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Need a challenge? Try CrossFit, the new cult craze that’s spreading fast across the UK.

Description: CrossFit

Cam an all-encompassing, time-saving, virtually free workout that can be done anywhere and at any time really exist? Bu your estimations CrossFit pretty much ticks all these boxes.

CrossFit was born in 2000, when American fitness expert Greg Glassman applied his work with police cadets to everyday fitness training. Having also worked with body builders and athletes, he realized the best way to get results was to combine elements of weight training (curls, leg extensions and lateral raises) with long and short periods of high intensity aerobic efforts. There are now more than 3, 400 dedicated CrossFit boxes (the name given to these gyms) worldwide, but if you’ve never heard the name until now, then watch this space, it’s about to explode in the UK.

What is CrossFit?

Description: CrossFit boxes devise their own WOD for clients during scheduled classes, where everyone follows the same workout

CrossFit boxes devise their own WOD for clients during scheduled classes, where everyone follows the same workout.

Essentially, CrossFit is an intense strength and conditioning programme with cardio circuits thrown in. The beauty of the programme, says Reebok CrossFit trainer Steve Bradshaw-Haydock, is it incorporates so many aspects of exercise. He believes CrossFit is the only workout you need because it covers cardio, combat, survival, resistance, plyometrics, bodyweight and endurance exercises. One minute you’ll be doing heavy weight exercise and next you’ll be sprinting for 400m.

The workout of the day (WOD) is set by CrossFit each day and is posted online at crossfit.com. You simply train wherever you are. CrossFit boxes devise their own WOD for clients during scheduled classes, where everyone follows the same workout. A CrossFit box is similar to regular gym, with its cardio machines and weight-training area, but you’ll find extra free space in the center for more functional exercise.

What should you do it?

Description: The high intensity of each exercise engages your fast-twitch muscle fibres, increasing your muscle power and performance.

The high intensity of each exercise engages your fast-twitch muscle fibres, increasing your muscle power and performance.

“If I could describe CrossFit in three words they would be community, variety and intensity,’ says Bradshaw-Haydock. CrossFit has the ability to make you fitter and stronger, as well as boosting your endurance, stamina and speed. The high intensity of each exercise engages your fast-twitch muscle fibres, increasing your muscle power and performance. And it’s guaranteed to be short and sharp, unlike other gym0based circuit classes – usually lasting around 10 minutes!

They key is to keep correct form throughout. TC presenter Christine Bleakley is a convert to CrossFit. ‘After my first session I can honestly say my arms felt more toned,’ she says. ‘Some of the exercises I’d never done before, such as pull-ups on the bar, but it’s these exercises that your body isn’t familiar with that will get you results fast.’ Most CrossFit do three consecutive days of training then have a rest day.

Regardless of your fitness level, the CrossFit programme can be scaled to your ability. One CrossFit commenting online at crossfit.com says he does the workouts with his 71-year-old father.

Motivation is one if the key elements of CrossFit. If you finish the WOD before the person next to you, you’re encouraged to rally round them as a team to motivate them through the workout. Plus, you’re encouraged to track your progress by noting down how long it takes to do a WOD or how many steps of an exercise you manage in the specified time, which is another great motivator. ‘If you don’t track your results, you won't see your progress,’ says Bradshaw-Haydock. ‘We want our workouts to be measurable.’

How do I start?

Description: ‘We want our workouts to be measurable.’

There are currently more than 70 CrossFit boxes across the UK, set to double within the year. To find you nearest, visit crosfit.com. You can try the workout by logging on to crossfit.com where you’ll find every WOD for the past 10 years. All WODs can be adapted to where you are. Switch exercises to suit your fitness level; if you can't do burpees, try squat thrusts instead.

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