4 Coaches Share Their Tips For Getting Started With CrossFit
4 Coaches Share Their Tips For Getting Started With CrossFit

4 Coaches Share Their Tips For Getting Started With CrossFit

CrossFit is a high-intensity fitness programme that incorporates weights, bodyweight, running, HIIT and rowing. It may have a reputation for being a guy’s workout, but its many benefits are too good for women to ignore – and actually, more than 60% of CrossFit participants in the UK are women. We went to four coaches to find out why they got into CrossFit and their tips for getting started…
By Tor West

Claire Parke

Co-founder & coach at BearWalden CrossFit

CrossFit may seem overwhelming, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. I gained five stone after having children and was a size 18. I tried everything to lose the weight – swimming, running, HIIT classes, spinning, you name it. The truth is, I never really loved exercise. I found it incredibly hard and was never naturally good at it. My husband, who was in the military at the time, introduced me to CrossFit. I quickly realised you didn’t need to be good at it – there’s always an adjustment that can be made. It can be modified for any fitness level – there’s always something you can do and need to work on, even eight years down the line. Plus, the benefits are like nothing else. I’m the strongest and fittest I’ve ever been, and have lost five stone in the process.

Start by signing up for a foundation programme. Most CrossFit gyms will offer introductory, one-to-one sessions with a coach to teach you the movements. This will give you the knowledge – as well as the confidence – to get the most out of a class, stay injury-free, and know when to scale back. It’s important for you to know your physical limits. Know what your body is capable of and by all means push yourself, but listen to your body and stay in your own lane.

It's changed how I view exercise. The impact of CrossFit for me has been physical and mental. Previously, I’d only seen exercise as a way to lose weight. Now, I see it as a way to be strong, functional and healthy.

To reap the rewards, you need to prioritise nutrition. CrossFit is intense – it’s an equal mix of cardio, strength and gymnastics – so you need to fuel the body properly. You’ll need plenty of carbs for energy, adequate protein to maintain and build lean muscle, plus healthy fats to support your nervous and hormonal systems. Nutrition is key to reap the full rewards and something you’re encouraged to do. Keep in mind your cycle, too, and consider taking a rest day or focusing on stretching and mobility on low-energy days. The menstrual cycle plays a huge role in how we perform and recover.

CrossFit has been an essential part of improving my mental health. After having children, I struggled with my identity and mental health, but CrossFit made me realise I’m more resilient than I thought. There’s a real sense of community – I’ve made friends for life and feel I’m part of something special. I’m more motivated than ever; I love moving and I love improving my physical health, all of which feeds into improved mental health.

My top piece of advice is to drop the comparison game. Celebrate every single win. Whether it’s just showing up or your first burpee or pull-up – the achievement is yours. Be kind to yourself, patient and consistent, and you’ll soon be hooked.

Visit BearWaldenCrossFit.com

Jess Rosart

Gym manager & coach at WIT Training

CrossFit is a workout like no other. I first discovered CrossFit in 2010 in Ontario and immediately fell in love with the methodology and how challenging it was. Fast-forward a decade and I’m a completely different person because of CrossFit. The confidence you gain inside a CrossFit gym – from your first deadlift to being able to run that bit faster – trickles into your whole life. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve heard members and clients say CrossFit has positively influenced their career by giving them confidence to go for a promotion or apply for a new role. 

There’s a real community vibe. The CrossFit community is unlike anything else out there – it’s uplifting and shows women they can be strong, both physically and mentally. I appreciate it can be daunting to turn up to your first class, but you’ll be surprised at how encouraging and supportive everyone is. You’ll feel motivated to grow and progress by the people around you. Book yourself into a few different classes and see what works for you. Don’t be afraid to try out different locations.

It’s surprisingly hard to become bulky. One of the most common misconceptions I hear from women is that CrossFit will make them bulky. If bulking up was that easy, I’d look a lot stronger after doing CrossFit for nine years. You need to be in a significant calorie surplus and be in the gym for hours every day to build bulk. Instead, focus on performance and getting fitter and stronger. 

I plan my highest carb meals around my training. This ensures I have enough energy to get the most out of a session and helps kickstart recovery post-training, too. I also aim for around 2g of protein per kg of bodyweight. Together, this allows me to consistently progress each week. Sleep is also a key part of recovery. If you feel like you’ve hit a plateau or are struggling with low energy, listen to your body and take a hard look at your sleeping patterns.

Visit WIT-Fitness.com

Charly Rhodes

PT & coach at Orangetheory Fitness & brand manager at boobydoo

There’s always something new to learn. I had just finished a second season of competitive bodybuilding when I discovered CrossFit through a friend at the gym. I was ready for a change to my training outlook and was instantly impressed by the coaching at my local CrossFit studio, as well as the structure of the class, which included strength training followed by cardio. It felt like an efficient workout but one that I could also learn from. I’ve not looked back since. What I enjoy most about CrossFit is that it provides a place for me to be competitive against myself – can I lift more weight this week? How can I make my technique better? There’s always something new to learn or something to improve.

There are no entry requirements. CrossFit may look intense, but it really is for everyone. It’s important to remember the coaches are skilled and experts in the field – they’re dedicated to helping you, whether as a beginner or an advanced athlete. Every CrossFit class is full of people of different ages, abilities, gender and background, and you’ll find everyone wants to help, and encourages each other to improve.

The addition of gymnastics makes it unique. CrossFit has a unique ability to improve fitness while encouraging muscle building and strength gains. It balances resistance training and cardio perfectly. But for me, the secret sauce is the gymnastics element. Being able to move your own bodyweight under control is a tough skill to master. It also develops your shoulders, back and core, giving you a more toned physique.

It’s worth the investment. A CrossFit membership comes at a premium to a standard gym, but you’re paying for skilled, qualified coaching, with a strong underpinning of knowledge of the sport and science behind the training. A successful CrossFit class will make you feel like you’ve had a tough and rewarding workout – from beginner to elite.

Visit Boobydoo.co.uk

Grace Lilley

Co-owner of Motion

It was learning new skills that got me hooked. Ten years ago, I was getting into the gym and enjoying training but felt lost without any sort of goal. When someone told me about CrossFit, I did some research and was instantly intrigued. What really attracted me was the variation in training and learning new skills – whether it was hitting a PB on a squat or achieving my first pull-up. I’ve never been bored in the gym since, and could never go back to a ‘normal’ training routine. Shifting the focus to performance-based goals has brought so much joy to my training.

It’s about effort, not how much you’re lifting. A good CrossFit programme shouldn’t have you hitting maximum intensity every day. Be sure to take a couple of rest days a week, as well as using one of your sessions to focus on technique or skill development. This will ensure your training is sustainable, not just a short-lived hobby. 

Don’t believe the myth you need to be fit to start CrossFit. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, I’d say a CrossFit gym is the perfect place to begin a fitness journey as you’ll be coached from start to finish, ensuring you learn proper form and technique before levelling up.

Visit MotionTraining.co.uk

DISCLAIMER: Features published by SheerLuxe are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. Always seek the advice of your GP or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programme.

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