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Trying out Crossfit in the Melbourne suburbs (Part 1)

From the moment I heard about it, I’d always been interested in the so called ‘sport’ of Crossfit – perhaps more a morbid curiosity than anything. People always seem highly polarised and either love it or hate it, to the point of outright rage or cult-like support.
On one end of that spectrum you’ll hear

‘How do you know someone does crossfit? Don’t worry, they’ll f*cking tell you!’

And on the other hand, everyone knows ‘THAT’ person who posts an instagram filtered photo of a barbell at 6am as though all their friends care. Don’t forget the followup photo of chicken and avocado, also carefully filtered. #paleo #cleaneating #crossfit. The law says that any workout is null and void without a photo, right?

I’ve worked out in gyms, on and off, for several years. Initially with friends, none of us with much idea what we were doing, still managing to put on a bit of muscle here and there. We gradually learned a bit more over time, but staying motivated and thus making consistent progress was the hard part.
After I moved to Melbourne from Adelaide, it was time to try it out due to the high frequency of crossfit ‘boxes’ (this is what they call their gyms, which are usually an old warehouse or one of those suites in an industrial park with a roller door). There seems to be one in every suburb without fail, all for the extraordinarily expensive price of about $180 per month.
What is it, anyway? They describe it on the official website as follows:

“Our program delivers a fitness that is, by design, broad, general, and inclusive. Our specialty is not specializing. Combat, survival, many sports, and life reward this kind of fitness and, on average, punish the specialist.”

It uses barbells with olympic lifts, bodyweight exercises like pushups, cardio such as rowing and running, kettlebell movements, and gymnasium style exercises like pullups and muscle-ups.
If you head to youtube and search for crossfit, the first thing you’ll find is all these ‘fail’ videos like the following: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T74Xek-pDLM
The thing about Crossfit is it uses a whole lot of fairly advanced movements, so this is where the (very real) danger lies. Coupled with the very short weekend course that qualifies one to be a trainer, it can’t be guaranteed that any trainee under them is going to be doing things properly, or more importantly, knows when to stop. There is also a mentality amongst the more hardcore crossfitters that you have to push yourself extremely hard – sometimes to the point of injury or damage – to get the most out of it.
Still, the movements and exercises in crossfit are the kind of thing that anyone might do in some form or another while trying to get fit or gain muscle. None of it is really mystical or different, it’s just a bit of everything thrown together.
I’ve been to 4 crossfit ‘boxes’ in the Melbourne suburbs, in the next post I’ll talk about the overall experience of Crossfit in various suburbs of Melbourne, and some specifics about each ‘box’.

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