Beginner Guide CrossFit

Summary: In this blog series Alain shares how he experienced CrossFit for the first time. Covers the exercises, the pros and the cons, throughout his journey.

Wake Up before Dawn

Author: Alain Buffing
Reading time:
 10 minutes

‘I look at my alarm clock, it says: 05:55’, why am I up so early? Normally I come home around these times in Dublin during the weekends. Not today. I have my first Crossfit appointment scheduled at 07:00. My trainer Eoghan has told me to wake up at least an hour earlier. This way I can eat my breakfast and have sufficient time to digest before we start our session. Welcome to CrossFit.

A week earlier I got off the phone with Eoghan from Perpetua Dublin. He explained to me that before he can let me into the CrossFit Class, I will have to d a ten-day personal training program with him, also called the fundamentals program. The idea is that during the fundamentals program, I will work with Eoghan, as opposed to just throwing myself into Group Exercise classes (This helps to avoid injuries).


Fundamentals Program

During the Fundamentals Program, Eoghan will look at my general fitness, the way I complete the different exercises with special attention towards lower body, core, and upper body. The idea is that during the fundamentals program, I will develop a relationship with this personal coach who will constantly work with me to help me reach your fitness goals. Whoever thinks that CrossFit is only for the rich and famous is quite right, the personal lessons don’t come cheap, the Fundamentals program is 600 euro for 10 x 1-hour session and afterward, you will be able to participate in the 150+ euro monthly roaming membership to join the CrossFit Classes.


What is CrossFit?

Let me give you a quick summary! CrossFit is a core strength and conditioning program. The CrossFit program is designed to elicit as broad an adaptational response as possible. CrossFit is not a specialized fitness program. It is rather a deliberate attempt to optimize physical competence in each of ten recognized fitness domains. They are as follows:

  • Cardio Endurance
  • Strength
  • Flexibility
  • Power
  • Speed
  • Stamina
  • Coordination
  • Agility
  • Balance
  • Accuracy


Promoted as both a physical exercise philosophy and also as a competitive fitness sport, CrossFit workouts incorporate elements from high-intensity interval training, Olympic weightlifting, plyometrics, powerlifting, gymnastics, girevoy sport (WTF is that?), calisthenics (no clue what this is either..), strongman, and other exercises. It is practiced by members of over 13,000 affiliated gyms, roughly half of which are located in the United States. Everybody completes daily workouts (otherwise known as “WODs” or “workouts of the day”). That is where the comes from #WOD y’all.

“When I train, I erase all the limits and expectations of what I can do. I am powerful and anything is possible.” – Camille Leblanc-Bazinet, Crossfit athlete.

CrossFit enhances an individual’s competency at all physical tasks. Athletes train to perform successfully at various, random physical challenges. One-Hour-long classes at gyms, or “boxes” as they call it in the tribe, typically include a warm-up, a skill development segment, the high-intensity “workout of the day” (or WOD), and a period of individual or group stretches.

Some gyms, like Perpetua in Dublin also often have a strength focused movement prior to the WOD. Performance on each WOD is then scored and ranked to encourage competition and to track individual progress.

The CrossFit Dollars

Greg Glassman and Lauren Jenai created CrossFit ss a branded fitness regimen in 2000. The original CrossFit gym is in Santa Cruz, California. The first affiliated gym opened CrossFit North in Seattle, Washington. There are now over 13,000 CrossFit gyms, or “boxes”, as you call them worldwide. The athletes have turned CrossFit into a cult that has similarities with the Scientology Church, as everybody who practices Crossfit can only talk about practicing CrossFit.

“Hiding from your weaknesses is a recipe for incapacity and error.” – Greg Glassman, Founder of CrossFit

The brand generates some $5 billion in annual revenue and the main drivers of CrossFit’s revenue are the $3,000 annual fees operators of its gyms pay and the $1,000 seminars where box owners explain the CrossFit philosophy, demonstrate the nine fundamental movements (variations of squats and power lifts), and show how to design a workout-of-the-day and teach CrossFit to beginners.

Glassman retains complete control over the company after a divorce resulted in his estranged wife, Lauren, attempting to sell her share in the company. Glassman was able to obtain a $16 million loan from Summit Partners to buy out her share. Good for him as his net worth is more than 100+ million euro.


My first CrossFit workout session

To emphasize before going into my evaluation, I am not a super fit athlete like Nanning. At The Temple we split athletes into 3 categories: A, B, and C. Where Nanning would be an A, having around 10% Bodyfat, running Marathon’s under 3 hours and exercising 5 times a week, I would be more of a category B. I work out 3 times a week in a Gym. I play 5 aside football with work on a regular basis. Occasionally do a half marathon, where  finish it around the 2 hour mark. My body fat would be around 17.5%. I want become slightly more muscular and lean in the coming months, so I can become a Body Type A, with visible Abs. Anyways, let’s talk about the workout!

