28 days of
The Challenge

28 days of immersing myself in the culture, training and philosophy of CrossFit.

Start Here.

For the next 28 days I am going to immerse myself in the culture, training and philosophy of CrossFit.

Folk seem to either love it or you hate it. Right now I’m sitting quite happily on the fence, which I guess is a good place to be when starting an experiment.

I’m a bit of a ‘form nerd’ from all my ballet (I was a professional ballet dancer) and Pilates (I am a qualified Pilates instructor) so I am wary about being pushed beyond my max, and potentially into a place where I can easily get injured.

This challenge will be slightly different from the norm and I will be doing 28 days of a CrossFit program –  the recommended dose for experienced Crossfitters is 3 days on, 1 day off. I will be aiming for at least 4 days a week. I am not going to do it everyday because that wouldn’t give me an accurate impression of the training.

I will record my weight, results WOD results and mood each day and share these in the conclusions.

I will be doing my 28 days of CrossFit at CrossFit AKA  in Amsterdam.

The beautiful picture on the left is from my mate, and supposed to be for inspiration…



It was intimidating walking into my first official CrossFit session. I’m finding everyone is really friendly but even so, I feel nervous. Everyone is super fit – lots of chics with bulky shoulders and dudes with six packs. I feel like the new kid at school – the puny new kid who accidentally stumbled into the gym rather than debate practice.

When I think about CrossFit I don’t normally think of ‘stress relief’, but I’m predicting this might be a bit of a theme over the next 28 days…

I’m super stressed, borderline burnt out at the moment. The past few months have been extremely busy for me in all aspects of my life and I definitely considered not doing this edition of the blog. But, I’m a big believer in how beneficial exercise can be for stress relief and I have definitely seen that over the past few weeks while doing the CrossFit *on-ramp course. So, as well as seeing how much it changes my physical fitness, it will be interesting for me to see what it does for my mental health and stress levels.

Same thing can be said about any exercise – getting your heart rate up, increasing oxygen to your brain, releasing endorphins all help you feel less stressed but there is something I’m finding about CrossFit that is a bit different – I can’t quite put my finger on it yet but I’m assuming it is a combination of the extreme work out and the supportive and encouraging environment. I left my first session today feeling exhausted, but also energised, more grounded and more focused than I was when I walked in.

WOD (workout of the day) results


5 chin-ups
10 push ups
15 squats

Result from 13 minutes: 7 rounds

Because I’m a beginner I was instructed to only do 13 minutes – usually it’s 20. I’m also doing push ups on my knees and using an elastic band to help support the chin ups. (without it I can’t even do 1 chin up!)

Training today was hard but manageable. It was very heavy on the arms. In total I did 40 (assisted) chin ups and about 90 (knee) push ups. Hello t-rex arms. 

Day 1 Verdict:

From the workouts I have done in the on-ramp, I’m finding I feel really energised post work out for about 4-5 hours…and then completely crash. With the crash also comes EXTREME hunger. It will be difficult to not reach for whatever sugary / carby snack is around me. I had a headache about 4 hours after the training today but as soon as I ate (3 rice crackers with humus) it went away.

*on-ramp is a course you need to complete before being allowed to participate in the actual CrossFit program. I did a condensed version of the usual on-ramp course, which ended up being 5 pre classes in 2 weeks.

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Team Challenge Day

Today was fun – ha, who would have thought. I can already see how this can get addictive.

Today we did a team challenge. As soon as Alexander (Instructor and owner of Crossfit AKA) said ‘team challenge’ I got that familiar feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach – you know the one, where you are picked last for the sports team at school. But, surprisingly, this was nothing like that. Teams were selected for us and we were pushed to go only to our maximum. No one made me feel like the runt of the litter, even though I clearly was.

I have a massive case of T-rex arms from yesterday’s workout. Lifting the kettle to fill it this morning was almost impossible, I actually can’t lift my bike up onto the bike racks (which is an important thing to be able to do when you live in Amsterdam and cycle everywhere!) – I had to ask a passer-by to help me this morning and I’m currently trying to type with very minimal actual arm movement.

Tomorrow is an outdoor session. Will be nice to be exercising in the park.

WOD Results

Team challenge:

20 Push Pulls with dumbbells
10 Power press
30 Burpees
400m Run

Complete as many rounds as you can in 25 minutes. My team managed 6 rounds.

Day 2 Verdict:

I woke up today feeling dehydrated and apparently this is pretty common when you start CrossFit. I usually drink a lot of water but I’m trying to increase that even more today and also smash loads of coconut water.

No injuries yet, in fact my inner left hamstring (that I injured by stretching too far in Hot Yoga recently) is feeling the best it has in months. I’m also feeling energised, but it has only been 2 hours since I trained so I’m expecting to crash soon…

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Park Session COMPLETELY Owned Me.

WOD results

No WOD today – just a brutal bootcamp style park workout. Yep, this is going to hurt like buggery tomorrow!

Day 3 Verdict

I’m feeling great, but a little scared about how sore I am going to be tomorrow (and probably the next day). My current game plan for recovery is to drink lots of water and coconut water, make sure I’m stretching after class and if possible again later in the day. I’m also using my foam roller to roll out my ITB / quads / glutes.

Tomorrow is a much needed rest day but I’m planning on doing at least some stretching.

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Sore AF.

Today I woke up feeling like I had been hit by a bus. My whole body is sore but my upper traps, *glutes and outside quads are the worst. I had a mild headache for most of the day which I’m assuming is either from the tight traps or mild dehydration, or both.

Luckily though, today was a rest day. I tried to keep moving as much as possible and stretch whenever I could. I teach a very simple stretching / yoga session at my work each Monday morning and although I work with a bunch of very stiff boys, I think I was getting the most out of the session this morning.

I’m pretty grumpy today – being tired, sore and hungry for most of the day will do that to you 🙁

Tomorrow morning I have an 8am session. I have no idea how I am going to get through it with my muscles as sore as they are right now.

*My glutes are possibly from the 100 squats we did yesterday in the warm up! Yep, that was just the ‘warm-up.’

28 Days of CrossFit


So what actually causes muscle soreness?  (It’s not actually lactic acid build up)

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Still Super Sore (Possibly Dying Of Pain)

Can you die from pain? If you can, I think I’m pretty close.

