 

7 min time cap, in sync 
20 power cleans 60kg
20 power cleans 80kg
20 power cleans 100kg

(We came second, with 8 reps of the 100kg, x1 rep behind the 1st place holders)

At the end of day one, we were joint top of the table with six points. Other teams had for example 1st and 5th place (six points), 3rd and 3rd place (6 points), 

After day one, we were buzzing. Here we were, two skinny CrossFit amateurs turning up relatively last minute and keeping up with the best of’em. 

Honestly though, it was flipping hard work.  After the first event, we both were throwing up outside and my head was pounding for a good 20 minutes after.  In 22 years of high intensity training and ultra endurance challenges, I’ve never been sick from exercise. 

We were pretty giddy and excited about the next day, as we believed we stood a good chance of having a place on the podium.  However, we knew the third workout would make or break us…

Third workout 

9 minute time cap
30 (split between us) 100kg back squats
20 synchronised toes to bar (TTB) 
24 (split) 80kg front squats 
20 synchronised TTB
18 overhead squats 60kg

The boys we were up against were big boys and obviously had the technical advantage on the TTBs, because frankly, we were shite! We just couldn’t get in sync.  It was crushing watching the other teams pull away from us, while we were struggling with a simple timing issue.  

We had planned that I would do the majority of the overhead squats and Harry would take the brunt of the work on the front squats, but we hadn’t anticipated how long we’d be hanging from the bar on the TTBs, so my shoulders were shot, and lost the endurance to keep the weight over my head.
With 4 reps to go, I just couldn’t find the stability in my left shoulder and we ended up in-completing the workout. We went from joint first to seventh-gutting.

Fourth workout 

7 minute time cap
50 cals each Ski Erg
30 (split) chest to bars (CTB)
10 synchronised 60kg dead ball cleans to shoulder

We were like “fuck this, we’re going out on a shield here”.  We knew had the fitness to smash the 50 calories on the ski Erg, so we knew we had the advantage there. The thing that was going to slow down was the most was, the (bastard) chest to bars.

Now, CTBs can be interpreted in different ways.  Outside the CrossFit community, it would seem that a CTB would be a shite pull up.   But in CrossFit you can either ‘Kip’ or ‘butterfly’, and basically they both save a shit-load of time. 
We can sort of do the butterfly’s between us, which saved us some time, but the more experienced guys, were whipping out the butterfly’s one-per-second, it’s ridiculous.   

The time we got ahead on the Ski Ergs, (a good 20 seconds or so) was barely advantageous, as the other boys were catching up on the CTBs. We were like “what-the-fuck!”.  We ended up getting another 4th place finish, un-believe-able.

At the end of the event we finished joint fourth, and by all means quite a respectable fourth place too.  All things considered, it was out first competition and Harry could barely get out of bed the week leading to the event, where he was ill.

Without doubt, that was the hardest I ever pushed my body in a short period of time before, and it fucked me for a good five days after.  It in fact, felt like I’d just done one of my ultras, my nervous system was completely fried. 

My first CrossFit competition and I…

Friggin loved it.  It was sooo much fun. It felt like everyone was behind us all the way, as there was a great crowd-I mean, even from Mobilius, (the gym that was hosting the event). Considering we were ‘outsiders’, we felt no hostility and extremely welcome and supported, certainly an ode to Mobilius and the sport of CrossFit.

So now it has given me a bit of itch I have to say, it definitely won’t be the last time either of us participate in the world of CrossFit. I certainly want to get a grasp on these ‘butterfly’s’,  build up my strength and improve my weightlifting. 

If we had the ‘CrossFit skills’, we deffo would’ve had a podium spot, but I suppose that’s the beauty of the sport of CrossFit.

Am I a cross fitter now? Nope.  But I have already signed up for the CrossFit open in February, so stay tuned for that.   As with all the elements of the health-well being and fitness industry, a little bit from here and there, won’t do you any harm.

Keep it real folks.

If you’re wanting to take part in any physically demanding challenges, no matter what your starting point is, reach out and let’s see what need to do to, to get you smashing some life goals. 
WhatsApp +65 88145641

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