Reebok has recently conducted their first ever CrossFit session in Singapore, taking place last Friday at the beautiful Marina Barrage and held in conjunction with the launch of Reebok’s latest training shoe, the Reebok CrossFit Nano 7.
Session was led by world class CrossFit athletes from Australia
It was led by Rob Forte, aged 30, a world class Australian CrossFit competitor and trainer, as well as Tia-Claire Toomey, aged 24, a national Australian weightlifter and an Olympian who had represented her country in the recent 2016 Olympic Games.
Having been in CrossFit for the past seven and a half years, Rob had initially been introduced to the sport through his father. Said Rob, “My dad told me to try it so I did. He had been doing it for a couple of weeks when I got into it, and have been hooked onto CrossFit ever since. My dad initially found out about CrossFit through the television show, The Biggest Loser Australia; one of the trainers there, Commando Steve Willis, had come from a CrossFit background.”
Tia, on the other hand, had come from a running background and she went into CrossFit because she had wanted to work on her fitness, and her fiancé told her to try CrossFit. Said Tia, “It took my running to the next level; I found I was getting faster and a little stronger as well. Then I started to enjoy CrossFit training a lot more, and I found I was doing a lot more CrossFit training than running. So I decided to go into doing CrossFit full time.”
That had been in 2013 when she had made the decision.
Session attended by invited CrossFit athletes, coaches and the media
Rob and Tia’s Reebok CrossFit session had been attended by invited CrossFit athletes and coaches from Singapore and the region, as well as members of the media.
I had participated in the session too, and being rather new to CrossFit at the beginning, I admit that I didn’t really quite know what to expect from it.
For the class, we had all been fitted with Reebok’s latest CrossFit Nano 7 shoes, together with a full set of Reebok training attire.
Our beginner’s class had been preceded by an advanced class, which I caught the tail end of… and it had certainly looked quite tough! So at that moment, I was just hoping that the trainers would go easy on us and give us a simple WOD (workout of the day).
As nervous faces from the media had assembled in front of him to start the CrossFit session, Rob had smiled, giving us all a short welcome speech. He said, “Thank you, guys, for joining us. If anything does not feel right when you are working out, then it is probably not, and you should let us know immediately.”
He then asked us whether any of us had done CrossFit before. As expected, nobody had raised their hand.
What CrossFit is all aboutRob added, “CrossFit is basically about functional movements at high intensity. We don’t repeat the same workout because we do not want the body to get used to doing the same moment all the time. So we shake things up and change the movements daily. This helps the body to adapt and you will be able to continuously see results.”
According to Rob, CrossFit movements are basically functional movements that the body is designed to do, such as squats, deadlifts and flipping of tyres. At the same time they are targeted at being high intensity, to tire the body out and make it sweat in a short period of time, just like most HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts at most local gyms.
And added Tia, “If everyone did CrossFit, they would see a huge improvement in the way that they feel as a person in terms of their health, movements and the way that they basically live life, because of what CrossFit can offer. It is not specially about CrossFit as a sport, but the movements utilised in CrossFit. For instance, CrossFit did not make up a squat, but the movements that CrossFit do, doing those on a regular basis can help to strength anyone and everyone.”
Squats: a basic CrossFit movement
Tia demonstrates to us, how a squat should be done.
So to begin with, Tia had demonstrated to us a basic squat is, explaining to us what we should and should not be doing. For example, the feet should be kept ideally shoulder width apart and the knees should not roll inside the foot, in order to maintain a good squatting posture.
As we then proceeded to try out the squat, Tia and Rob patiently went around the class, correcting students along the way, and ensuring that everyone was doing it right.
Following that, we then had tried to do squats with a six-kilogram medicine ball. Though this weight was not particularly heavy, I found that a lot of concentration was required in order to get the posture right, so as not to lose focus.
After that, Tia and Rob then showed us what burpees were, demonstrating a few for us on the spot, before asking us to do 5 burpees each, on our own. Again, they took the time to correct students who were doing it incorrectly.
The CrossFit WOD
Then after being allowed to catch our breath, the hard part was to come. We went on to the CrossFit WOD which had comprised of doing one minute reps each, of medicine ball squats, box jumps, rowing machine and then burpees.
We got into pairs during this session, with each person doing as many reps as possible (AMREP) for 30 seconds before handing the time over to our partners, whilst catching our breath in the meantime.