Workout components:

  1. Small Warm Up and Briefing (5 minutes):
    Eoghan talks me through the exercises we will be doing in the muscle groups. We also start every workout with a 2-minute rowing exercise.
  2. Stretching and more intense Warm Up (15 minutes):
    Eoghan shows me the stretches I need to do, next to a proper warm-up. The reasons are that any athlete will have a better session with the weights and equipment after these 15 minutes and will also greatly reduce the risk of an injury. Muscles we try to warm up today are the Hamstrings, the Hips, and the Triceps. Stretches we are doing include the hip flexor stretching, the couch stretch, and regular hamstring exercises. To have a good blog on stretching, have a look here.
  3. Strength Session (20 minutes):
    This is the part where you work on your technique of various exercises. Increase your strength that will help you during the grueling WOD sessions later on. Eoghan works with me on three fundamental lifts: the back squat, the Goblet SquatS and the strict press. These classic “big rock” movements are absolutely essential for any athlete. They build strength in your upper and lower body, as well as in the supporting musculature of your core. He tell’s me “This program is intense and designed to shock the system”.
  4. Exercise (10 minutes):                                                                                                                Now let’s move to the fun part,’ Eoghan tells me. ‘What? We are not done yet?’ I ask him. I am literally more tired from these 35 minutes exercises than I was during any of my own Gym sessions. We work on cardio and try to get the body rate up while doing the exercise. He tells me we will do 3 sessions of the following circuit: 250-meter rowing with high intensity, followed by 10 sit-ups and 10 burpees. Before I tell you the feeling during and after these 10 minutes, I emphasize that I finished half marathon’s under 2 hours. Also participated in football tournaments where I played 3 to 4, 1-hour games on a day, so I think I know what mental toughness is.

This, however, is a whole different ballgame. During the first round after 6 burpees, I am done. I can’t do it anymore. My concentration is gone. My technique is suffering and I am sweating my balls off. Eoghan keeps on cheering me up. With lots of sweat and resistance, my body makes it to the second round. Now the dying starts. My body doesn’t want anymore.

The adrenaline kicks in and I am pulling myself through it. When we finish the second round, I know we are 2/3’rds there, which gives me a mental boost. Packed with Adrenaline and about to puke we finish the round. Alain Buffing has officially been Knocked Out by a Rowing Machine and some body weight exercises.

 “Look in the mirror. That’s your competition.” 

The cool thing about Crossfit is that it will kick your ass! And for some reason the ass-whooping is so good, you’ll go back again the next day. In fact, you’ll spend 50 minutes with a personal trainer warming up and learning various new exercises, and then you spend the last 10 minutes getting hit by an A380.

And the strange things is, you will gladly pay the premium for these 10 minutes of torture. You will crawl out the door feeling you need to vomit, and you’ll think, “That was awesome!”

Perpetua Dublin

The Critique

In this blog post, I will give many reasons on why to join CrossFit. However as with any opinion based article, I also list the negative points. Since for me, I’ve only been blown away with a positive feeling after my first session, I will highlight five reasons, why Crossfit maybe couldn’t be the right option for you, as taken from the website, How to Beast:

You have:

  1. PSpecific fitness goals. If your goal is to score 3 punters during your basket ball game or want to finish a round of golf on par, Crossfit is probably not your best training.
  2. Postural issues: Issues with hip mobility, shoulder tightness, or other muscle imbalances don’t make it the best fit.
  3. No experience doing barbell exercises: Crossfit incorporates a lot of compound barbell movements and you would need a PT in order to train them with you.
  4. Not fully recovered from an injury: Crossfit isn’t corrective exercise, if you have an injury it will likely only make your pain worse.
  5. No access to a solid CrossFit gym: CrossFit is so intense that going at it without a lot of experience and without a good coach is a recipe for disaster.

Pick CrossFit with these objections in mind and if you are injury free, have access to a good gym and a goal of becoming more fit. The objection with the compound barbell movements is something you can tackle with a good Personal Trainer. I am terrible when it comes to Deadlifts. This is something Eoghan and I are focussing on during our Fundamentals Program. Together with a correct squat and pull up techniques.

So to summarize the 5 big benefits for me to join CrossFit at Perpetua

To be quite frank, I would have loved to join CrossFit earlier if possible. However, I never had the money in order to do so. Or … to re-frame that, I never prioritized my fitness and health in order to pay top dollar bill’s for it. Now that I am earning a bit better and I have money left in the bank . I spend a chunk of my discretional income on Premium Nutrition Products, Supplements, and High-Quality Training. If you can, spend it on the Fundamental Program and the first 3 months of CrossFit. These would be the reasons why I would reccomend it for you to join:

Personal Attention.  Even though it is pricey, I like the fact that you spend 10 hours with a Personal Trainer before hitting the CrossFit Class.

Community-Based.  CrossFit makes use of a strong community model. This makes it easy to meet plenty of cool new people.

  1. Focus on Power instead of BMI. Eoghan thinks BMI doesn’t matter. ‘In here it’s all about how much you lift’, I like that, no posing Gym bunnies.
  2. Competition.  I am super competitive and I like the way you can manage your fitness progress. It inspires you to work hard when you see your score displayed on live rankings compared to other athletes.
  3. Humor.  It’s not as funny as the locker room jokes in football, but the guys at Perpetua are very cool and the jokes make you forget the muscle pain!

That concludes my first try at Crossfit. I will be blogging about the next sessions and my experience as I enter my first WOD. I hope you found this blog useful and I would love to hear from you. Let me know what your thoughts are towards CrossFit and if you would ever consider it?

I am already curious if that A380 is waiting for me tomorrow on my second day!