Adventure Nomad

Adventure Nomad

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Cult of CrossFit

Pulling the sled around the block at CrossFit Singapore.  Photo by Laura Liong
Tucked away in a Kallang industrial estate amidst motorcycle workshops is a small, gritty gym.  It's called Crossfit Singapore and it's run by 32-year-old Kevin Lim, or 'Coach' as he is called by his 70+ members.  The gym has been running for two years, and its members pride themselves on having the most intense workout of any commercially available program.  "Your workout is my warmup", they like to say.  Indeed, having followed the program for just over three weeks, I can attest to it's intensity and it's effectiveness.
Coach Kevin cranking out some pull ups.  Photo by Laura Liong
Workouts range from gymnastic movements, olympic weightlifting and sprinting.  Among the more unusual tools used include sleds to pull loads around the block and monster truck tires.  Workouts are constantly varied, so the body doesn't get used to them, but they are also very short.  The longest workout is about 25 minutes, and a typical workout lasts around 15 minutes.  The key is the intensity, and Crossfit can really ramp it up!  For those 15 minutes, your heart will be working at near maximum capacity!  It's an intense blend of strength training and aerobic conditioning, and is definitely not for the faint of heart!
CrossFit Culture.  Photo by Laura Liong
CrossFit has its roots in founder Greg Glassman's garage about 40 years ago.  It has evolved to become the world's fastest growing fitness movement with a culture of its own.  Its gritty, no frills, take-no-prisoners style is not for everyone.  About 80% of new participants drop out.  Practitioners who stick with the program include not only elite armed forces all over the world, but also grandmothers looking for a way to boost functional strength and have a more active and productive life.

How can this be?  Can grandmothers really participate in workouts that "are universally regarded as being the toughest workouts in every athlete's experience."?  Coach Glassman says that "the needs of our grandparents and soldiers differ in degree, not kind.”  Those needs would be to build a broad and general functional competence, in such movements as squatting, picking things up off the ground, putting things overhead, pulling ourselves up, running, and jumping.  The key to the all-inclusive nature of CrossFit's training program is the ability to scale, or tune the workload to match each individual athlete's abilities.

Richard performing the Snatch, an Olympic weightlifting movement practiced in CrossFit.  Photo by Laura Liong
How does one get started in CrossFit?  The best way is to start is with an affiliate gym to learn the movements.  If there isn't an affiliate gym nearby, go to  The WODs or Workouts of the Day are posted online.  Instructions and videos are also available on the website to help learn the movements.  Most importantly, take the first few workouts easy.  Scale down the loads if you need to, and take the time to learn the mechanics of the movement.

One thing is for sure, CrossFit has changed the way I train.  Permanently.

CrossFit Defined:
CrossFit is a strength and conditioning system built on constantly varied functional movements executed at high intensity.  The aim of CrossFit is to develop total fitness as defined by these ten physical skills: cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, coordination, agility, balance, and accuracy. 


Dr K said...

Excellent write up Buddy. You should be paid to write like this :)

Lionel!! said...

Wow, awesome pics of the wall of shame, coach, Rich and you! Nice write up as well. Should be attuning myself to be of such standards! Woohoo!

Unknown said...

Thanks guys!

Sherlyn said...

Great write-up and awesome pics! All the best for Everest!

Sherlyn said...

Great write-up and awesome pics! All the best for Everest!

Richard V said...

Awesome Kenneth, I will be looking forward to your Mt Everest write-up, good luck!

georgina said...

Inspirational read !

Jen said...

Great writing and fantastic pictures Kenneth! Am sure you're having the experience of a lifetime right now, looking forward to hearing tales of your adventures when you return!

Unknown said...

Thanks everyone. I'm packing up to leave Nepal for China tomorrow. The adventure begins!

Pronolo. D said...

=) all the best! and awesome cool pics!

Silvester Samonte said...

Great piece of work Ken and Laura I'm adding your blog to my weekly rounds.! Have a great climb Ken.