I was introduced to CrossFit Auckland in May 2009 when they opened in Albany on Auckland’s North Shore. I was to be working with CrossFit Clients teaching Zone and Paleo Nutrition principles.
It would be rather crazy for me not to be training the same way as my clients. So with a little trepidation – I had looked at the website and saw hard out exercise done by what looked like crazy fit and sporty young people. I was neither young, fit, nor sporty. No athletic gene had been passed on to me. And as much as I told myself I should do a lot of exercise, my trips to the gym were very infrequent, and my fitness had seriously lapsed.
Alex at CrossFit Auckland assured me that every workout was scaled in weights and numbers of repetitions to suit the fitness and strength level of each participant.
I did my first workout, “Filthy Fifty” 50 repetitions of 10 different exercises, except mine was scaled down to 30 of each. I huffed and puffed my way through finishing the same times as the others who did the full workout. For the next 2 days I felt exhilarated, and a little sore. Twice a week I pushed my body through a huge range of different exercises and workouts. Some were weight focused, some included gymnastic movements like ring dips and pull-ups, some had running interspersed with weights or other exercises. Never boring, always changing and challenging. Hard work, yet fun with a small group, looked after by an eagle eyed trainer, always correcting movements and pushing me just enough.
I got stronger, fitter, and discovered a whole lot of new muscles.
Why do I call it an anti-aging programme?
First it is short workout, often 20 – 30 minutes. When you exercise past an hour you send out increasing amounts of cortisol and stress hormones. These hormones are aging.
Second when you lift weights and do intense anaerobic work you trigger the release of growth hormone. Drops in growth hormone are part of the aging process, and this leads to loss of muscle mass, thinner skin and fat gain, especially around the abdomen. When you trigger growth hormone your metabolic rate rises and stays up for some time, burning fat and building muscle.
This is indeed what happened, together with eating a paleo diet, my weight barely changed, yet my measurements went down – especially around my trunk (classic weight gain when older). My muscles firmed up and grew so much stronger.
The beauty of CrossFit is that the exercise equips you well for the real world, building strength in the trunk especially, weakness here leads to bad backs. Most gyms focus on training single or a small set of muscle groups, fixing the rest of the body in order to work on those muscles. These exercises come from body building, and while they make muscles more defined and stronger in one particular pattern of movement, this does not fully equip you to cope with the complex movements in the real world like picking up a heavy bag of compost from the boot of your car – a whole body movement.
I can lift heavy boxes, sprint after my kids, hike up a hill, and feel equipped to handle many more physical challenges that come my way.
That’s not typical as people age – normally we see weakened muscles, declining trunk muscle strength, bad backs, saggy arms, flabby thighs and tummy.
What amazed me is that these results happened for me in just 2 sessions per week. Never in any other programme could have achieved so much in so little time exercising. For me this is perfect. Cardio vascular fitness, strong and toned muscles everywhere, and triggering anti-aging growth hormone. What more could I ask for?
(There are a number if CrossFit Gyms now in New Zealand – a search will find the one closest to you)