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CrossFit training 1, FitnessEd 0

June 30, 2010 in Uncategorized

Being the Fitness Editor on Health24 I am lucky enough to get to try out a lot of different fitness regimes and exercises that I would ordinarily not be able to do. I am not the only one at Health24 who has written up adventures in the fitness arena; check out some of our other reviews in our How we get fit section.

This time my latest fitness escapade is CrossFit and when I was approached by the guys from the Cape CrossFit gym here in Cape Town I jumped at the chance. It sounded like fun, something completely different to my usual gym routine and they say change is as good a holiday right? Or is that a haircut?

Either way, it’s good.Smile

I went to meet the CrossFit guys on Friday for my fitness assessment and to get a taste of what lay in store for me.

The gym itself is totally different to mainstream gyms in that there is hardly any equipment so the floor space is quite big.

There are of course some Kettle bells, barbells and a few rowing machines, but nothing like the bigger gyms where there are generally more machines than people on the floor at any given time.

Once there I met Jobst Olschewski, who, according to their website, is a CrossFit Level 2 Instructor and with specialty certifications in Olympic Weightlifting, Basic Barbell Training, Nutrition, Gymnastics, Running/Endurance as well as in CrossFit Kids and CrossFit Football.

So if anyone knew about CrossFit it was going to be him! Wink

After he explained everything to me about CrossFit and how the gym works and we’d established that I would need about 8 weeks to fully get the concept and see if it works, he made me do a fitness test so he could gauge how fit or unfit I was before my first class.

It was a fitness test unlike any other – almost like a full hour gym class on steroids and done in only a few minutes!

But it was fun. Really!

The fitness test

We started out with a 500m row on the rowing machine, followed by 40 squats, 30 push-up’s (my LEAST FAVOURITE exercise ever) , 20 sit-ups and 10 pull-ups (with a thera band because I’m sure we all realised by then that there wasn’t ANY way I was going to make 2, let alone 10 pull ups on my own!).

It. Was. Exhausting.

I started out full of gusto but could feel my legs starting to tremble a bit after the first 30 squats. And the fact that my chest was still a bit tender from the previous day’s gym class, my push-ups were rather lame too.

The fact that you don’t really get a rest between any of the exercises is also quite hectic – I mean you can rest if you want to obviously, but since you’re being timed it’s best to keep the rests quite short.

I did it in just over 7 minutes if i remember correctly. Which isn’t bad, but it’s not awesome. Definitely room for improvement there. But, as Jobst said, that’s why I’m there!

The first class

However, nothing could have prepared me for my first class on Tuesday morning. I had thought that my regular gymming and running would have made me quite fit. But it turns out CrossFit-fitness is a whole other type of fitness.

If fitness was an animal, CrossFit would be the king of the jungle!

The class started out with some basic squats and stretching but no sooner had the fate-tempting thought “this isn’t so bad” crossed my mind than we were given some strange and heart-pumping exercises to do. I’m not even sure how to describe them…

Ok, the first one we had to stand and then bend over and put our hands on the floor, then walk our hands forward, lower ourselves into a sort of press-up cross yoga-inspired cobra position and then push our bums up to the yoga-inspired downward facing dog position, then walk our feet towards our hands – and then repeat that until you reached the other side of the gym. I KNOW, right?

And just as I was getting the hang of that (ok, not really…) we stopped and changed to something else.

The whole class was like that, just as something started getting ‘easier’ you moved onto something else. Which is nice cause it stops you getting bored and it stops you getting into too much of a rhythm – which is good if you’re getting it right, not so much if you’re doing it wrong.

So from there we did some box squats and then moved onto walking lunges with a kettlebell. Sounds simple enough, but when you have to do dozens of them and then every minute stop to do something ominously named “Sumo deadlift high pulls” every minute for 10 seconds, it becomes exhausting.

My poor little heart was more than a little a-flutter after that. It was crazy. If I had been wearing my heart-rate monitor i think it might have exploded.

But again, it was fun. REALLY!

And man, did I sleep like the dead last night!

Today – well, today every time I go to sit down I can almost hear my ass screaming “NOOOOO……NOT ANOTHER SQUAT”. And although no-one at work has said anything, I do believe I’m walking a bit like a duck…

So this is definitely going to be a challenge. I will definitely blog about it though so watch this space. I go again on Friday morning so will let you know how that one goes too.

Has anyone tried CrossFit? There are studios in Joburg and Pretoria too so if anyone up there has tried it let me know!


Check out this YouTubevideo of a challenge that recently took place at the gym. It gives you a good idea of what the gym looks like – chekc out that amazing view! One of the best parts abotu training that early in the morning is that in between screaming muscles and sweaty faces you get to watch the most amazing sunrises!





Halfway to a half marathon!

June 29, 2010 in Uncategorized

It has only been roughly eight months since I started running (and enjoying it), which is why I am thrilled with the fact that last weekend Aimee and I completed our first 15km road race!

Woo hoo!!!

We were thrilled! And a little sweaty, as you can tell…. (my second medal!!)

It wasn’t easy but it also wasn’t as hard as I had thought it would be. And considering we usually only run a distance of roughly 8km, this was quite a jump. Especially for me, since I have never even run a 10km race…. jumped straight in the deep end with a  15km one! :-)

I wore the Second Skins compression gear and I think it really made a difference. Apart from the fact that it kept me warm on a VERY cold morning out in Mamre, it also supported my calves and the next day they weren’t even that sore. (You can read my review here). My hips were actually more sore than anything else but I think that’s to be expected.