I was rubbish in training this morning. My muscles were extremely fatigued and my energy was low. I’m assuming this is a combination of still being pretty shattered from my first 3 classes (even though yesterday was a rest day) and also from not having time to have a proper breakfast this morning (class was at 8am so I just grabbed a nectarine and some coconut water).

I spent about 45 minutes last night stretching and rolling out my muscles (with a foam roller and tennis balls) and I think this helped with my muscle soreness today. But I’m still insanely sore – in fact, I don’t think I can remember the last time my body was in so much pain from exercising.

Having said that, I am really enjoying learning the weight lifting elements – focus of today’s training was the Snatch Balance. There is a lot of focus on technique which I like – you can be strong but unless you master the technique, it isn’t going to work. We initially start by learning the movement with a wooden bar (like a broom, but without the brush bit) and then progress onto the 15kg weight lifting bar. Once you can master this you start adding weights. I only managed to add an extra 2.5kgs today.

I’m enjoying being allowed to work at my own level, but still being pushed to go further if and when this is available to me. My stomach always flips when I get to the ‘box’ (the gym is called a box in CrossFit) and see all the weight bars loaded with kilograms and kilograms of weights from the class before – how am I going to be able to lift that?? But of course I won’t have to lift that much weight until I’m ready. Or, maybe I will never be able to lift that much weight and that is also ok.

My energy and focus was great all day today after my workout. I didn’t get the 4-5 hour later dip that I have been experiencing during my on-ramp course and for the past couple of days.

WOD results

1 minute RKBS (Russian Kettlebell swings)
1 minute Ring push ups (I did dude pushups)
1 minute Squats while holding a weight over your head (I used 2 kgs)
1 minute Push Press
1 minute Rest

Result: 121 (reps completed) over 3 rounds

Day 5 Verdict:

I’m generally feeling better than yesterday, but I’m still really really sore. I’m also feeling tired – when almost every movement you do during the day (lifting the kettle to fill it up, sitting down / getting up from my desk, turning my head!) is painful, it can be pretty taxing.

Here is a funny video about CrossFit and how it changed this guy’s life – sounds shit, but is actually pretty funny.

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What Actually Is CrossFit?

I’ve been banging on about CrossFit now for 6 days, but what actually is it?

CrossFit was developed by a guy named Greg Glassman in the mid 90s. It is a strength and conditioning program that focus on functional movements. It’s designed to create the ‘fittest’ individuals, but not the ‘best’ in any particular specialisation.

CrossFit incorporates elements from gymnastics, weight lifting, interval training and calisthenics. Training usually consists of a warm up, a technique section and a WOD (Workout of the Day)

“CrossFit is the principal strength and conditioning program for many police academies and tactical operations teams, military special operations units, champion martial artists, and hundreds of other elite and professional athletes worldwide.” (www.crossfit.com)

Steve Kamb from Nerd Fitness has put together a really great article: A Beginner’s Guide to CrossFit (highly recommend reading if you are thinking about jumping in).

WOD results

Front squat with weight
KBS (American kettlebell swings which means the kettlebell needs to go all the way over your head to be counted as one rep)
400m run

21 reps, then
15 reps, then
9 reps, then
Run (which always stays at 400m)

Result: 12 minutes 15 seconds (15kg bar for the FS, 8kg kettlebell)

Day 6 Verdict:

Today I’m feeling tired, but less sore. I had a little bit more energy in training today than I did yesterday. For the first time at CrossFit AKA I had a female trainer. She had great energy and really knew her stuff.

Dare I say it, but training today was slightly easier. Not necessarily because I am getting stronger but because I could scale it down. I possibly could have pushed myself a bit more (in terms of adding more weights) but it felt like the smart thing to do to keep it on the lighter side today.

Just to be clear – the picture above is of my weight bar – I’m pushing myself as far as I can go (without doing damage) but that’s all I’m lifting!

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Week One ✓

I’m finding that I’ve been telling anyone and everyone about CrossFit – people seem to be curious, but I also know that CrossFitters have a reputation for getting a bit preachy about it – have I already started to preach??

I really do genuinely want to share – it is making me feel good; you can quite easily measure progress, it helps with stress management, I’m finding I’m sleeping better and have a really healthy appetite and on top of all that, the CrossFit community is super supportive. So, I do understand why talking about it could come across as preachy.

I am only 1 week into my 28 days but the two most surprising things so far are:

1. That there is more focus on form and technique than I anticipated – in fact, I recently did around 80 yoga classes here in Amsterdam and I got corrected 2 times – yep – *only twice in 8 months! The CrossFit coaches are constantly correcting and actually teaching, which I didn’t expect.
2. You are not expected to just push your body into a place it shouldn’t be. I had visions of being pressured to do military style workouts that either caused injury, made me cry or even vomit so I’m feeling pretty positive about what I’m experiencing right now.

WOD results


30 Clean and jerks reps for time
Men should be lifting 60kgs and women 45kgs

I did 15kgs (yep, still only using my puny weight bar) and got through the 30 reps in 6:46.

28 Days of Me Day 7WOD-Results-07.08.2014

Day 7 Verdict:

My body is slowly getting used to the training. I’m still really sore but I’m not quite as exhausted as the first few days.

And here is some inspiration for you chicas:

Now that’s fit…

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Away WODs

Today is my second rest day – I’m feeling beyond pleased about that right now.

My upper traps and outer quads are sore from all the Clean and Jerks yesterday, but otherwise I’m feeling ok. I feel like my body is slowly getting used to the workload – I have a long way to go but I’m not as tired as I was earlier in the week and definitely less sore!

I’m heading off to the UK for a festival today. I will be away for two training days so I am taking my ‘Away WODs’ with me. I will post the results of these in the coming days.

Here are a bunch of good resources for any CrossFitters (or even non CrossFitters) who travel regularly and don’t want to have to miss out on a training day:

1. The Traveling WOD
2. CrossFit The Den
3. CrossFit KOP
4. Firebird Crossfit
5. Dai Manuel

WOD results

No WOD today

Day 8 Verdict:

My body is feeling good – no injuries to report so far. I have been getting a mild headache most afternoons – I’m assuming this is from low glucose so I need to make sure I am eating more fruit / coconut water post workout next week.

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Wilderness Festival

Today I’m camping at a festival in the UK – hahah, the things I do to myself – somehow I thought being in the middle of a 28 day challenge, and going to a festival would be OK.

I woke up today after only a few hours of bad quality sleep and the first thing on my mind is how am I going to be able to get through my away WOD?! Bloody hell.

