CrossFit always struck me as some sort of a fitness cult.
People who do CrossFit spread their gospel both in person and in social media. From asking their friends to join them for WODs (aka workout of the day) to them posting photos and videos as they break weightlifting PRs, CrossFitters love to share their chosen lifestyle.
It's so popular, in fact, it's now considered a sport, too. Just check out this video of the 2016 CrossFit Games to see the kind of grind competitors go through.
I'm not going to lie: CrossFit intimidates me. Their tagline alone—"Forging Elite Fitness"—still sounds hardcore to me. Curious, we here at FHM.com.ph visited a Box ((what CrossFitters call their workout facility) recently to find out if we can conquer a CrossFit WOD.
For some convenient reason, the dotcom boys all had "important" errands on the day we had our trial workout at the CrossFit MNL Box in San Juan.
As we entered the Box, there were no drill sergeants barking orders, and instead a welcoming set of coaches talked to us as we got settled. As soon as we were ready, Nikko De Guzman, the facility’s head coach, explained to us what we were about to experience.
"CrossFit is a mix of weightlifting, powerlifting, plyometrics, kettlebell training, running, and gymnastics. We don't specialize in just one thing," Coach Nikko said. "Our goal as coaches is to get you out of your comfort zone."
After asking everyone's fitness backgrounds including any injuries our team might have, Coach Nikko described our two-phase WOD.
What we did first was to get our 3-rep maximum on the barbell deadlift. We did this for 15 minutes, taking as much rest time as needed in between attempts. Once that was settled, our WOD consisted of 7 reps of barbell deadlifts at 70 percent of our 3-rep max followed by 7 reps of burpees for as many rounds as possible (aka AMRAP) for 12 minutes.
I was a little apprehensive about what we’re about to do, especially since the ladies didn't lift regularly prior to this trial, but Coach Nikko assured that we'd be fine. "Just let coaches coach you. We will not push you to do things in bad form. We’ll always be here to guide you guys."
As most regular workouts, we started ours by warming up thoroughly. The coaches made sure our core and legs were properly activated by doing inchworms and glute bridges, and other dynamic bodyweight exercises. Once we were through, we started lifting, but not without some coaching first.
Coach Nikko and another CrossFit coach, Ralph Hilario, demonstrated the proper form of the barbell deadlift. We then performed a few reps using PVC pipes before going with the real deal. The girls were thoroughly coached to get the form right. I was told to tweak a few things, too.
We all had a barbell assigned to us with a challenging weight first to do a warm up of 5 reps. After resting for two minutes, the coaches told us to add 10 to 20 pounds of weight and do 3 reps. We kept repeating this until we found the heaviest weight we could do 3 reps of the barbell deadlift with good form. The coaches monitored us with each attempt.
For the next 15 minutes, rep after rep of deadlift were lifted. Most of us were surprised at how much we could actually deadlift. Tanya, one of our staffwriters, bested all the other girls as the coaches kept adding plates to her barbell after every successful attempt. "Kaya ko ba, to?" she asked at one point, to which the coaches said, "Kaya mo yan!"
She ended up lifting a total of 135 pounds with good form.
I haven't done heavy deadlifts for quite a while and was surprised at what I was lifting. "Since we're getting our 3-rep max, take as much rest as you want between attempts," Coach Nikko told me. I kept adding weight and after doing 3 good reps with a total of 195 pounds, I thought that was it. "Should I try one more set and add more?" I asked Coach Ralph. "Pwede pa yan!"
With the others already maxed out, everyone was watching. I heard them say, "Go Wayne!" And I ended up lifting a total of 215 pounds for 3 reps. I really felt the energy kick in after hearing my teammates' words of encouragement. After resting for two minutes, it was time to do the WOD.
We were divided into pairs and for the next 12 minutes, one person would do 7 reps of deadlifts followed by 7 burpees while the other rested. As soon as the person doing the exercises finished, they'd switch. This was how it was going to be until the 12-minute period elapsed.
As soon I started, my heart started pumping faster. After the first set, my lungs were working overtime and I kept breathing in. As I was resting, I found myself egging the others on, specifically our staffwriter Rose, the one picked by self-proclaimed oddsmakers at the office to puke first after our workout.
The CrossFit coaches also fired us up while they monitored our form. The atmosphere was so positive that I was pushing myself more than usual to finish my sets.
We were all breathing heavily and still cheering each other on as we headed into the homestretch. As the buzzer sounded, the longest 12 minutes we’ve ever experienced was done. High fives were exchanged, and yes, Rose even surprised herself by not puking.
While catching my breath, we all understood why CrossFitters are always so inspired to share their workout gospel. The environment as you do your WOD is highly invigorating.
"The strength of the workout lies in the community. Maraming nagsasabing parang kulto kami rito, but that's fine. Everyone here is doing the same thing and they’re going to cheer you on if you feel like quitting. Everyone is pushing each other outside their comfort zones to keep going," explains Coach Nikko.
As I sipped water while letting my heart rate go down, my feelings of intimidation about CrossFit were replaced by a better understanding of their culture. Sometimes, we're simply scared of the unknown. But this CrossFit session made me understand that great experiences occur when you venture out of your comfort zone. We were all smiles after the session, knowing fully that we'd all feel the pain kick in tomorrow.
Crossfit MNL San Juan is located at 8005 Ortigas Ave., Greenhills West, San Juan City. Check out their Facebook page for more information