The first 10km were fine, as were the next 2km, but the last 3 we really struggled with. I think by then our bodies were quite tired and my foot was a bit sore so I think I might need to check my running shoes. I have a feeling my foot slips in them and that’s what leads me to get an almost pins and needles feeling in some of my toes.

There were hundreds of people there though, so we weren’t the only crazies who opted for a 6.30am start on a cold Saturday morning over a nice lie-in.

And early on in the race we found ourselves running with some people from the Edgemead Runners Club who were running at more or less the same pace as us so we all sort of stuck together. They encouraged us and we encouraged them, it was quite nice.

The last km we ran as fast as our little legs would carry us, which was much faster than I thought they could but the cheers from the residents of Mamre and the crowd have such a strong psychological impact you almost feel like you don’t want to let them down.

Yeah I know, it’s hard being a people-pleaser :-)

Anyway, the high that comes with finishing a race is a reward all on it’s own. But it’s still ncie to have another medal to add to my collection of one.

Next stop – a half marathon by the end of the year. Not sure which one though, any suggestions?

We’ve also signed up for the Cape Winter Trail Series which should be fun, I miss trail running. I have optimistically signed up for all the long courses but we will have to see how that goes…

Music and workouts, a match made in heaven!

June 17, 2010 in Uncategorized

A study has shown that ‘pounding tempo music’ can really amp up your cardio workout and get you working harder and faster than you intended without you even realising it. You can read about the study here.


Although it’s mostly common sense – I mean who wants to do a spinning class listening to a love song by Boyzone? Not me :-(


Perosnally, I’m more of a hardcore rock fan when it comes to workout music (check out my last post on running to music here), especially when I’m running. (I can only imagine my expression when I’m running – red-faced and angry-looking hahaha!)


But if you’ve ever been to a spinning class at the gym, you will know that the music is generally of the ‘doof-doof’ variety. It’s not generally my style, but I must admit the beat does keep you inspired and when your muscles are starting to feel a bit weak there’s nothing quite like a strong, up-tempo beat to get you going again.


What music do you listen to when you workout?

Running in compression gear

June 15, 2010 in Uncategorized

 Ok, so I have now been for a few runs in the compression gear I mentioned in the last post and I must say, as sceptical as I was before, I am suitably impressed.

The first long run I went for was on a rather chilly Sunday morning so I decided to try out the long trouser-ones. It felt very strange at first because I’m not sued to wearing something that is quite so tight. But then again they are called ‘second skins’ so the name should really have tipped me off there :-)

It took a little getting used to, but I was most impressed with how little I felt. Which is a good thing – I wasn’t overly aware of them and once I got into my run I was pleasantly surprised that they didn’t make me too hot.


As I’m sure most people do – I get very hot when I exercise, but it actually hampers my workout if I start feeling TOO hot. And I was a bit concerned that wearing long pants, even though it was a cold day, would make me feel hot. But they lived up to their promise and not only kept me warm, but cool at the same time… they seemed to absorb the sweat so I didn’t feel any discomfort, but they were virtually bone dry when I took them off.

The verdict

As for the compression side of things, by no stretch of the imagination am I a professional athlete, so I cannot pass comment on how they would be for people who run or take part in sport professionally. For me, however, they were great.

I tend to have weak calves, which really hampers how long and far and fast I can run and often means the day after a long run my legs are very sore and I feel like I ran in stiletto heels. Yet the day after I went running in the compression gear my legs were actually fine.

Whether that had anything to actually do with the compression gear I’m not sure, I’m not a scientist :-) But the fact is that the next day my legs were not sore and that’s good enough for me!

And on the appearance side of things – because I am a girl and when you’re all red faced and sweaty it’s comforting to think that at least your outfit looks nice – the compression gear gets a 9/10. It’s comfortable, slimming (really!) and it LOOKS super sporty and professional, which means that even if it’s just psychological, I find that if I LOOK the part then I FEEL the part; and that can only be good, right?

I still need to try out the top, which I will hopefully get to this week sometime, so watch this space.

Has anyone else tried them? Love it? Hate it? Lemme know…

Compression gear

June 2, 2010 in Uncategorized

So I have been sent a few items from the Second Skins people to review and I was just wondering if any of you sporty-folk have made use of compression gear and what you thought of it?


So far I have been for a run in the shorts, which are extremely comfortable, but I am waiting for the weather to cool down a bit before I try on the long pants and shirt as I tend to get really hot when I exercise and if I feel uncomfortable it ruins the whole experience for me. Although the suits do promise to keep my skin dry so perhaps it’s worth a shot…


The compression ‘socks’ might look a little odd but the more i think about it the more I think they might actually help me run more as my calves are usually the first thing that starts hurting and prevents me running too many days in a row.



Here’s what they look like: 





The one thing they are is very flattering!! And that alone would be enough to sell it to me! :-)


By the way, have you checked out FitnessDoc’s latest offering on barefoot running? Very interesting! Check it out here. And let me know your thoughts on compression suits… we will be holding a competition in the next few weeks where we will be giving away a full compression outfit, so watch this space!


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