After some coconut water and fruit, I headed to a spot that wasn’t too busy and started the workout.

It was way harder than I had expected (they always are) and it took me over 16 minutes to complete it. I got a few words of encouragement from festival-goers, which was nice.

My muscles were feeling like jelly for most of the rest of the day. I haven’t done sit ups in any of the workout recently so my abs already started to hurt by the early afternoon.

WOD results

Push ups
Sit ups

I completed the workout in 16:07.96

Day 9 Verdict:

I’m feeling wrecked. Going to a festival and keeping up an intense training regime are two things that don’t go together well.

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Absolutely, Bloody Shattered

Today I had planned on doing another WOD and then having a rest day tomorrow. But I woke up at the festival to torrential rain, was exhausted from not sleeping well for the past 2 nights and have a sore shoulder from going a bit too hard in acroyoga the day before, so I decided it was probably a better idea to not work out today.

I feel like I am already losing strength and fitness from the partying and good times, lack of quality sleep and not working out on Friday and today. But, I know it is extremely important to give your body a rest when I’m feeling this shattered.

WOD results

No workout today

Day 10 Verdict:

I am feeling tired from sleeping in a tent at the festival, and my body is sore from yesterday’s WOD. I’m also a bit under the weather…I have a sore throat and runny nose and feel like I have been fighting off a cold for the past few days.

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When Will This End

I woke up feeling sick and grumpy; and disappointed that I need to take today as an extra rest day.

I’m regretting going to the festival, I’m regretting starting this experiment when I already have heaps going on at the moment, and I’m generally feeling pretty low.

I have had 2 green smoothies so far today and a ton of vitamin C, but I feel like I’m clutching at straws and this cold has already set in.

I’m also a bit concerned about my shoulder which has now gotten sorer.

I guess today is just one of those days…

WOD results

No WOD today.

Day 11 Verdict:

Feeling absolutely rubbish.


I’m reading things articles like this about the benefits of giving your body a rest while exercising to make myself feel somewhat better about taking an extra rest day today.

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Big Girl Pants

When my alarm went off at 7am today to get to my 8am class I was not happy. Not happy at all.

I still don’t feel well and felt like I could have slept until noon (if I didn’t have to work).

I made it to the class and surprisingly enjoyed the session – it was a real mood enhancer. It picked me up for the rest of the day – mainly from the movement and physical activity (nothing like getting your blood flowing to pull you out of a slump) but also from the socialising – it’s just not cool to bring your personal shit to an 8am class so I put my big girl pants on and faked a smile and it didn’t take long before I was starting to feel better.

Today I partnered up with someone that was even newer to CrossFit than me. It was nice to no longer be the new kid (although he was lifting about 4 times what I was so it turns out he isn’t new to strength training) He encouraged me to lift more than I would have on my own, my shoulder felt OK and I ended up lifting 40kgs in a deadlift (10 reps), that felt pretty cool.

WOD results

10 RM DL (Deadlifts)
Result: 40kgs

Push ups
Sit ups
Result: 118

Day 12 Verdict:

I already feel heaps better than I did yesterday. I think my body (and mind) responded well to the rest, and to the 8am session today.



I lifted this today! Ok, it was a deadlift and so I didn’t have to do anything too fancy but still…progress from just using the 15kg bar!

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Tougher For Guys Or Girls?

I’m not very good at CrossFit, in fact I’m really weak and even though I’m giving this a bloody good effort, I feel like I don’t particularly fit in with all the bulging biceps and muscly quads that are to my right and left.

But, thats ok.

I know I have only been doing this for less than 2 weeks but there are still times when I look around and feel a bit embarrassed about doing my very scaled down versions of the exercises.

From talking to non CrossFit male mates I’m realising that this feeling could be even more topical for guys. “They are called girl push ups for a reason Mon”. When I’m being advised to just use the 3kg weight and when everyone else is using at least 8kgs, this feels ‘OK’, but I can imagine if you are a guy who is new to CrossFit and being given ‘girl push ups’ or the 3kg weight, it could be hard to stomach.

Of course you need to accept that you are starting from the bottom and be open to learning but I can see how it might be easier being a girl newbie, than a guy.

WOD Results:

EMOM 10 (Every minute on the minute)

6 Front Squats (20kgs)
8 Handstand push ups (In my version I was kneeling on a tall box so I could replicate the handstand position but without full weight)

The front squats were ok but as I was doing the modified handstand push up I needed to complete 16 in the 1 minute. I only completed 16 once.

2 RFT (Rounds For Time)

15 Strict pull ups (not kipping)
20 Overhead lunges (20kgs men, 10 kgs women)
25 T2B (Toe to Bar)
30 Dumbbell snatch
35 Burpees
400m run

My result – 200 reps completed (Modifications: assisted chin ups, V sit ups and 3 kgs for the dumbbell snatch)

28 Days of crossFit Day 13

Day 13 Verdict:

Because the same WODs are done in each class during the day, if you arrive early you can get an idea of what’s to come in your session. I was regretting arriving 10 minutes early today because then I already knew how challenging today’s WODs were.

I didn’t feel great in training today and it made me realise how beneficial taking a rest day is after feeling so good yesterday. Today my muscles felt fatigued before I even started. I am going to do one day on and one day off for a few days and see how that feels.

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Greg Glassman – CrossFit Founder

Crossfit was founded in Santa Cruz by Greg Glassman in the mid 90s.

I think I understand why he isn’t actually the face of CrossFit – (at the time of writing) he is a not a very healthy looking 60 year old who walks with limp and has a nice healthy layer of padding around his middle. But, he is very likeable and he makes a lot of sense when talking about both fitness and business.

He started out as a gymnast and then became a trainer in California. In his early days as a trainer he already saw many faults in traditional gym training – he would train guys with massive chests and bulky legs, but their functional fitness was average at best – they couldn’t jump up onto a box without tearing an ACL. He was also disheartened by the fact that traditional gyms are set up for people to pay and actually not go back, meaning if everyone with a gym membership went to the gym regularly, the gym couldn’t function. So eventually CrossFit was born – he created his own gym (or Box as it is called in CrossFit) where he could focus on functional movement training and fill the space with ropes, rings, tyres and pull up bars – equipment that he believes creates the fittest men and women on earth.

