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Crossfit: The Toughest Workout?

L'Oréal Blackett is now a lady who lifts...

Written by . Published on January 17th 2014.

Crossfit: The Toughest Workout?

DON’T let the picture deceive you, before that moment the most I had regularly lifted was a digestive biscuit towards my mouth.

Outside you can hear the cling-clang of chains and the boom of heavy weights colliding with the floor. To top it all off you can hear the screams from some pre Linkin Park heavy metal. It all becomes scarily evident that what you’re about to go through will hurt.

Not that I am one to shy away from working out, I regularly run, dance and have tried various gym programs, it’s just I seem to vere towards the prissy cardio exercise classes like, sorry to say it, Zumba.

I have never been a girl who lifts weights.

Until Crossfit, that is.                                           

Crossfit is deemed as an ‘extreme workout’.

One of the many exercise trends to emerge from the US, Crossfit is a punishing high intensity class, consisting of a gruelling combination of body conditioning, gymnastics and weight training designed to ‘prepare you for the unknown’. Championed by fit celebs such as Jessica Biel, Channing Tatum and Matt Damon, it has quickly become known to transform your body into a well oiled, ‘eat your dinner off my abs’ svelte machine.

Despite it being hailed as one of the most ‘brutal’ exercise regimes, Crossfit has grown in following and it’s estimated thousands have dared to join the movement.  

So it’s tough, aren’t most workouts designed to be?

The answer, I’d soon find, is that Crossfit is one of the toughest workouts out there.

Approaching Crossfit Central for the first time is unnerving, to say the least. Based in Red Bank, Green Quarter, outside you can hear the cling-clang of chains and the boom of heavy weights colliding with the floor. To top it all off you can hear the screams from some pre-Linkin Park heavy metal. It all becomes scarily evident that what you’re about to go through will hurt.

Img_5464 - CopyPreparing for the toughest workout I've ever faced

Once inside the fear doesn’t dissipate. The gym is cold and a small group of men and women circulate around boot–camp-like apparatus with an unwavering focus. Split into teams, partners motivate each other to push out another rep as a drill sergeant character shouts out instructions.

It all feels like they’re training for war or at the very least, a World's Strongest Man competition.

Img_5467Preparing for war?

Meeting the owner of Crossfit CentralImg_5475Melisssa, Crossfit Central, Melissa, I was immediately put at ease. She’s tiny, bubbly with an infectious smile and warm energy. At first introductions, it’s hard to think that this girl can lift, run and squat with the best of them. But that she definitely does. She notes that the heaviest she’s lifted is 80kg.

Opening the centre in 2008 with her partner Simon, she swears that Crossfit is more of a sport and a community than just another exercise class. Members complete a high energy circuit that include box jumps, pullups, kettlebell swings, ‘wallballs’ using a 20-pound ball, burpees (dropping all the way to the floor) and more. All this training can lead to competing in the Crossfit Games. Hence the focus in the room.

Taking me and a large group of sheepish newbies, we warmed up by running outside. Typically, it was raining, but this was just the start.

Over an hour, we were shown a range of basic Crossfit techniques; primarily focusing on squats as soon, this would be the position that would help drive a bar of weights over our heads. Did you know there are three types of squats? No? Me neither. Perfecting the various squats took a number of tries, leaving my thighs screaming for salvation.

Img_5472Squatting for dear life.


You want to stop, but there’s an unspoken peer pressure of not wanting to be the runt of the group. Added to this with the threat of Melissa’s “motivational consequences” to keep you pushing through the pain.

Alternating through squats, we learned the burpees, a horrendous technique that sees you jumping down into a press up, face on the floor and jumping back up. Repeat. It’s tiring - the type of tired that sees you grab your hips and inhale maniacally for air.

After all the technique training, it was time to workout. As apparently, we weren’t doing that already.

For the first class we were given a simple enough exercise that sees you throwing and catching a ball against the wall ('wallball’) while squatting and then going into the burpees. For 5 minutes. Easy enough?

You know the answer.

Img_5476GO TEAM!

We were encouraged to high five our partners as we alternated between wallball and squats. In short, I sucked. 5 minutes felt like 5 days, and it was scary to think that this was only a very small example of a full Crossfit class. 

The prospect of lifting is what scared me most. It was something I had avoided primarily as I had the common fear of not wanting to be built like rugby player. Melissa knows that fear all too well.

“I have to use myself as an example - I’ve been training for 6 years, do I look massive?” she giggled.

Melissa doesn’t appear massive in the slightest, but she definitely looks strong. Since Jessica Ennis walked onto the Olympic stage in 2012, more women are choosing  to use ‘strong and sexy’ as their fitness motive rather than the once coveted ‘thigh gap’ and 'bikini bridge'.

It’s the very reason why Crossfit first caught my attention. I had endured an unreasonable amount of body envy after my friend Genevieve Edusei showed off her glorious assets on Instagram. Her bod, that has now seen her bag trophies at UKBFF bodybuilding competitions, is the results of dedicated Crossfit training. The changes aren’t just aesthetically, 5ft2 Genevieve could probably pick 5ft10 me up above her head with ease.

She is also one of the most feminine women you’d ever meet.

Gen LiftingPull ups in heels anyone?

The best thing about Crossfit for me, is in what would typically be a man’s domain, women have wholly embraced it.

Crossfit challenges you to do more than you think you physically can do. To complete the class takes mental tenacity and the rewards are evident. This is why I can understand why Crossfit has become as popular as it has been. 

Ending the class I was already feeling the ‘accomplishment pain’ that comes after a successful session. Yet a text from Genevieve confirmed I should seek out a masseuse ASAP.

“You know that song, ‘Things Will Only Get Better’? Well, soz mate. Prepare for DOMS. Delayed Onset Muscle soreness. Hahahhaa”.

Yep. Pass the ice.

You can find Crossfit Central Manchester at Unit 9,
Red Bank,Manchester M4 4HF

Crossfit Membership for beginners starts £55 for one month. Please email Melissa or Simon
info@crossfitcentralmanchester.co.uk for more information about memberships. 


Follow @LOreal_B on Twitter. 

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