Think you're not fit enough for Crossfit?

Last updated 05:00 20/08/2014

PROGRESS PICS: Laura Topp before and after she started Crossfit.

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Comparing your beginning to someone else's middle is something a lot of us do. I was definitely guilty of this. But I'm happy to say I didn't let this hold me back for too long.

To put it succinctly, I have a very good friend who started CrossFit about four years ago.  She asked me to come along and to try it out numerous times, but I was happy plodding away on the treadmill and quite honestly was put off thinking it was all about weight-lifting and flipping tyres. I thought I wasn't fit enough to start.

Fast forward four years and my dear friend became a coach and a very talented CrossFit athlete then packed up and moved to the UK.

When I decided I needed to turn my training on its head and needed strength and variety to be a better runner I swallowed my ego and signed up to the beginners course at CCW. Best. Decision. Ever! 

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Here are some of the things I've learnt from my CrossFit experience so far...

- CrossFit is for every fitness level out there. The coaches help you to scale the exercises so you will feel challenged, but not out of your depth or at risk of injuries.

- You find your strengths and weaknesses. There will be things you really struggle with and things you excel at. For example, I can’t do pull ups or toes to bar and always need to take the scaled option in workouts, but I'm usually not the only one scaling these movements (and I really wouldn't care if I was). However being an ex-rower I'm very comfortable on an erg (a rowing machine) and usually do OK in workouts that include rowing. You will identify things you find easier than others as well as things you really need to work on.

- CrossFit has helped me figure out where my running is lacking and helps me work on these things. I used to try mix up the speed on the treadmill between 9 and 13km an hour, but as soon as I stepped outside for a run I would plod along at my comfortable 5.45 – 6min km pace for hours… no faster, no slower… plod plod plod. But we frequently do 400m, 200m and/or 100m sprints (sprints Laura, sprints) during CrossFit and they are haaaard - pushing myself out of my comfy plod plod plod pace is not easy. But I've learned that these sprints will only help come marathon day and heck - you definitely get good bang for your buck time wise.

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- There are plenty of yummy mummies at CrossFit, and these ladies are fit and so much fun! All ages are pushing themselves out of their comfort zones – some are running circles around people half their age and some are just starting back into exercise after having kiddies, but all are giving it their best and are total inspirations.

- You start for the workout and stay for the friends. You will meet so many inspirational and fun people. I have met so many like-minded people that have become great friends. People who like food, coffee, getting sweaty, experimenting in the kitchen, travelling and having a laugh and who will support you through the last reps of the worst workout. I even found the world's best flatmate at the gym - bonus!

- It rounds you out (figuratively) as an athlete. I stopped CrossFit for three months this year when I was training for the Rotorua marathon. I thought following a programme and running four times with one spin class a week would be fine. What happened? Plod plod plod, shin splints, plod plod tendinitis, plod plod lost four toe nails, plod plod plod tendinitis - and if you don’t let this overuse injury go down you’ll put NY at risk (that’s my angry physio's voice).

This time around I am balancing CrossFit with running for as long as possible. Not only for the benefits of cross training but also the huge emphasis the coaches put on mobility – there are dedicated classes just for mobility, stretching and mashing out knots and other sweet spots. These classes are run by physios so you know you're getting looked after.

I think back to when my friend first asked me to come along to CrossFit and can only feel disappointment in myself that I didn't give it a go and start then – I mean imagine where I could be now if I was three years down the track.

Right now I am trying to focus on what I have achieved over the past seven months and what I want to achieve over the next three months before running the New York marathon in November.

Everyone started with different backgrounds, fitness levels and goals. The one thing we all have in common is we took that first step inside the gym to see what this CrossFit business was all about. And guess what ... in seven months I still haven’t flipped a tyre!

To read more about CrossFit, running and my healthy kitchen experiments, check out the blog Kettlebells and Cookies 

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