Tag Archives: Crossfit

My First CrossFit Throwdown

“One of the greatest moments in life is realizing that two weeks ago your body couldn’t do what it just did”

So when I came home to Australia last I decided to give CrossFit with my old trainer a go instead of the boxing training that I would have gone back to normally. It has been five months and I am physically stronger than I have ever been. That said, I am still nowhere near strong enough to do half of the Olympic lifts to the standard weight. I can do unassisted pull ups now, but not consistently. And it is the same for toes to bar and double unders (those of you who do CrossFit will understand).

The thing that kept me with CrossFit, was that it was hard. For years I thrived on the feeling that you had worked so hard and so fast with boxing training that you could barely stand. You had nothing left in the tank to give because you had given your all. And in a different variation of movements and exercises, I found that again in CrossFit.

Source: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/478226054151205827/

So my friends who have been doing this way longer than me and are way better at it than me said “You should enter the competition”, to which I initially was like ‘noooo waaaayyyy!’ Since my little adventure on the Overland Track, I have been stretching, rolling, at massage therapists trying to get my hips and back into shape after becoming pretty tight and out of whack. They still aren’t right and so I still can’t do things to the capacity I used to. But after a wine and a whole bunch of peer pressure my “Aversion to the Word NO!” kicked right in and I am finding myself online and paying up my registration fee…….

The workout was released a couple of days before the event and I had a total meltdown. It consisted of 3 rounds. A 10 min AMRAP of 7 deadlifts, 5 hang cleans, 4 front squats, 3 hang snatches and 2 overhead squats for reps. Follow this up by two and a half minutes of rowing for meters. Then a 10 minute AMRAP of “Annie” with a run at the start. “Annie” is all double unders and sit ups.

I am not overly good at any of these moves other than sit ups. I am way better with the gymnastics movements like pull ups, box jumps, burpees, toes to bars…. and so my meltdown began. I went to the gym two days before the event to see a friend who stayed with me for a while and taught me how to do a snatch properly. Criticised my techniques for things and helped me to get to a point where I believed that I could. After that I stood and stared out the window for an hour and a half going over double unders over and over again. They were marginally better than before. A sense of calm and purpose had set over me. I felt readier than I had ever been. I knew what I had to do now, and I knew that I could.

I woke up with a bit of a cold at 4am the day of the Throwdown after an entire night pretty much of dreaming about snatches (and not the female genital variety, the weightifter’s variety… sorry for all you boys out there – fantasy shattered!) Everything was ready to go, I got my gear and I caught my lift to Devonport.

After arrival, we checked in, they wrote a giant M52 on my arm and I went to warm up and get sorted. The first of my events was to be the row. Without much of a warm up, I sat on the machine and full on gassed myself for two and a half minutes. To the point where I rolled off the rower when I was done onto the floor and stayed there for about another two minutes. Jelly legs and a shaking body had earned me a 654m row and 654 points towards my total tally for the event. It then took me another ten minutes of rolling around the floor for any kind of controlled functional movement of my body to kick in, that is how gassed I was from this row. I couldn’t have given any more.

The second event I was to go into was the first AMRAP with the Olympic Lifts. I chose the 15kg bar scaling option and set my sights on a round a minute or completion of 10 rounds. It was tough, my forearms burned and my body ached but by the end of it, I had managed 10 and a half rounds or 224 reps for that round. After deducting my 30% from this due to the lower weight penalty, my total was 156.8 to add to my row.

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Overhead squats…. my favourite! Not!

The last event for the day was the “Adventurous Annie”. This was to be a 705m run with obstacles through the end of it, followed by the double unders and sit ups. Now as somebody who does not run well, I paced myself, got back with five minutes to spare to work on the double unders and sit ups. I managed to get 114 reps for the AMRAP. My day was done. My total points tally came to 924.8. It was enough in the points ranking to place me about 14th out of the girls but as I had scaled, I was not allowed to compete in the final 16 girls for the contest. Probably a good thing too because after only 5 months of CrossFit, I don’t know whether it would have been achievable for me.

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Part of the “Adventurous Annie” obstacle course…. giant tyres.

The first final was a 10 minute AMRAP of 3 rounds of 15, 16kg for women and 24kg for men, kettlebell thrusters, one bell in each hand, and 15 chest to bar pull ups followed by 3 rounds of 15 toes to bar, 15 box jumps and 15 bar muscle ups…. It was a brutal display of courage. Most of the women didn’t finish the first three rounds and most of the men got into the fourth round if they were lucky. It was one of the most courageous displays of athleticism I had seen and 3 women and 5 men from our gym went through to compete in this before they decided the top 6 men and women.

When results came through, we had two boys in the top six for the final. It was to be a strong man contest. Deadlift 200kg ten times, then lift and carry it 12 meters before pushing a sled across the lawn for 20 meters with 160kg of weights piled on it followed by a 50m sprint. One of the boys from the other gyms managed to finish this in under a minute in what was one of the craziest displays of strength I have ever seen. Our boys did well and we were all incredibly proud.

It was an amazing day all round and I had a great time. The whole CrossFit community is really supportive of each other and it is something that I am happy to be a part of. It is like a family.

This is my CrossFit family

There are not too many challenges that will push you to your physical and emotional limits. Together we laugh, we cry, we scream, we yell, and at the end of it all, we go get drunk! (OK, well I don’t because I am too busy laid up on the couch with raging chest infection and cold exacerbated by competing…. but ordinarily…. 😀 )

5 Different Ways to Challenge Yourself Daily

“There is nothing like a challenge to bring out the best in man” – Sean Connery.