His goal is not to convince everybody in the world that CrossFit is ‘better’, but his philosophy revolves around the idea that doing CrossFit your life will be better. It might sound like a big claim but I do understand what he is saying – get your health and fitness in a better place and your energy, focus and mood (perhaps even your life) improves. He has an example that if you asked a CrossFit newbie to write down on a piece of paper what they want to do better in life – it doesn’t have to be fitness specific goals – just what they want to do better, then they re-visited this list in 6 months time they would have achieved the majority of their goals by just incorporating CrossFit into their lives. You can say this about embarking on any new fitness / sports regime but where I think it is different for CrossFit is that people tend to usually stick with because it can be a bit addictive

It is almost 2 hours long but if you have the time I recommend watching this surprisingly inspiring talk by Greg Glassman:

WOD results

No WOD today.

Day 14 Verdict:

Rest day today – all my rest days so far on this experiment have felt like ‘cheating’ because the concept of this whole blog is to do things for 28 days. I decided at the start (with the help of the lead trainer at the box I am attending) that doing 28 days in a row of CrossFit would actually give me a true representation, and also it was pretty likely that going from zero to hero would result in injury, but still it feels weird not to train. Having said that, every rest day I have had has really helped to reset me and I find I have much more energy the next day.

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Hardest WOD to date

I get to CrossFit this afternoon and see the following two things on the board to do as part of the WOD:

2k run + Wall Ball

I’m rubbish at running – it is just not my thing and I avoid it if I can and wall ball is currently my least favourite thing about CrossFit . I despise it and I have to do 50 today. Fifty!

For the first time I’m properly scared. Suck it up buttercup.

But, I (finally) got through it – it took me over 32 minutes (which I’m assuming was one of the slowest of the day). I  managed to complete the 50 chin ups, but I had to double up the elastic bands (which means extra support so they are a lot easier).

I think it took about an hour for my face to lose it’s beetroot red tint.

I did the afternoon session for a change today, I am mostly doing morning sessions simply because my energy is better in the mornings and I get a lot of benefit from the workout for the remainder of the day. The afternoon was fine but I think I will try to keep up the morning sessions as much as I can.

WOD results

2K run
100 mountain climbers
50 push ups
50 wall ball
50 chin ups
400m run with kettlebell

Result: Well, I was so shattered I forgot to check the time when I finished, but I know it was 32 minutes +

Day 15 Verdict:

After the work out I’m feeling shattered – my legs and arms are jelly. Feeling relieved that I have a rest day tomorrow.

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My Findings So Far

I am now over halfway through my CrossFit experience and I have been asked a few times already what my main findings are so far, so here goes:

  1. It is more focused on form and technique than I had expected, however I still haven’t seen a deep understanding core strength and alignment.
  2. It is more focused on injury prevention than I expected (it could be of course because I’m blogging but I’m pleasantly surprised at how much focus there is on only going to your max)
  3. It’s fun – I love yoga and pilates but I am enjoying the change of pace
  4. The WODs look way easier on the board than when you are actually doing them! …everytime.
  5. You feel a bit like you are letting the team down if you don’t go. It isn’t a team sport but it still it has a way of making you feel motivated to turn up and to keep challenging yourself.
  6. The exercises are scalable but you still need a level of fitness to participate – I’m also not sure how an out of shape 50 year old, or someone needing a slow recovery from an injury would go if they started CrossFit.
  7. I think my shoulders are looking stronger. Although, the few people I have asked about this said they don’t notice any difference 😉
  8. It is really good for my stress levels and mental state. Any exercise is, but it is harder to get yourself there when you are stressed and busy.  CrossFit makes it pretty easy to fit it in your life – just turn up ready and the rest is done for you. They offer lots of classes during the day and after work and the workouts are short – sometimes we are done in 50 mins.
  9. I am still often confused about the terminology (RFT, AMRAP, FS) 
  10. I need more rest than I had expected. I used to be a professional ballet dancer and train 9+ hours a day, so I had thought 1 hour a day with some rest days should be manageable, but I was wrong. I am now trying 1 day on and one day off to see if that helps.

WOD results

No WOD today

Day 16 Verdict:

I am feeling less sore than I thought I would…but maybe that is coming tomorrow! The one day on, one day off is feeling like a good move.

I am looking forward to training tomorrow even though it is a Sunday! I often struggle to motivate myself to workout on Sundays – it always feels like it should be a rest day.

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Sunday Park Session

Today’s training was an outdoor session. These are my least favourite but are possibly the most beneficial for me because they focus on general fitness and cardio more than strength training (my cardio is rubbish…)

I’m fairly weak in comparison to most other people at CrossFit AKA, but my form is good (and general co-ordination and flexibility) so I can get by with modified strength training exercises, but there is no hiding in the park sessions – they own me every time.

It’s a bit like bootcamp  – using different exercises to get your heart rate up and keeping it there. I’m convinced I have an abnormally small heart and lungs because I struggle SO much with both high intensity and cardio, but it of course it is more likely because I’m not as fit as I like to think I am 😉

But, having said that today our team won! We worked in groups of 3 to complete the WOD. Our ‘win’ was a bit bittersweet because we were not 100% sure we counted correctly! You focus so much on getting through the exercises it can be hard to keep track of where you are. I assume this is a skill that comes with time.

Now, this is slightly off topic for this challenge but the other great thing about the session today was that it was in Dutch. I’m an expat living in Amsterdam and my Dutch is poor. Actually it is beyond poor considering how long I have lived here. Learning languages are a bit of a sore point for me – I have tried quite a few times in my life and the words just don’t stick. However, I understood over 50% of the instructions today and it got me thinking that it would (for me at least) be possibly one of the best ways to learn a language. I really cant pick up much sitting in a class room, but when a fitness instructor is speaking very clearly and slowly and using some words and numbers I recognise (Eg: push ups, V Sit ups) and, it is important I really try to pick up as much as I can before the WOD starts, then it is amazing how much I understood.

WOD results

8 Push Ups
10 V Sit Ups
12 Squat Jumps (I was given the easier version which was just to do squats)
Short run (300m-ish)

Two people start and get through one set all the way to the end of the run, one of those two people rest and the other person tags in. As a team we needed to complete 15 rounds.

Now, it might sound like you are getting a nice rest break here every few minutes but let me tell you – I was only starting to get my breath back by the time I needed to start again.

Day 17 Verdict:

I think my body is getting a bit more used to it because my muscles are not as sore now. However, during training today I was regretting my late boozy night Friday night. I am really enjoying the team challenges.