We had to repeat this circuit exactly three times without an additional break between reps.
Though the workout may have sounded quite simple at first glance as rather light weights were being used, it was definitely intense! In fact, after the first completion of the circuit, I was already panting heavily. But with the help of my partner, as well as seeing the others gritting their teeth and continuing to go for it, I managed to push through it.
Not very surprisingly then, the next day I had found myself waking up with aching muscles in my arms and legs!
Community aspect of CrossFit
After completion of the CrossFit workout, everyone had exchanged high fives and congratulated each other on making it through the session. No matter what our individual background, prior experience or level was, there had been a strong sense of camaraderie and togetherness.
This community aspect of CrossFit and the feeling of belonging, is what Rob and Tia both like the most, about the sport.
Said Rob, “CrossFit is a big learning experience where you learn a lot about yourself and your body. It will take you on a long journey where you are actually going to come out for the better.”
He continued, “At the same time, you are around a lot of people in CrossFit; you have to know how to get along with people all the time and start to discover a lot about your body and mind and how you think and react in certain situations. I love the self growth and learning experience that comes out of it.”
Tia, likewise, loves the shared camaraderie of CrossFitters coming from all backgrounds and walks of life. She said, “The community is so strong within the whole of CrossFit, that not only do you have your friends and family supporting you, but also you can have similar interests to people on the other side of the world.”
She continued, “Like today, we did not know anyone but we have met so many new friends, and people who can align themselves with us purely through a workout. We all have a common goal, and that was to be better than yesterday; I think that this is a phenomenal sport that allows everyone to come together and enjoy each other’s company.”
CrossFit is rewarding
Tia feels that CrossFit is a very rewarding sport too. She said, “It is also very rewarding when you do better and you get personal bests and you gradually improve. You can see that improvement and progression and that is what people live for. That is a special thing and I don’t think that a lot of people can say that they have had that opportunity.”
This though, is probably why the growth of CrossFit has been rapid over the past few years. Take Australia for example. Said Rob, “I started CrossFit in 2009 and back then there were not many gyms. I founded my gym in 2010 and it’s coming to seven years today. The next closest gym back in 2010 was half an hour’s drive. Now there is a gym located five minutes drive away. Within 15 minutes, I would pass three or four gyms. The growth rate is huge.”
CrossFit can complement running well
Tia had also shared that CrossFit is not necessarily done only as a sport on its own accord; it can also be paired well with other sports, such as running. Tia should know; she came from a running background, after all.
Said Tia, “To an extent, CrossFit can really help running. You know, through the exposure that you get, building a baseline of strength and a certain level of fitness. The more you do of only one particular sport, including running, well you adapt to that level of fitness and plateau. Then as soon as you apply a different load, then you will gain a new type of fitness. The beauty of CrossFit is that there are so many different types of sports incorporated into it; such as gymnastics, weight lifting, cardio, and so on. Athletes can thrive in it and tap into so many components and fitness levels; this will be positive for runners.”
She added, “However in saying that, the more athletes push themselves in the strength side of things, it could be a bit detrimental to their speed as a runner; because they will be getting a little bit heavier. So if your main sport is running, you could specially train for lighter weights and more explosive movements in CrossFit.”
This also applies to ladies who may be afraid of getting big and bulky by doing CrossFit; by keeping the weights light and focusing more on movement and overall conditioning, you will feel stronger but will not gain huge muscle mass – according to Rob.
And continued Tia, “That is the beauty of CrossFit; depending on your end goal and what you want to achieve, you can have a CrossFit programme that will taper into directing you towards just that.”
As well, Rob also feels that for runners, doing CrossFit regularly can help them to gain more flexibility and strength. He said, “Endurance running events such as marathons create very high impact on the joints. So if you strengthen the joints with CrossFit, and make sure that your mobility is there, then you are going to get less injuries and be able to run for many more years.”
Tips for CrossFit newbies
So then what tips does Rob have for newbies to CrossFit? He says, “Be patient and enjoy it. Make sure that you come up with goals and a strong reason why you will keep pursuing the sport, and stay consistent. Listen to your coaches and do what they tell you to do.”
He also added that you do not need to have a strong fitness level in order to take up CrossFit. Said Rob, “People think that CrossFit is too hard and that you will need to get fit before trying out a CrossFit class. That is not the case because you are working entirely at your own pace and taking your own time and everything will eventually come together.”