CrossFit brings in women, the ‘globo’ gym-weary, and the simply curious
LONDON, July 1 — If your workout consists of skimming a magazine while casually pedalling on a stationary bike, CrossFit will come as a jolt to the system. Yet, while it’s hailed as one of the most punishing, tortuous workouts you’ll likely ever do, the CrossFit business is booming, with everyone from computer geeks to grandmas to even adolescents grunting and sweating their way through the program’s intense full-body conditioning regimen. Steven Shrago, co-founder of CrossFit London, an industrial warehouse gym in London’s trendy Bethnal Green district, says, “Typically people who try CrossFit are either curious or they are universally tired of ‘globo’ gyms.” That’s CrossFit speak for corporate fitness centers. “Come to our gym and you’re coached and trained around your skills and capacities, regardless of your level walking in the door.”
A typical class comprises about eight to ten students, with coaches keeping a careful eye on proper technique, which is vital to sparing those Achilles heels and rotator cuffs — with the high risk of injury being a major source of contention in the CrossFit debate.
CrossFit is about intense, short bursts of activity, says Shrago, typically no longer than 20 minutes, all structured within a one-hour workout, five or six days per week. Expect to practice weight-lifting maneuvers, such as the deadlift, clean squat, presses, and power snatches. You will do endless push-ups, pull-ups, dips, rope climbs, and sit-ups, as well as handstands, pirouettes, flips, splits, and holds.
But isn’t this workout a little male-centric, with its heavy focus on upper body training? “Actually about 60 per cent of our students are women,” says Shrago, who adds that they do exactly what the men do, but with weights scaled down to about 60 per cent less.
“In their lives, women typically receive no encouragement to do serious strength training,” he says, noting his dislike of pink dumbbells marketed to women. “To me, that is hugely insulting, and the opposite of empowering.” CrossFit, he says, helps “demystify” strength training and weight rooms, which can feel exclusive to men, while teaching women vital skills, such as how to pull themselves up a rope or over a ledge. “These are basic, life-saving skills that just about anyone who is in good physical shape should be able to accomplish.” — Afp-Relaxnews