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How To Get Started With CrossFit

A few people have asked me recently about how to get started with CrossFit. It somehow has a component of mystery to it – I guess because there is a process to becoming a member and you can’t just turn up like you can with a normal gym.

Firstly contact the CrossFit gym and ask to come in for a trial class, and make sure you go to a few to see which one is a good fit for you. The trainer will (should) know you are an ‘intro’ and will modify the exercises for you. The idea is you get a bit of a work out and a feel for what CrossFit is all about, but not work you so hard you cant move the next day.

Word of warning: you are all of a sudden in a gym with people that are (generally) quite a bit (ok, probably a lot) fitter than you, there is a healthy competitive feel and you don’t want to look like a dweeb so it is very easy to push too hard in this trial class. I did, and had T-rex arms for 4 days after.

After the trial class you will probably spend a few days having trouble sitting down / walking up stairs / sitting up out of bed but, if you are still keen to get involved you will sign up for the next on-ramp course. This usually involves 1 month (sometimes as much as 3 months) of both technique classes and fitness classes to get you ready for the program.

And then thats it…you can then join in the regular sessions. Each gym (box) will differ slightly in how they bring new people in, but this is fairly standard approach.

Resource for new starters

If you are serious about getting involved, and have the time, this is a good read. It is a tiny bit preachy, but also interesting and educational.

It is “a collection of CrossFit Journal Articles written over the last 10 years primarily by Coach Greg Glassman on the foundational movements and concepts that comprise the CrossFit methodology.”

It’s mainly for people who are interested in becoming a Level 1 Trainer but also a good reference for anyone who is keen to increase their fitness and Crossfit knowledge.

WOD results

No WOD today.

Day 18 Verdict:

Today I’m feeling a little sore but otherwise OK.

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Interview: Charlotte Mairis CrossFit Coach

I’m really enjoying Charlotte’s sessions and I was keen to hear more about  her experience with CrossFit and becoming a coach.

Monique: Thanks you so much for sharing your thoughts with us. Can you tell me how you got started with CrossFit?

Charlotte:  A close friend of mine sent me a video of Chris Spealler (CrossFit legend) about four years ago. I was sold immediately but in the absence of a CrossFit box nearby I had to let it go. A year ago I moved to Amsterdam and came to live a stone’s throw from Crossfit AKA. I tried a workout and I have loved every painful minute since.

Monique: What was your first impression of it?

Charlotte: The workouts were intense, the coaches were knowledgeable and the members were fit but, above all, very likeable and supportive.

Monique: Why did you decide to become a coach?

Charlotte: One of my great passions is helping people. Since becoming a CrossFit coach I get the opportunity to do what I love. I enjoy being able to introduce people to what their bodies are truly capable of.

Monique: Can you tell me about the process for qualifying as a CrossFit instructor?

Charlotte: After I had achieved a certain skill level myself, I passed the CrossFit Level 1 Trainer Course and I started teaching classes that were overseen by head coach Alexander. I use the CrossFit Level 1 Trainer Course as a starting point. From there I am going to gain experience by coaching as many classes as possible and continually educate myself by reading articles and watching videos in order to become an even better coach.

Monique: What are your thoughts on the sometimes negative press CrossFit gets?

Charlotte: Haters gonna hate…

Monique: What is the biggest thing CrossFit has taught you (so far)?

Charlotte: CrossFit taught me that I can push myself beyond my mental and physical limits to a place that I previously considered unachievable. If you want to achieve anything in life, put in the work, give it your all and the results will come.

Monique: Any advice for women thinking about give it a go?

Charlotte: Women might feel a little intimidated by heavy weights. They have probably have heard horror stories about lifting weights and how it makes women look bulky or that it is dangerous. But actually quite the opposite is true. Lifting weights will help you to get a healthier and stronger body.

CrossFit is not too intense for the average Jane. When done correctly, CrossFit is safe, very effective and lots of fun! You will probably be overwhelmed by sense of community and support. You’re not just doing your own thing –  you have coaches who are helping and encouraging you along the way. It pushes you to make and meet your fitness goals and every part of you will feel and look stronger! Need I say more?

Charlotte coaches at CrossFit AKA.

WOD results

The Chief

5 rounds of AMRAP

3 Power cleans
6 Push ups
9 Squats

3 minutes to complete as many rounds as possible, 1 minute rest and then repeat another 4 times.

Day 19 Verdict:

Today we partnered up for the workout – one person trains and the other keeps score and watches for no reps or bad technique. I went second. This had advantages and disadvantages – I had just downed a green smoothie before training so going second gave me an extra 20 minutes to digest – pretty happy about that. However, when you have watched your partner fight their way through the WOD with gritted teeth and a very focused but also painful look on their face – you know how much it is going to hurt.

And again the workout sorted me out in terms of stress management. By the time I got to work (post WOD) I was feeling like I could solve anything.

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Paleo Diet

A lot of peeps who do CrossFit follow a paleo diet to help with weight loss, muscle definition and it can usually be achieved without counting calories.

I have listed below what I am mostly eating at the moment. It isn’t paleo, but it isn’t high carb either.  I’m basically sticking to what I normally eat simply because 2 big changes in my life right now – CrossFit training and daily blogging are enough to keep me busy!

My appetite has settled down a bit from the extreme hunger I was experiencing in the first week. I had teenage boy hunger – I was starving about 10 minutes after I had eaten.

I have been advised by a number of people to eat more protein while I’m training. For me this means nuts, lentils, eggs, chicken, pork and sometimes steak. I love fish but I’m just not eating a lot of it right now. This article is a good reference to help you work out how much protein you should be eating.

My current diet looks something like this:


Green smoothie: fruit (banana, pineapple, kiwi fruit, orange etc), greens (spinach, cucumber, celery, mixed greens etc), coconut water (or water), herbs (coriander, mint, parsley etc), ginger and some superfood powders (currently maca powder and wheatgrass) I then add goji berries, seeds and nuts to the top. I have been having Green Smoothies most days for breaky since 28 Days of Raw)
— Hot water with either lemon or ginger

Day-20 28 Days of CrossFit

Morning snack

— Raw nuts / fruit / crackers


— ‘Hearty’ salad (meaning making sure it has lots of protein and quinoa for example) / soup

Afternoon snack

— Rice crackers with avocado / hummus / tomato / banana / peanut butter (not all together) 😉 / fruit / chocolate (depending on how stocked the “snack draw” is at work) / popcorn / dried fruit


— Sushi / Chicken and salad with quinoa / Eggs, beans, bacon and spinach / Big ‘hearty’ salad with lots of goodies / Roasted veggies


The occasional bad snacks – chips, biscuits, chocolate. I am not eating loads of these things but I’m definitely more than I have been recently.

