When I lived in Shanghai I joined the American Women’s Club of Shanghai and became a writer for their monthly magazine. Since I am a personal trainer and health coach, I wrote a fitness column featuring different fitness trends each month. I also wrote a lifestyle column about my experiences as an American expat living in Asia. In order to broaden this blog I will be posting these articles and hopefully will make them into a weekly feature!
First up is a topic near and dear to my heart… Crossfit! Unfortunately there is no Crossfit gym in Penang but I still try to do at least one WOD a week. As former gymnast and lifting junkie, Crossfit WODs are my cardio of choice. Here is an article I wrote when I first started Crossfit in Shanghai and fell in love with the sport of fitness.
Focus on Fitness: Crossfit
Sweat pours down my face, blurring my vision as I will my exhausted arms to push myself off the ground one more time. My lungs are bursting through my chest and my muscles scream with mercy. “10 more minutes!” shouts our trainer Mark. Oh no, we are only halfway done and I’m not sure if I am going to make it…
Sounds like torture right? Well, I willingly subjected myself to these 20 minutes of pain at the newest fitness trend to hit Shanghai. Crossfit.
So what is Crossfit? According to founder Greg Glassman, Crossfit is the “sport of fitness”. It combines elements of gymnastics, olympic lifting, running, and circuit training into short but intense workouts. Each workout of the day, also known as the WOD, is designed to last a maximum of twenty minutes and involves “constantly varied, high-intensity, functional movement”. Compound movements such as sprinting, jumping, squats and pull-ups are used to engage the entire body in a single punch.
The purpose of this type of training is to prepare for any and all physical challenges that may come your way. As the core strength and conditioning program for military units, police academies and elite martial artists, Crossfit trains the body for general physical fitness. In fact they say that their “specialty is not specializing”.
Whether your goal is to lose fat, run a race, fit into your skinny jeans, or pick up your children with ease, Crossfit trains you to be the best you can be. It is all encompassing and designed for people of all fitness levels. Each exercise can be scaled to your level of fitness and the goal is to progress to the next level at your own pace.
Back in the States, I had heard a lot about Crossfit. Around since 2000, it experienced a dramatic rise in popularity in the last few years. When I moved to Shanghai I was determined to find a Crossfit gym, also known as a “box”, and give it a try. Turns out the very first Crossfit gym, Iron Dragon Crossfit, just opened in Shanghai this September at in downtown central Jing’ An.
I immediately signed up for an introductory class offered the 1st and 3rd Saturday of every month and was instantly hooked. As a self-proclaimed lifting junkie, I love the power and physique that comes from lifting heavy weights. On the other hand, running is my kryptonite. After a mile I am crying with boredom. Fortunately, Crossfit is the best of both worlds. Both heavy lifting and bodyweight exercises are done all-out in a short amount of time, making it an intense cardiovascular workout. Now that is my idea of a good workout.
The best part of Crossfit has to be the community. Each workout is done as a group with everybody competing against the clock to achieve their personal best. While the atmosphere is competitive, it is supportive and friendly as well. After a week of Crossfit, I found that I pushed myself harder when working out with the group, especially because our final times are posted for all to see!
Better yet, Crossfit delivers results. Each workout is a chance to push your body to the limits and leave better than you were before. This is performance-based training that provides an intense but effective workout in less than 20 minutes. Expect to build muscle and burn fat without spending hours in the gym.
Although Crossfit WODs are extremely tough, they are addictive. Like another Crossfit junkie told me, “Crossfit is like a drug. It sucks, but afterwards you feel so good and always come back for more.” I can’t help but agree.
I’ll see you at the box.