Monthly Archives: April 2013

My CrossFit adventure: Day 1

Disclaimer: My training at CrossFit Fire City is sponsored by the box because this is a 30 day experiment for the box to see how they can bring my fitness to the next level.

If you had read one of my previous post, you would know that I tried Metabolic Conditioning or MetCon for short, at The Pit. MetCon is part of CrossFit, which was always my ultimate goal to start training in. The others are gymnastics and Olympic weightlifting.

Unfortunately, The Pit, which is a wonderful place, is not a CrossFit box. So you can imagine my surprise and happiness when Samuel Lim, Head Coach of CrossFit Fire City (CFC), contacted me with an offer. He will sponsor me to train at his box and assist me in my upcoming powerlifting competition. In return, I will blog about my journey as a newbie in the CrossFit world. Of course, I jumped at the chance.

Before anyone starts their training in CrossFit, they will need to go through a fundamental class where they will be introduced to everything related to CrossFit. From strength and conditioning to nutrition, all the bases will be covered.

So on a gloomy Saturday morning, I made my way down to CFC in Kallang for a 8am fundamental class. If you think that’s early, they actually open at 6.30am for training. CrossFitters are really early-risers. The box is actually only a 5 min walk from Lavender MRT.

The picture below is what you will be greeted with when you arrive. Nothing fanciful, just a old warehouse.

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And if you are wondering why CrossFitters call their gym a “box”, here’s why:

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I was joined by 4 other newcomers, who were like me, trying out CrossFit for their first time in their lives. Samuel started by introducing us to the history of CrossFit, why it was started and how it became really popular in the US. In case you are wondering, there thousands of boxes  in the US alone, but only 5 in Singapore.

Samuel then went on to explain CFC’s approach to CrossFit, which is being aware of your own body and engaging the right muscles for an exercise. After a few more details about CrossFit, we moved on to the practical part of the day.

First off, we were showed how to do proper body weight exercises like squats, push ups, sit ups and pull ups. You may think this is a waste of time, but postural alignment is very crucial in CrossFit because without engaging the correct muscles, you will definitely injure yourself. This is also the part where we were made aware of which muscles in our body, like the spine, pelvis or femur were supposed to be working.

After making sure our postural alignment was correct and we were using the correct muscles, Samuel introduced to us our first workout of the day (WOD). Our first WOD was As Many Rounds As Possible (AMRAP) in 5 minutes of 5 pull ups, 10 push ups and 15 squats.

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I could only completed 3 rounds because i decided to put what Samuel said in to practice. Really being aware of the muscles I was using and using the correct posture. I know I could complete 5 rounds, but without using the proper form, which would have defeated the purpose of the concept “awareness”.

Next, we moved on to learning about hip drive while using the weightlifting bar. We were introduced to exercises like the basic shoulder press, push press and thrusters. This is where the postural alignment is important, because you are basically pushing the weight above you and without a correct alignment, you will definitely injure yourself. Samuel made us do 3 rounds of 9 shoulder press, 6 push press and 3 thrusters to familiarize ourselves with the movements.

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When we were done, we were taught how to use kettlebells for deadlifts and swinging it with the momentum from our hip drive. Samuel also made us do the overhead squat, which is a test of your shoulder mobility and functional flexibility. I found out to my chagrin, I was weak in both areas. Samuel could see I had a hard time doing overhead of squats and he took a picture of me to show me where my problem was:

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My hands are supposed to be at where the green line is. But this is all I could go up to because of my years in body-building and not doing doing functional exercises, which has resulted in a lack of shoulder flexibility and mobility. So you can imagine how I struggled to complete the next workout which called for 3 rounds of 21, 15 and 19 reps of overhead squats and kettlebell deadlift + high pull.

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We took a break and Samuel explained to us the nutrition part of CrossFit. How CrossFit started with the In The Zone diet to the current fad, the Paleo diet. He explained that watching our diet is very important and the key to our performance in our training. I’m already eating clean, but I decided to borrow two books which explains the In The Zone and the Paleo diet. Fitness is a never ending lesson anyway.

Just when we thought the class had come to a close, Samuel informed us that we had a “finale WOD”, which is called Fight Gone Bad and where we were going to put everything we had learned so far in to practice. Just by the WOD name itself, you know that this is not going to be easy. And I was right:

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I guess he could see the look of horror on our faces, because he decided to give us a discount and make us do 2 rounds instead of 3.

How would i describe my performance in this WOD? I would call it my “baptism of fire” in to CrossFit because I have never felt so “defeated” by a workout before. There were so many things going on at once. I was trying to use the correct posture alignment and be aware of which muscles I was using, while at the same time, trying to hear the beeper which would signal that I had to move on to the next exercise.

I guess those who are coming from a fitness background that is similar to mine would feel the same way too. After many years of training in a normal and commericalised gym where you do bodybuilding movements all the time, you will definitely struggle with flexibility and mobility. Do not be intimidated by CrossFit even though it will shine a bright light on your weaknesses, because being functional is an everyday movement.

Feel free to join me on this adventure and please do not hesitate to ask me questions below. I will be more than willing to answer your questions.

I am so looking forward to my next class! 🙂

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