For a simpler way to improve fitness give Crossfit a try


Crossfit. It’s the fitness craze that started life in America and is now sweeping the globe.

It is already practised in more than 115 different countries around the world, yet is still relatively unknown in South Yorkshire. Surprising really, given that its bare bones, no-nonsense concept is exactly the sort of thing we northerners embrace.

The method isn’t fancy, expensive, or reserved for 22-year-olds in skin tight lycra. Crossfit is about simply using your own body, and its motto – no machines, no mirrors, no egos – has made it a hit with down-to-earth people looking to break into a good sweat and get a good all-body workout.

“The whole point of Crossfit is performing functional moves from your everyday life, constantly varied and at high intensity, which produces amazing results,” said Crossfit trainer Andy Worswick.

“There is nothing faddy or novelty about Crossfit. Everybody from an Olympic athlete to your grandmother can do it because it’s about the same kinds of moves, performed at different levels.”

With that in mind, Active decided to put Crossfit to the test. In a Crossfit gym in Sheffield - known simply as ‘The Box’ - Active invited five 40-to-50-somethings to take up the Crossfit challenge.

For some, who didn’t know what to expect, it was a rude awakening, while others found themselves shocked at their own competitive natures. But one thing was for certain. All six ended their 30-minute session with Andy dripping with sweat and grinning from ear-to-ear.

“It absolutely killed me,” laughed Gill Murphy, aged 56.

“I’ve never tried anything like it before but I’d like to stick with it and see myself improve through the levels, building my strength and fitness.

“I like that you can do things at your own pace, but you’re all working together too, so seeing everybody else pushes you to do more when you think you can’t.”

The Active 40+ team finished their session with one of Andy’s famous Workouts Of The Day - a circuit which involved three consecutive sets of running, kettlebell swings, squats and push-ups.

“Oh it definitely brings out your competitive side,” said Chris Day, a 57-year-old technical team leader for the University of Sheffield.

“I was working through my circuit and I could feel myself watching some of the others and thinking ‘You’re not beating me’ and it made me work that much harder and push myself to go a bit further and a bit faster.

“I’ve been to gyms before but definitely don’t push myself the same as I did today. It was great having someone like Andy there to make sure you’re striving for that next level and not wimping out when it gets tough.”

45 year-old Mick Mason, of Loxley, started Crossfit a couple of weeks ago.

He said: “I’ve trained all my life and done a few triathlons, but felt I’d lost my way a bit lately and was looking for something new to motivate me.”

Two weeks in and Mick, Group Commander for Sheffield and Barnsley’s South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue, admits he is hooked: “The workouts are so different every time which makes it so challenging and enjoyable,” he said.

“Everybody is friendly and encouraging and it really gives you something to get your teeth into. And because of the way the workouts are structured - in levels - it never becomes easy, because the fitter you get, you simply take things up a notch. I can already feel a difference in my fitness and have even lost a few pounds.”

51-year-old Stuart Murphy, of Ecclesfield, decided to try Crossfit after he felt something was missing from his stale fitness routine. “I’ve had gym memberships for years, but being left to my own devices meant that my interest and commitment eventually dwindled.

“The spirit and community of this place is great and I really enjoy the fact that you can be in competition one minute and then helping and encouraging one another to finish the next.

“I love that, due to the different levels, a first-timer and the guy who’s been coming for months are going to get just as much out of it.”

First-timer Paula Hudson agreed. “This place has such warmth. Everybody is so friendly and eager to help everybody else get a great workout, which is just so different from every other gym I’ve ever been to, which has felt really intimidating and cliquey,” said Paula, 48.

“I was ready for something different and interesting in my fitness routine and Crossfit is just perfect.”

The Crossfit programme was created by US Coach Greg Glassman in 2000 and, today, is practised at more than 6,100 gyms around the world.

“You never know from one day to the next what you’re going to be doing and that keeps you on your toes,” said Andy.

* To find out more, visit CrossFit