I’ve decided to do a series of review blogs on certain forms of exercise and their incarnation in Malaysia. The Klang Valley is a pretty sophisticated fitness destination, if you think about it. And one of things you can do is Crossfit®, which came to Malaysia around 2008. Pushmore introduced the concept to the country, being the first “box” (the word for “gym” in Crossfit® lingo) in Merchant Square, Petaling Jaya.
What is Crossfit®?
According to Crossfit’s website:
CrossFit is a fitness regimen developed by Greg Glassman over several decades. Glassman, CrossFit’s Founder and CEO, was the first person in history to define fitness in a meaningful, measurable way: increased work capacity across broad time and modal domains. He then created a program specifically designed to improve fitness and health.
Okay, well, Crossfit is what I would call a HIIT (high intensity interval training) style of workout: combining calisthenics, gymnastics, Olympic lifts, running, rowing and sometimes swimming.
Their warmups can be pretty intense and they take their post-workout stretches seriously. From what I can remember, they hold each stretch for about two minutes and they have quite a number of stretches to cover after each workout.
An interesting thing I find about Crossfit is that, because it is such an intense form of exercise discipline, they have a foundation programme in which one learns the basic moves, including a few basic form and technique for Olympic lifts, a staple in the Crossfit workout diet (food diet is another thing! as an aside, the whole Paleo diet thing came from the advent of Crossfit).
Crossfit, I might add, is I think the first fitness concept that began calling their practitioners “athletes”. And in a sense, they are. According to Crossfit’s website:
CrossFit is constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity
This is true. Practically every workout (or every workout, I’m not 100% sure) is time-based, and you ‘compete’ with yourself based on your time. In a sense, you also compete with others because your time is written on a board in the box… for the whole world to see 😉
Okay, no judgment lah! I am just stating things as is. Back to the topic, because of this time aspect and competition, I guess it is okay to call them athletes. They work dem hard k? I know because I have watched them and the WODs (otherwise known as ‘workout of the day’ – you need to increase your vocab when you take up Crossfit) sometimes seem brutal.
Last ‘peculiar’ thing about Crossfit: practically all their workouts are named after girls; e.g. Annie, Angie, Barbara, Chelsea, Cindy, Diane, Elizabeth, Fran, Grace, Helen, Isabel, Karen, Kelly, Linda, Lynne, Mary, Nancy, Nicole, Maimunah and Rosmah… Just kidding, those last two!! Gotcha! And, they also have a WOD called ‘Nasty Girls’! Yep…
My short-lived experience with Crossfit®
Before it even happened, it ended. Lemme explain. A long time ago, before I had my whole long tendon of my bicep ruptured, I really wanted to start Crossfit, so decided to jump into the foundation programme at Pushmore. This was the time when I did bootcamp in the mornings, did loadsa training for clients in between, then do the foundation programme in the evening.
Okay, as a person who exercises and lifts weights and did bootcamp, I did not find the foundation programme incredibly tough. But I noticed that lots of sedentary people did. As I mentioned, even the warm up can be pretty gruelling (this is the kinda thing we did at the foundation programme, while this one is 😳 and I’m glad we didn’t do warmups like that).
The sad thing is as soon as my foundation programme was done, maybe about a week later, I got a ruptured tendon (musta been around 2011). Anyway, after that, it was a long road to recovery and by the time that was done I had no inclination to start Crossfit or any other kind of intense workout of this kind.
The Good Things about Crossfit®
I admire the dedication, perseverance and hot bodies these Crossfitters have. Even though I can’t do the millions of burpees now (because of my knee injury) and I would prefer to avoid any kind of time-based workouts (because I am too much of an A-type person to not hold myself back in times of pain), I don’t disrespect the Crossfit discipline at all.
- Firstly, the workouts are gruelling. There is no way you won’t get fitter, stronger and faster.
- Secondly, the mental strength involved is incredible, and it is no wonder they do call their practitioners “athletes”. I think they deserve it.
- Thirdly, the discipline the practitioners exhibit is as good as ‘real’ amateur or professional athletes. Some of them wake up super early, or go to their respective box super late after work, just to get their workout in. I rarely hear of Crossfitters slacking.
- Fourthly, Crossfit workouts are multi-disciplined, including cardiovascular, strength and power components. And stretching at the end. All this makes for a good strong healthy body, IMHO.
Well, from what I have seen, there are two major ‘complaints’ about Crossfit.
- Not everything they do is ‘functional’. But that depends on one’s definition of ‘functional’, so this is just an opinion, there is no right or wrong.
- Injuries: okay, when you have a time-based kinda workout, with sometimes intricate movement patterns, there is a high potential for injury. And it happens often, enough people have told me so. Some people get off the Crossfit bandwagon and later, after rehab, get back on. Some don’t at all and move on.
- “Too intense”? This is something that no one really says but it is implied, especially because of the second reason above. Even if there is no injury, it is hard to maintain that kind of intensity for years on end. Something is bound to break, whether it be mental or physical. This is also the criticism levied against boot camp, which I will discuss at a later time.
The American Council on Exercise did a piece of research on Crossfit and the outcome is much as what I have outlined above. The conclusion was:
CrossFit works. For those who already do CrossFit regularly, this is surely no news flash. Based on the high intensity of the workouts tested, researchers conclude that CrossFit does a really good job of helping exercisers improve their aerobic fitness, while burning a fair number of calories in the process. And, like other high-intensity interval-training (HIIT) workouts, one can expect greater increases in aerobic capacity than what is seen with traditional aerobic training, which is typically performed well below an individual’s anaerobic threshold.
But they also added:
Beyond being potentially risky for many would-be exercisers, Porcari warns that the competitive nature and emphasis on completing CrossFit exercises as quickly as possible may well be a recipe for injury for some exercisers.
“The thing we’ve seen with a lot of these workouts is you go flat-out as fast as you can, but then your form falls apart. You really need to be technically correct with a lot of these exercises or else you’re going to get hurt,” says Porcari. “And it’s nice to be competitive with other CrossFitters, but at what point are you pushing yourself outside the realm of safety?”
In Malaysia, where?
Honestly, my advice to you is to just go try lah, you never know till you experience it, right? But I would point out to you that it is best to go to a Crossfit box with certified Crossfit
Here’s a list to help you begin your Crossfit journey:
- Pushmore Fitness Centre
- Crossfit Vidatha
- District 13 / Crossfit FMA
- Crossfit Pahlawan
- Crossfit Lah
- CrossFit 5833
- Crossfit 399
- Crossfit GTX
- Fuel Athletics
When you have started, let me know what you think? Or comment below if you are a Crossfitter!