WOD results

No WOD today

Day 20 Verdict:

I’m feeling pretty good but starting to wonder if I will keep up CrossFit beyond this experiment. So far the main benefit for me has been stress management and the buzz I get – and usually maintain – after a session. But is it enough to keep me hooked?

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“Now you know you’ve got lungs”

I was one Russian kettlebell swing away from bringing my green smoothie up all over the mat today. No exaggeration.

My body is either going to love me or hate me for this tomorrow. It has been a very long time since I pushed it that hard.

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We had a small class today (only 4) and I was last to finish the WOD – I had 3 more rounds to get through after everyone else finished. It was the first time I actually considered stopping – I really didn’t think my body was going to be able to get through it.

When I finally did finish, the coach’s comment was ‘Now you know you have got lungs.’ Correct – I know know I have lungs, and how poor my cardio vascular fitness is.

WOD results:

Warm up WOD

2 rounds of:

200m run
10 squats
10 push ups
10 scorpions
10 lunges
10 Inside Outside

This was just a warm up WOD so a score wasn’t recorded.

WOD FT (For time)

100 Double Unders (or 300 single skips if you can’t do double under – I did 300 singles)
50 Wall balls

Every minute you need to break and do 9 Russian Kettlebell swings.

So, the slower you are at completing it, the more Kettlebell swings you will end up doing.

Result: 14:48

Day 21 Verdict:

My right shoulder is feeling a bit sore – it still isn’t right from pushing it too far in Acroyoga at the Wilderness Festival that I went to earlier this month, and when your body is so exhausted and your brain is mush (like in the WOD today) it is harder to stay in touch with pain and how your body is feeling. It really helps to have someone there (either a partner or trainer) to act as your brain when you are so fatigued. It was helping having the coach yell ‘take a break’ every time I needed to.

I have had to ice it a few times today and really hope it is OK again tomorrow.

Video that I find funny, but a little disturbing![/readmore]

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Sore Shoulder :-(

I was actually a bit loopy all day yesterday after the super high intensity workout in the morning. It wasn’t a bad thing but just an odd feeling – legs like jelly, brain a bit fuzzy.

My shoulder is unfortunately still a bit sore. I was really hoping to get through this 28 days injury free and I’m getting worried I will need to start backing off the intensity or skipping more sessions.

I was going to train tomorrow but have decided to do the outdoor session again on Sunday instead to give my shoulder one more day of rest time. I have been icing it again today and I think that is helping a bit. I’m a big believer in the benefits of ice on injuries in the first 48 hours. I see mates hurt themselves (often slightly intoxicated cycling injuries which are pretty common here in Amsterdam!)) and not ice, and then struggle to get rid of the swelling and pain. But trust me when I say you must ice – it will make a dramatic difference to your recovery time (the exception is lower back injuries).

My friend jokingly asked me recently what my CrossFit safe word was. He suggested pomegranate. Unfortunately this has stuck in my head so every time I’m nearing complete exhaustion I get a visual of me rolling over and yelling ‘Pomegranate, Pomegranate!’ And a room full of people staring at me like Ive finally lost it.

WOD results

No WOD today

Day 22 Verdict:

I’m feeling gutted that my shoulder is playing up, and my back is also pretty sore. I really wanted to train today simply to keep up the pace, but I also don’t want to make my shoulder worse.

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Physical Changes

The main physical changes I have noticed so far are:

1. I generally feel fitter in everyday activities (Cycling, walking up stairs, carrying groceries)

2. My body shape has changed slightly – my outer quads are more developed and my shoulders are a tiny bit stronger looking. My pelvis is also tilted slightly more forward due to the quad development. My abs are more defined, although the type of ab work you do in CrossFit generally develops the rectus abdominis so the result is a slightly more protruding 6 pack rather than the flatter, slightly less defined version you get by focusing on the transversus abdominis and obliques (as you do in something like pilates training or controlled core work)

3. Apparently my skin is looking good – clearer, more radiant (Nice!) A few people have mentioned this to me now and it makes sense. I have bad blood circulation so having the blood pumping more around my body – especially to the extremities, could mean nicer looking skin.

4. I am sleeping really well, but I do usually so no real change here.

I am monitoring resting heart rate, weight, measurements of various parts of my body, mood and muscle soreness. I will share these once the experiment is complete.

WOD results

No WOD today. Although I did do some at home stretching.

Day 23 Verdict:

Feeling good about the fact I only have a week to go. It’s nice to take a moment to appreciate the physical changes, but I am pretty shattered and kinda feel a bit like I’m getting through on adrenaline.

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I’m Like A Dying Beast

Today was an outdoor training session. It was a shorter session than we have done previously in the park, but definitely just as intense.

Warm up was simple – a short run, some push ups, lunges, stretches.

The WOD was 25 push ups, 25 squats, 25 walking lunges and then run a hill run – 100 meters up and back down again. And then you do the same but this time with 20 reps, then 15…10…5:

Push ups:

28 Days of CrossFit Press Ups


28 Days of CrossFit Press Ups


28 Days of CrossFit Press Ups

Hill run (I may look like I’m happy but trust me, at this point I was in quite a bit of pain already):

28 Days of CrossFit Press Ups

Alexander looking mildly concerned…

28 Days of CrossFit Press Ups

And then…I’m spent.

28 Days of CrossFit Press Ups


25, 20, 15, 10, 5 reps of:

Push ups
Walking lunges

Then run up a 100 meter hill, back down again and move on to the next set of reps.

Day 24 Verdict:

My shoulder is feeling quite a bit better, and today’s workout wasn’t stressful on the upper body (We did pushups but the range of movement is small and I can do these quite controlled). I really, really struggle with the high intensity work outs in the park – I just can’t get enough oxygen in and unfortunately for my fellow CrossFitters, sound like a dying beast.

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Alexander Kreuger Head Coach At CrossFit AKA

It’s time to hear from the man who is responsible for the majority of my pain in this challenge.

Monique: How did you get into CrossFit?

