The first place I went to was ‘Crossfit CBD’. This was on a hard-to-find rooftop in the city, allowing a maximum of sunburn, as well as ridicule from tradies having their perpetual cigarette break on a neighbouring roof. Whatever.
I only did a trial at this place and never came back as it was a bit far from where I lived. It was ridiculously intense for someone who never did much cardio – I remember some shoulder press, pullups, maybe some running up and down the stairs? My memory is hazy as this was several years ago now, but I do remember almost a week later I was still feeling that delicious aching in my muscles. I knew I’d had a serious workout.
Crossfit Moreland was the next stop, 6 months later. It’s located in Brunswick, not too far from Sydney Rd. This is run by a bloke called Ben Lustig. I believe he is also a qualified olympic coach which is in my opinion a better sign of competency than someone who just does the CrossFit course only. I see the crossfit coach ‘qualification’ as really just a signal that someone had a few thousand dollars spare to buy a license to print money, nothing more than a franchise fee. Anyway, Crossfit Moreland was quite big and rapidly expanding – it moved to a new ‘box’ while I trained there. There were several other trainers working there too, Dylan, Phil, with others undergoing instructor training when I left which speaks volumes as to the size of the place. Sessions would regularly have 12 people attending, with a waitlist – most other boxes seem to struggle with getting about 6-8 people at any given time. If I lived anywhere near I’d definitely still be going there.
Crossfit Moreland also promoted a ‘Paleo’ diet challenge while I was there. Paleo is often practised by crossfitters which while maybe not optimal (a big debate in itself), is a good baseline for people who have put no thought into dieting before and are overweight. It is supposed to mimic what cavemen ate, cutting out sugars, processed food, grains and dairy, while concentrating on meat, vegetables, nuts, seeds, minimal fruits. Of course, some hipsters take it to the extreme and virtually worship coconut oil, avocado, bacon and eggs.. not exactly what cavemen really had access to. But I still can’t fault a diet that is basically ‘stop eating the garbage that made you fat’, even if it has some flaws and costs a lot to keep on top of.
I took part in the strict Paleo challenge for 30 days. In that time I spent probably double my normal food bill, and lost 3kg. Of this, 1.5kg that was muscle unfortunately. But I did have visible abs showing though after that – proof it works!
After I moved (again, as one has to do a lot in Melbourne), I went to Crossfit Oakleigh. The owner/trainer here, Scott, is a competing Strongman, which had resulted in a Strongman angle to most of the workouts he programmed. In fact, the place was in the process of changing it’s name to Strong Melbourne while I was attending, so the Crossfit angle was only temporary.
He definitely knew his stuff, however it was a little too ‘strongman’ focussed for me. Strongman is those guys who lug around anvils and tractor tires and try to lift cars and so forth – but they also get fat along with that muscle due to just eating as much food as possible. Yes, it’s part diet that makes that happen, but I felt like the cardio part was often left until after the extremely heavy lifting, meaning one was already a bit too worn out to burn a lot of calories. Don’t get me wrong, I gained a lot of muscle in the few months I trained there, but it’s also the fattest I’ve ever been in my life. A desk job probably contributed to that as well though.
The client base was extremely small at Crossfit Oakleigh – some days I was the only one who showed up, and 3-4 people total was common. I believe he did a small recruitment drive as numbers were increasing around the time I left.
The most recent box, Crossfit Carnegie, I first visited today. I’ll wait before posting any opinion on it – a great first impression though!
The cult mentality of Crossfit is a bit odd and disconcerting – most people who stick around for a few months or more will almost always go on to obsessively research crossfit, eat Paleo despite there not being clear evidence that the majority NEED to cut out grains or dairy, and spend hundreds on Reebok branded crossfit shoes, those tight pants, and random straps for their wrists and legs. Really, I don’t see the need of drinking all the Kool-Aid when it comes to working out. I prefer to go in, do the workout, go home, and eat something which is nutritious. Living the whole crossfit life is a hobby of it’s own, but I really see it as a means of getting fit and getting out.
The cost of Crossfit is also very high. $45 per week is a lot of money, arguably it can be good value if you need a lot of correction to your form when working out though. I justify the cost as motivation – I’ll always push myself much harder if I’m doing it under someone’s guidance – and if I’m paying a premium I’ll turn up – I know this makes a difference from trying to go it alone for a few months.
I found the people involved with crossfit, despite being very culty, to always be friendly, helpful, and non judgemental. Also very supportive. In some cases I saw some people in very bad shape, who were given nothing but shouts of encouragement and words of advice from everyone to assist them in completing the WOD.
The main pro is it’s almost impossible not to get super fit. Some day I’ll get that six-pack back.
Disclaimer: The above experiences are personal anecdotes. None of the businesses listed were contacted regarding this article and no money has been accepted for any opinion. It is merely a summary of experiences from memory.