CrossFit is a form of functional exercise fast gaining popularity among fitness enthusiasts across the world, and that is now taking Africa by storm.
Also promoted as a competitive fitness sport, CrossFit incorporates high-intensity training, including Olympic weightlifting, plyometric exercises, powerlifting, gymnastics and calisthenics. Founded by Greg Glassman and Lauren Jenai of the United States (US), it has over 9,000 affiliates worldwide, most of which are in the US. Africa is a relative newcomer to CrossFit, yet there are already 119 affiliates in South Africa alone.
CrossFit prepares your body for real-life situations involving strength, fitness and endurance, and it’s widely accepted that those who do this type of training are the fittest. This idea was created after the CrossFit community founded The CrossFit Games, a competitive event that claims the winner is ‘the fittest on earth’. Based on programs used to train policemen, firemen and military forces, one of the biggest things it drives is a sense of community.
Many women are reluctant to try it, but South African Nicole Seymour, who holds the title of ‘the second fittest woman in Africa’, speaks about how she overcame her fears, and how her goal is to become a competitive international athlete:
- What made you take to CrossFit?
- We were at home flicking through channels on ESPN and happened to come across the Games. It was awesome to see people doing crazy things and pushing their bodies to the limits. I love challenges and I remember saying to my husband that is something I would love to do. Shortly after, I fell pregnant with my second child so the Games became a distant dream. The following year, my husband decided to enter me into the opens so he didn’t leave me a choice. I was nervous but excited.
- What can you say with regard to women in CrossFit?
- I think it allows women to feel empowered and realize what they are capable of. Both men and women are treated equally. It’s phenomenal how CrossFit has changed so many lives. You get out of CrossFit what you want. You need to progress slowly and make it a lifestyle. It takes you back to your childhood and activities that everyone should naturally be able to do.
- Your thoughts on the stigma that ‘women who lift are masculine’?
- It is one of the biggest misconceptions. I say, try it and find out for yourself. Either you love it or you hate it. I have yet to find a lady that regrets starting CrossFit as it really impacts on so many areas of your life. You will find everyday activities such as carrying kids, shopping etc a lot easier and less stressful and your overall quality of life will improve.
I love muscles, so for me, it’s awesome. The most important part is to be happy and content with yourself. I can honestly say my physique is a lot smaller, leaner and more athletic since I have been doing CrossFit.