Alexander: I was introduced to CrossFit when I was preparing for a title fight in the USA (UMC Muay thai title fight). I trained with a friend of mine in Las Vegas.

Monique: What was your first impression of CrossFit?

Alexander: I get a thrill from all kinds of sports where I can find my boundaries and improve them. After the first WOD I thought, ‘When can I go again?’

Monique: Why did you decide to become a coach?

Alexander: I want to help people to get, and stay, healthy. There was something missing in the fitness world when it came to motivating people. A lot of people don’t like the globo gym, because nobody wants to be a bodybuilder. The CrossFit community helps you to be motivated and inspires you to make conscious decisions about training, nutrition and your life in general.

Monique: Can you tell me about the process for qualifying as a CrossFit instructor?

Alexander: To become a level 1 CrossFit coach you need to pass an exam about the basics of CrossFit – you do this after you have completed a 2 days course. My opinion is that after the course you are not necessarily ready to give a full program of CrossFit. First you need to educate yourself with additional courses and it is also important to gain experience. Everybody can read a book and do a exam, but can you connect with people, inspire them and at the same time learn complex movements? These are the things that make a good CrossFit instructor.

Monique: What are your thoughts on the sometimes negative press CrossFit gets?

Alexander: If something is good, you will always have haters. Usually it has a lot to do with them not having done their homework.

28 Days of Me CrossFit Day 25

Monique: What is the biggest thing CrossFit has taught you?

Alexander: There is no limit to becoming better.

Monique: What trends have you seen in CrossFit?

Alexander: CrossFit is becoming popular and a lot of people want a piece of it. Therefore a lot of people forget what is at the heart of it – being a better version of you and helping people.

Monique: Any advice for anyone thinking about give it a go?

Alexander: Be critical about what Box you choose. Let the quality of the training and coaches go above, for example, the distance to the Box, you’ve only got one body so treat it with that in mind.

If you can read Dutch (or don’t mind the clumsy google translate version) you can read more about Alexander here.

WOD results

No WOD today

Day 25

It feels weird to only have 3 CrossFit sessions to go before 28 Days of CrossFit is done. I am sore from the park session yesterday – mainly my glutes.

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CrossFit Games

I was feeling pretty average this morning – I had taken a migraine tablet last night and it always makes me feel very lethargic the following day. So I was glad I could scale the WOD down easily this morning.

Today’s workout was actually a try out for a new ‘elite’ class that starts next month at the new CrossFit AKA box. I really like the idea – it is a class that focuses on advancing the best guys and girls. Because this really is ‘social’ training (it doesn’t always feel like it of course!) it needs to be set up in a way that even the weakest person in the class can do a workout – we go over technique, we practice lifting and talk about what to focus on, but if you have been doing this for awhile and are already pretty good, I understand that you will, and should, want more. It sounds like this class will deliver this.

This new elite class will also be set up to train people for the CrossFit Games: 

“The CrossFit Games are the world’s premier test to find the Fittest on Earth™. They are world-renowned as a grueling test for the world’s toughest athletes and a thrilling experience for spectators. Since its inception in 2007, the CrossFit Games have become “one of the fastest growing sports in America,” according to Forbes.”

Now, the CrossFit Games are something that I will never, ever compete in! But, it is a pretty interesting watch, and if you think you might have what it takes to compete, you can find all the info you need here.

WOD results

20 unbroken Double Unders (Still can’t even do 1 so I did 60 single)
Then, 9, 15, 21 reps of:
G2O (Ground to Overhead)

Time: 11:28 SU / 17.5KGs

Day 26

The workout woke me up from my sleepy state this morning, which was great because I’m sure my working day was far more productive having had done training this morning. I was insanely thirsty all day today and it feels like I have drunk at least 3 litres of water.

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Bike Accident = Another Injury

It looks like I will finish my 28 Days of CrossFit with two injuries, neither of them actually from CrossFit training though.

This morning I had a bike accident – it was minor but I walked away with a bruised and swollen knee… and the other injury is my shoulder that still hasn’t healed fully from acroyoga earlier this month, but I do think this injury would have healed a lot quicker had I not be punishing it so much.

I felt a bit fragile after the bike accident, but I was glad that I put on my big girl pants and got to the box.

Because of the knee, I had to do a modified WOD – I used a light weight for the Power Cleans, and did Kettlebell swings instead of Wall Balls (boom – there is always a silver lining!)

This is one thing I’m really enjoying about CrossFit – you can scale things up or down depending on your fitness and current situation.

I’m still struggling with the lifting elements, the technique is much harder to master than I anticipated. Just like in ballet there is so much to think about during the movement and you really need to master the coordination in order to do it well. Starting position – making sure your hands are wide enough, your squat is low enough, knees are out and chest is lifted, straighten knees first, but not too much, start to bring the bar up with control, make sure your knees are out of the way, once you get to mid thigh use your hips and glutes to ‘explode’ the bar up – remember the shoulder shrug, now get under the bar, remember knees out in this position, chest lifted and hold!

….and now think of all that, in the right order, in less than 2 seconds!

But, I guess that it also part of the charm – the more challenging something is, the more rewarding it is when you master it.

WOD results

AMRAP in 15 minutes of:

3 Power Cleans RX: 40/50 (I did 15KGs)
15 Wall Balls (I did Russian Kettle Bell Swings)

Result: 168 reps

Day 27 Verdict:

I’m a bit gutted about my knee. Tomorrow I am going to do Cindy again because this is the WOD I did on Day 1 of 28 Days of CrossFit so it will be a good benchmark to be able to see my progress.

But, I’m also pretty darn excited that tomorrow is Day 28! This challenge really has gone super fast and I’m looking forward to seeing (and posting) all the results from the data I have been collecting (weight, resting heart rate, muscle soreness etc)

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I’m Done, And Officially Fitter Than I Was 28 Days Ago

So the big question is, will I continue with CrossFit now my 28 days are done? I honestly don’t know. I left the Box today feeling a bit weird to potentially be walking out of there for the last time. Why would I not go back to something that has definitely had a positive effect on my life in more ways than one? I do know that I miss the stretching and controlled strength I get from Yoga and Pilates, so I am looking forward to getting back into these again soon. Perhaps the best situation for me would be to find a way to combine these elements with CrossFit.

