THE BASICS: I decided to attempt The Cult of Crossfit twice in a week, albeit at two different establishments. As if I hadn’t had enough the first time round. Crossfit Hackney is close to Haggerston Station. Hidden down a quiet street, you will most likely walk right past it first time you visit, thinking you are walking by an old East London warehouse. Wrong- push your way in through the translucent curtains and voila! Endorphin rush and ultimate muscle pain are but an hour away.
THE BITCHES: Carly
THE CLASS: After creeping in through the aforementioned heavy duty strips that made up the doorway, I was greeted by a massive manly grunt somewhere in the distance. And then a woman growling. Couple more grunts.
Too late to change my mind?
“Yes to late to change your mind”, I scalded myself, “You want a fat arse at 30?! No. Exactly GET in there”.
Oh my god it’s got to the stage where my brain is now bullying me.
Taking heed of the angry tone of my brain, I crept in and perched on a stool in the waiting area, listening to the grunts and groans forthwith. I watched in awe as a particularly tiny, toned lady was guided through a serious weightlifting PT sesh. Her pert botty and toned abs made me realise that there must be some truth in the fact that weightlifting doesn’t just make you a meathead!
As the earlier class came to an end, some of my classmates were starting to stretch in the kind of “foyer” part of the studio. I realised I didn’t know any stretches and would probably look a bit of an idiot if I tried to replicate them, so decided to save my awkwardness and wait for the class to officially start.
And start it did! Josh cut the bullsh*t from the word go- he got us climbing over the bodies warming-down from the previous class, picking up our medicine balls (thank the lord for ladylike 5kg medicine balls!) and then back to the foyer area to warm-up and work on the basic techniques. I liked this introduction; the kind of “Look. You’re in this gym to get fit, so no crap. If you have to walk over another class, so be it!”
The first sentence out of Josh’s mouth after the intro brought my world crashing down around me. “We’re going to be doing lots of squats tonight, so get used to them” Josh said. Joy. I wished my glutes luck and bedded down for the hour.
We went through the basics movements we’d need for front-rack weight lifting, practicing with the medicine balls. Elbows at 90 degrees, hips back and into the fluid movement of knees opening wide as we squatted down, and then straight back up again. We then completed some really deep stretches on the thighs and hamstrings and were ready for The Class of Squatting.
We moved over to the stands- it was time to play with the big boys toys! Josh talked through the correct technique of squatting down with weights resting on our shoulders from the front and from the back.
The goal was to complete 6 reps of 3 front lifts followed by 6 back lifts, with 75 second rests in between each round. I started with just the 15kg bar and no weights on the side.
This was harder than it sounded, and emphasis was on strength and technique, not who could finish fastest. Josh kept hammering home that, although we should obviously be working hard and putting in the effort, it was super important to work on keeping the standard of our technique high, and not get sloppy just to get the numbers in.
Good technique was essentially a simple set of rules to adhere to; but boy were they tricky when you have to do them all simultaneously. And even tricker with a heavy weight on your shoulders.
After this, we all added weights- I chose 2.5 on each side, bringing my full bar and weights up to TWENTY KILOS, BITCHES!! I am a OLYMPIAN!! RAAAAAH!!!
After running through a personalised Olympic medal ceremony in my head, it was time to start concentrating on the second round of reps. The goal this time was to monitor how many we could do in a certain timeframe, and them make that our goal for 6 sets of reps. My goal was 10, which I consistently hit. I was pretty chuffed with that!
After this, we moved onto the revered WOD (Workout Of the Day). Skipping and weight lifting. How easy does that sound?! I was expecting 14 different difficult challenges, so when I heard we had a measely two tackle, I reckoned I would be able to do this with my eyes closed.
WRONG! You think you can skip, followed by 25 squat-to-over-the-head-weightlifts, and then carry on at a half decent pace? You are mistaken, my friend. And so I found myself actually grunting like a piglet, trying to lift this bastard pole above my head (nope, there were not even weights on the sides at this point). And after about 20 I literally got stuck with my arms above my head, too weak to bring them down at a pace other than that which would have decapitated me.
And so the guys saw my shaky little arms and rescued this poor piggy in distress, swapping out my pole for a medicine ball. But medicine ball was not my friend either. The sheer strength required to hold it out with my triceps parallel to the ground as I squatted down made me gracefully lose my balance and topple over backwards. Mortifying. Medicine ball and I are no longer on speaking terms.
And so, dear readers, this is how I found myself in a class of people, (all managing front weight lifting) holding up two little girlie 5kg dumbells and squatting with those like a bemused, chubby Jane Fonda. I am so ashamed right now.
But you know what? The fact that the class trainers read my capabilities and worked with me to find something that was both challenging yet comfortable enough to continue, was pretty impressive. I wasn’t made to feel like a fool by anyone other than myself as I replayed the toppling over backwards in my head a few, sheepish times.
I managed to complete all but the last rep, and the Josh went around high fiving everyone to celebrate our achievement. I felt pretty chuffed with my tiny weedy dumbell pumping arms right then. Chuffed and in INTENSE PAIN.
We were shown a warm down, and another of the trainers took the time to show me how to stretch out my shoulders, as I had found it such a struggle to get them behaving themselves. It was really thoughtful that he took the time to do this after the last class of the day.
THE VERDICT: Crossfit is HARD WORK, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. It is also very rewarding for this same reason, though! Crossfit Hackney is certainly not for the airy fairy amongst us, but the guys running it were genuine, helpful, thoughtful and on our side, which made the whole effing painful experience somewhat easier to deal with! I loved the fact that there were actually more women that men in the class too- this gym is one a Hot Bitch should feel welcomed in! Thank you guys!!
THE EXTRA: I couldn’t walk properly for four days after this class. FOUR DAYS!! And also have bruises on my weedy little shoulders. These, my friends, are crossfit battle scars. I am proud of them.