Jo Warburton

“I have only ever done strength training and avoided cardio like the plague, but I noticed my heart rate was coming down from a peak of over 180 in the first few sessions, then I noticed I stopped saying ‘I can’t do this’ and perhaps a few other choice words!

“I began to look forward to it and even did a session on my birthday! It has now become part of my routine and the coaches are really supportive and encouraging. You never feel like the slowest or last in the class as each time you train you are competing only with yourself and seeing huge gains.

“I am not a gym bunny in tiny shorts and tops, but I realise I don’t need to be – I am fitter, stronger and more confident than I’ve ever been. I have definitely surprised myself and my family in my commitment to this. I’m proud to be a Coalville CrossFitter.”

Craig Smith said:

“CrossFit is essentially a strength and conditioning programme, and Jo came to it unsure about what to expect. Even so, she came with an open mind. This is so important. Since she has been training at CrossFit Coalville over the last few months, I’ve seen huge developments in all aspects of her fitness.

“Her cardiovascular capabilities have improved immensely and the beauty is she hasn’t lost strength at all. That’s the thing with CrossFit, you can still make huge gains in your resistance training and develop the other aspects of fitness at the same time.

“Every month, Jo pushes a little harder and achieves a little more. I feel like her CrossFit journey has just begun and she has so much more to offer the box! Keep up the good work, Jo!

CrossFit: Make Your Own Mind Up

CrossFit: Make Your Own Mind Up

If you are part of the fitness world in some way, whether that means going to the gym, taking part in sport or even just have a general interest in some aspect of it, the chances are you have heard about CrossFit.


Like most things situated in the vast arena of health and fitness, you have most likely already formed your opinion regarding CrossFit. Often, CrossFit is viewed like a thick spread of Marmite on a slice of toast. People either adore it or hate it. More often than not, the people in the latter camp have either never actually tired it from themselves, not researched it with an open mind or have probably heard their mate say, ‘CrossFit is a fad’, ‘It just creates injury’ or ‘they don’t know what they’re doing’.


As a CrossFit coach it goes without saying, I’m obviously an advocate for CrossFit and of course have a great appreciation for it. Here’s the thing; more often than not, and in my own experience working alongside people in CrossFit, coaches who take CrossFit classes also tend to be fully qualified personal trainers. Our expertise does branch outside the CrossFit methodology. A large majority of coaches have worked for several years within their respective fields, whether this be weight loss, resistance training or even something more specific like Olympic Coaching. They might choose to go down the CrossFit coaching route for several reasons, but the main one that sticks out is this; CrossFit works.


CrossFit is safe, it’s fun and most importantly, CrossFit gets the results clients and gyms try so hard to seek out elsewhere. In a similar ilk to those that don’t like it, I can’t say with certainty that you will. What I can say with clarity is you can’t say one way or the other without having tried it for yourself. It’s like me saying, ‘Hey, do you like tuna? You don’t, well when was the last time you tried it? Oh, you haven’t’. It only stands to reason that maybe you should give it a go first. Here’s a few simple reasons why.


Ultimately, CrossFit is a strength and conditioning programme. It aims to improve on all areas of fitness. When we think of fitness, we tend to have certain pictures flash across our mind. This might be the marathon runner, or it might be the hunky looking body builder you saw on the cable machine last night. It might be the hundreds of people we see competing in our favourite sports at the Olympic Games or it could even be the strongman pressing an 150kg log over his head. Each of these athletes most certainly has an area of sport and fitness that they are dominant in, but let’s consider a few things here…


Firstly, these athletes tend to practice one disciple and put all their effort into it. If the strongman want’s to deadlift 300kg, why on earth is he going to spend his time trying to get a sub 20 minute 5km run. Perhaps they might look at other areas of fitness too if their sport or coach advises them to in the aim of enhancing their performance, but otherwise they aim to master their craft. Their ‘fitness’ ends there, as impressive as it may be. I’m not saying this is a bad thing by any stretch. To reiterate, as a coach, I have huge respect for all athletes and sport who have specific training goals and needs. What I’m driving at here is this. Take the marathon runner and the strongman for example. The former can run a few dozen miles in a decent time without taxing their body too greatly but might struggle to lift a barbell over their head with any significant weight on it. The latter might be able to lift the heaviest atlas stone in the gym but would probably be out of breath taking a short 1km jog to the local corner shop for a loaf of bread. There is clearly an imbalance of fitness here. Remember, fitness should cover all bases, not just aerobic activity and strength. It also covers stamina, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance and accuracy. These are habitually areas of fitness that get neglected by regular gym goers.