Most people reading this aren’t off in the grand world traveling and constantly having different challenges thrown at them everyday like I usually do. And I currently am not off gallivanting around the world with all the wonder that change and the road offers right now myself. But there are different things that I do at least one of everyday to challenge myself and keep the stagnant at bay! Try to incorporate these small things into your everyday lives to challenge you, keep the boredom at bay and help you feel great!

Experiment With New Food

One of the biggest things that I miss from the road is all of the incredible food that is on offer. That said, I came back from Europe with a huge list of foods I had eaten that I wanted to try and replicate at home. While some of these have been a disaster, I have managed to stumble on some amazing recipes for different foods such as Hungarian Paprika Chicken, Spanish Tortilla, Polish Bigos….. and so the list goes on. So I encourage you as a part of your daily challenge to once a week, pick a country, find a recipe for something you haven’t tried before and cook it. That simple! If you aren’t too much of a fan of different world foods, maybe try a new cook book or a different recipe for something you already cook. Variety is the spice of life! So start your week by challenging your taste buds and cooking skills!

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Trying my hand at beetroot soup in Poland.

Do A Puzzle

Everybody has heard of the saying “if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it”. And this is true of the neural connections in your brain. Scientists have discovered that when you are a small child, in the first five years you develop billions of neural connections that are designed to function for the rest of your life so that you are able to perform different tasks. Many of these neural connections will sever with age if you do not continue to stimulate these pathways as the brain attempts to conserve energy. Never fear though, with brain training and neuroplasticity, we can continue to stimulate our neural pathways, sometimes making new neural connections with the right kind of training. This is important, especially as we get older, to ward off brain diseases such as Alzheimers’ and dementia. When I was living in Toronto, I used to go to The Centre for Brain Health at one of the hospitals and they used to pay me a little bit of money to do puzzles and other activities whilst either wearing an electrode cap to measure my brain waves or being on and MRI machine to detect the highest functioning areas of the brain whilst doing particular tasks. Some of the information they gained about memory, brain function and degeneration was incredible and I will write another post about my experiences with this at a later date (so follow me if you want a notification!)

Doing a puzzle or two a day will help to keep you sharp. The key to choosing your puzzles though is to choose different ones. Right now I have a small crossword puzzle book and I do a crossword each night before bed. These are great for stimulating recall pathways and associations. I also bought an IQ test book on the road with hundreds of different types of puzzles to challenge spatial awareness, mathematical skills, language skills, memory and logic. There are many different programs that you can find on the internet that help stimulate brain growth and neuroplasticity as well so get jump on them. Just don’t fall into the age old trap of doing sudoku after sudoku after sudoku. Once you have learned the techniques required for solving a sudoku, it no longer poses an adequate enough challenge to keep the brain growing. So keep it mixed up. Do different types of puzzles and crosswords to keep you thinking.


Many people go to the gym and fall into the same standard routine of exercise every day they go. Exercise is about betterment of the self. And to get better, you need to set small goals and slowly work your way towards achieving them. Currently I do Crossfit, a constant daily challenge with yourself to be stronger, faster and fitter. The people I train with are super supportive and we will often compete against each other in a friendly way to help push each other to be better. It helps when you have a partner to train with. So if you train on your own, maybe try starting up a conversation with someone you see all the time at they gym and ask the train with them. They will keep you honest and make you work harder.

My current challenge is to get to be doing strict pull ups with my own body weight by the end of the year. In February when I started I was using twice as much resistance as I am using now, so I am working towards achieving that goal, slowly but surely. Everyday though is a small challenge within the larger challenge. Today I do one or two more reps than I did yesterday. I try stringing more together at once than I did yesterday. Eventually it gets easier, and you can move to the next small step within the push towards the greater goal.

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Lifting like a boss. Crossfit 14.5 Open Workout

Start up a conversation with a stranger

It is easy in this technology-driven world that we live in to get caught up with what is online and not what is in front of you. I challenge you every day to look up and put the phone away. When you go into a coffee shop and order your morning coffee, instead of texting/checking emails/standing around not speaking and waiting, start up a conversation with your barista or another person in the queue.  Ask them how their day is going and make a joke. Pay them a compliment. Trust me when I say that you will feel better about yourself and your day for having made a small effort to strike up a new conversation. That person will also most likely feel better about themselves if you can make the simple effort of saying something to make them smile. Who knows, with time you may even end up with a new friend. And it will certainly help you develop some awesome conversational skills.

Do A Kind Deed

We have covered challenges that are good for the body and good for the mind. It is also great to incorporate challenges for the soul. No matter how small or how insignificant it might seem to you, try and do at least one kind deed per day. This could be something as small as helping somebody pick up something that they have dropped on the ground. I am a grand believer in the idea of paying it forward. Over the years I have met many amazing people that have bestowed incredible generosity and kindness upon me during my travels and in life in general. I am so grateful for the amazing help and support that I have received that I feel it my duty as a human to pay this amazing kindness forward. Whilst I was walking the Overland Track, a six day, 90km hike in Tasmania, I met two guys who were transiting back through my home town. So I went out for dinner with them, showed them to a local pub with original music for the night and in the morning I picked them up and drove them around to see some of the sights before I dropped them off at the airport. Something I have had others that I barely know do for me and I have appreciated it hugely. That and I also find great enjoyment in meeting new people and helping them to enjoy my hometown. While your daily kindness doesn’t have to be of such a magnitude, every kind deed regardless of size is important.

I honestly believe that if people work towards being kinder to one another and towards being more grateful for the things they have in this life, then the human race together will be working towards being a better species. And it starts with you! So help someone. Make them smile. And then hope they too will pay it forward.

So venture forward into your week! Do something out of the ordinary, cook something new, do a puzzle, help a stranger and have a chat to them and push yourself when you exercise to be better. Be a better version of yourself! I challenge you…..