I had an interesting conversation with a work mate today. He asked if I felt a difference in my everyday life, my joking response was ‘well, I can carry a crate of beer up the stairs easily now.’ He replied that then I have missed the point – women are supposed to use their charm to get the beer up the stairs, and men are meant to do the carrying. I realise it actually sounds like a sexist comment  but he did have a point. I’m definitely not a girly girl but I did feel a bit more ‘dude’ during my 28 days. I was eating a lot more, apparently walking a bit more ‘dude-ish’, my physique has definitely changed – not dramatically but I have more muscles than I did 28 days ago and I was wearing less make up and heels simply because I didn’t feel like it. It isn’t a bad thing, but it is an interesting change for me – I don’t dislike this feeling but I’m looking forward to painting my nails, putting some lipstick on and ordering myself a glass of Prosecco with some chic mates sometime soon.

28 days of crossfit

WOD results


I did a 13 minutes version of Cindy to match the workout from Day 1.

5 chin ups (supported: green band)
10 push ups (knees)
15 squats

Result: 9 rounds and one rep in 13 minutes

Day 28 Verdict:

I really do feel pretty darn fit and generally pretty amazing right now. 28 Days of CrossFit was a lot of hard work but my body feels great for it.

I will be back soon with the before and after pictures and some fancy graphs showing the data I have collected from the experiment. But for now it’s time for me to have a glass of vino and say thanks for sharing my journey X.


Conclusions And Results

So what does doing a 28 day program of CrossFit feel like? What changes did I see in my body? Did it affect my general wellbeing? Did I lose weight? Would I go back? Did I actually get through it?

In general, my experience was positive – it helped with stress management, I was loving feeling so fit and I found it pretty easy to fit into my schedule. However, I’m not sure it is for me long term.

Mental Health

— CrossFit was a massive mood enhancer for me.
— I found that if I did a morning session I was calm and focused for the rest of the day.
— I did this experiment at a particularly stressful time for me and I think it had a really positive effect on my general mood and mental health.

General Fitness

— I really did feel fitter in my everyday life – it was easier carrying groceries upstairs, it was easier to lift things, I was less out of breath cycling to and from work.
— I can see how this feel could get addictive – I felt like a better / stronger version of myself. Super Mon.

Body Shape

The main differences I noticed in my body shape were:

— More developed outer quads.
— More developed shoulders.
— More developed rectus abdominis. Which basically means more of a pronounced 6 pack. This isn’t necessarily a good thing – for real core strength you need to strengthen the muscles under the 6 pack – pelvic floor, transversus abdominis, internal and external obliques…
— Smaller boobs – yep, my boobs shrunk slightly over the 28 days. This is not that uncommon when women participate in a fairly extreme training program.

Before And After Pics

You can’t see too much difference in my body shape, but there is definitely a small increase in tone, especially around my abs.

28 Days of Me Before and After - CrossFit
28 Days of Me Before and After - CrossFit

Adjusting To The Training

— It felt like it took about 1.5 weeks for my body to really get used to the training routine. For the first week or so I was extremely exhausted post training. About 4-5 hours after the session I was getting mild headaches and extreme hunger. By week 2 this was mostly sorted.

Timing / Frequency

— I was aiming to do 4 classes / week.
— I managed 17 training days in total out of 28.
— I started with a very intense programme – 3 days on and 1 day off but soon found that this was too much for me to maintain with my current schedule.
— One day on and one day off worked better.

Weight And Resting Heart Rate

— My weight increased slightly: 54.9 to 55.2. This was to be expected with the extra muscle.
— My resting heart rate went down: from 60bpm to 53bpm. This is quite a dramatic change over a 28 days period. ‘Normal’ resting heart rate is 60-100bpm, an athlete’s could be as low as 40bpm.


28 days of crossFit weight

28 days of CrossFit heart rate

My 5 Favourite Things About CrossFit

  1.  It really is so easy to do it – you pick a class and turn up. You dont need to motivate yourself to stay on a treadmill for 5 minutes more, or come up with a program to complete at the gym – you just turn up with an open mind and the rest is done for you
  2. Everyone was super nice. Way nicer than expected. People at CrossFit, in my experience, are genuinely passionate about fitness and super supportive and encouraging of their peers.
  3. Competitiveness – recording your results each session makes you more accountable for your fitness and progress. These are written on the whiteboard and published daily in a private facebook group. The reality is, no one was looking at my results – but it still makes you push that little bit harder knowing that these will be published at the end of the day – even in such a private way.
  4. The increased fitness gives you a kind of confidence. I read somewhere that CrossFit gives you a cape. And this is a bit how it feels. The things you need to deal with in your everyday life become more manageable when you have to do 200 single unders, 100 wall balls, 100 kettlebell swings and 50 burpees before work.
  5. Stress management – I felt more on top of things, more grounded, less anxious after a session.

My 3 Least Favourite Things About CrossFit

  1. Lack of variety – I enjoyed learning the olympic lifting but as a fairly petite woman I was also interested in learning more of the gymnastic elements – or doing more general fitness activities like swimming (which I was told was part of the program at my trial class)
  2. Not as much focus on true core strength. Now, here comes my Pilates rant…having a strong core (transversus abdominis, pelvic floor, interna and external obliques) is key for all movement and physical activity, and especially for injury prevention. I felt there could have been more focus and understanding on developing this. But, I guess that isn’t necessarily what CrossFit is – it is about getting out as many reps as possible to increase your strength and fitness, sometimes at the detriment of form. But, I did struggle to watch some of the bad form going on around me.
  3. I felt a bit more ‘dude’. Weird thing to say? Maybe. I apparently was walking more manly, I stopped wearing make-up and heels and was eyeing up things thinking – can I lift that? I am certainly not saying CrossFit turns you into a man, but I did feel more masculine during my 28 days.

Will I Go Back?

— Right now I feel like my body is screaming out for some controlled strength and stretching – so I have re-started my yoga membership and will continue with this for the next couple of months. I am not ruling CrossFit out for the future though as it really did have such a positive effect on my life.

Any Advice For Anyone Thinking About Trying CrossFit

— Just go. Find a few Boxes and go the the trial classes. You will soon work out if it is for you or not. It is definitely not for everyone – if you are injured it isnt a good option, but also in general this type of fitness is not everyone’s cup of tea. However, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it – especially for someone who gravitates towards things like yoga and pilates – so I would definitely encourage anyone who is thinking about trying it to just give it a go.

UPDATE: And, Did I Go Back?

….3 years on and I haven’t been back to one CrossFit class.