Secondly, unless you are an athlete who is competing in your chosen sport, or an athlete working towards a competitive level, you shouldn’t be specific with your training. If you are pumping out 25kg hammer curls over several sets, then awesome, you probably have some tasty biceps. But please don’t put yourself in the ‘fit’ category. Realistically, what we do in the gym should reflect what we do in our lives outside of the gym. Our aim should be to build a better quality of life through our training, not hinder it. Becoming fit should mean not giving a damn about climbing 10 flights of stairs. There’s a reason no one wants to park on the top level of a car park; their current level of fitness rejects it. There’s a reason we try to park so close to the supermarket. Again, our level of fitness wants us to get away with the absolute minimum required. Most of us train to get fitter. This means we should cover all bases. When we actually take the time out to sit back and think for a minute, we realise that the reason we are training is for all-round better fitness, that better quality of life outside the gym. Unless you’re working towards competing in a specific sport, regularly playing a specific sport for fun or are just taking it up as a general hobby or  interest, you should be training for all round fitness.


CrossFit trains you to be the jack of all trades and master of none. This is a good thing. It’s true when I say you can row 5km with ease, deadlift over 100kg comfortably, run a 10km in good time, bench press your own body weight and still have a good level of flexibility and mobility. This is possible through CrossFit. I have seen it happen time and again with clients and members of my box. I’m still yet to see a member of CrossFit Coalville who hasn’t benefited from regular CrossFit training. A lot of our members have come from a background of resistance training without attention given to the other aspects of fitness, like cardiovascular endurance and flexibility. Through regular CrossFit training, not only have they improved on their previous strength PBs, but have also developed skills they never imagined having in other areas.


99% of us fall into this idea of wanting to train because we want a better life. We are normal people, with normal lives, with regular jobs who aren’t professional sports people. The majority of us go to the gym to achieve the same things, weight loss, muscle gain, cardiovascular improvement or even wanting to be part of a community. CrossFit is all of these things in one, no matter what your current level or ability, there’s a place for you in CrossFit. We don’t do the elitist attitude thing, we do open arms and education. We don’t expect you to know all there is to know about gym equipment, movement standards and how to achieve your goals. All we expect to do is for you to listen, take some qualified advice and work to the best of your ability to adapt these instructions. I’m yet to see them fail.


What CrossFit isn’t is unsafe or out of the ordinary. Those that seem hellbent on giving CrossFit a bad name always seem to fall into a handful of predictable camps. Most frequently, those apposed to CrossFit are the same people who train a specific sport. I have seen and heard this a lot within the body building community. If your sole aim is to train hypertrophy for aesthetic reasons rather than keep your body working the way nature intended it too, then that’s fine. I have a lot of respect for the hard work and time body building takes, but it seems unfair to snub your nose at CrossFit because it isn’t your sport. Respect is mutual. In CrossFit our aim isn’t to get ‘big’. That happens naturally whilst retaining our other areas of fitness. CrossFitters understand this. I think if you are training specific sports, it’s easy to knock CrossFit as the training is so different to that sport’s specific methodology.


The next thing I see a lot of is just a general misinformation and misunderstanding of CrossFit. Those that have formed an opinion against it have often based it on hearsay (likely to be a few words from a gym pall that falls into the sport specific category already discussed) or from a lack of general education. Let’s get one thing straight here; those that we see competing on the TV during the CrossFit Games have been doing it for years. They have been training a good portion of their lives to be able to compete at that level and often have a background in sport. In reality, the majority of people are using CrossFit as their weekly strength and conditioning programme without having years of experience. You don’t need the experience. You don’t have to be ‘fit’ to do CrossFit, rather the taking part in CrossFit itself will make you fit, no matter what your current level of fitness when you start.


Another huge misconception that is pushed around by those who don’t like CrossFit is how dangerous it can be for injuries. When it comes to fitness and sport, you can obtain injuries in any discipline. This will be a result of either bad coaching, the individual working outside their current ability or a misunderstanding of form and technique. If done properly, CrossFit is completely safe. The idea is that any workout is scaled to suit current ability, and the coach is trained to know and understand each one of their athletes’ competencies and develop them in a way that sees them achieve more every week without pushing them into injury. In this modern climate of social media, it’s easy to screenshot or repost an image of something wrong going on in a CrossFit gym and say, ‘typical CrossFit’. Chances are, if I was to walk into any sports hall, gym or event with a camera, find the right moment, take a photo and put a caption on it, I could quite easily convince a large audience that that sport was dangerous.


What I hope I have achieved here is to give you a quick insight, to help you approach CrossFit with and open mind, to help you understand that you should perhaps make up your own mind about it. Like anything in life, take the opinions of others with a pinch of salt and experience it for yourselves. If you are going to the gym to get fit, then CrossFit is the perfect way to do this. Try it. Make your own mind up. Educate yourself properly about it rather than just relying on the opinion of someone who hasn’t even attended a class. I have worked with doctors, mechanics, nutritionists, teachers and every kind of person in between and have yet to come across a single one who hasn’t said that CrossFit hasn’t helped them in their daily life. Keep your training functional, make it translate in practical terms. Make your training relevant. Unless you want to stand up on the stage covered in bronzer or lift logs with the likes of Eddie Hall, you should focus on all aspects of fitness. This is proper training. Again, make your own mind up for yourself.


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