This week, join me as I face what is quite possibly my worst fitness nightmare: CrossFit! If you’re still following along, I’ll consider us friends by now. Only friends would let each other in on such a potentially mortifying endeavor.
I’ve never stepped foot in a CrossFit gym and, while I might not always jump for joy at the idea of working out, rarely does the sound of a particular exercise actually scare me. The truth is, if you’ve never tried CrossFit, there’s a good chance that you just don’t understand it. Some think it’s only for those with massive muscles or fans of a trendy no-carb diet. Others assume you’re not welcome in class if your BMI is even slightly above zero!
For the remainder of this article, throw out your misconceptions and be open to the idea of a new intense, yet effective, workout. Introducing, CrossFit Kampala.
Let’s start out with a little background on the owner and instructor. Kalyango Mohammed, known as simply “Mohammed”, is your typical fitness buff who’s been heavily involved in the Ugandan fitness scene for the past 13 years. Along with his personal training, he also organizes bodybuilding competitions around East Africa. Last September, he started CrossFit Kampala after receiving his certification in Nairobi.
Despite my fears and setbacks, I actually had a great time in his class! In typical “new kid” fashion, I got dropped off 15 minutes early… only it wasn’t my mom dropping me off, it was a boda! Same difference. I sheepishly signed-in at the front and waited on the picnic bench until an extremely buff Ugandan man walked through the front gate. In a moment of pure bravery I approached him and said, “You must be Mohammed! I’m here for my first CrossFit class.”
Luckily, during the first minute of talking with him, all of my nerves melted away as he explained more about the exercise. CrossFit, Inc. is a fitness company founded by Greg and Lauren Glassman back in 2000 that combines strength and conditioning exercises that are constantly varied, high intensity, and functional movement. At the beginning of each class, you’re given a circuit assignment with exercises and a number of reps for each. The result? A shorter, more intense style of workout that requires all-out exertion of your body, but doesn’t require all of your precious time.
As a beginner, Mohammed had me do three circuits of the following exercises: run 3 laps, 20 box jumps, 20 pushups, 50 jumping jacks, as many chin-ups as I could actually complete (read: one), 20 burpees, 30 crunches… and REPEAT! I finished my circuits after about 35 minutes and was dripping sweat and rocking a major side cramp. In other words, I felt awesome!
Most of CrossFit Kampala’s current clientele are expats of all ages but he’s confident it will expand into the African market in the near future. To squash the rumor that CrossFit is only for bodybuilders and fitness gurus, Mohammed assured me, “CrossFit is an excellent and ideal exercise for everyone from weightlifters to swimmers, dancers to rugby players! It’s for everyone and can be adjusted to fit your personal goal. You can lose weight, gain muscle, whatever your goal.”
Perhaps my only warning would be to those of you who have participated in CrossFit in your home countries. This is not a fully-stocked gym like you may have back home. Currently, CrossFit Kampala doesn’t have it’s own gym, so Mohammed’s classes meet Tuesday and Thursday nights at InMovement in Kansanga. The classes are held outside on the grass with little equipment. In fact, I highly recommend bringing your own yoga mat for the ground exercises because he only brings a few with him and they smell of other people’s sweat!
His class cost me 15,000 UGX and I think it’s a great value even for the short workout because Mohammed does a great job of acting as a personal trainer and keeping you on track with your circuits and fitness goals. Also, because it’s completely customizable for each person in class, it’s great for all levels, even beginners! While one guy does reps of lifting heavy weights, I’m doing pushups lifting simply my own body weight. It’s brilliant!
I definitely plan on doing more CrossFit in the future and I see why people find it so addicting. At the end of class, you have this incredible feeling of accomplishment because you’ve pushed your body to do things you swore it wasn’t capable of doing! Perhaps the best advertisement for the class is that if I can do it… anyone can do it. Hope to see you in class!
Schedule and Details
Address: InMovement, Plot 2239 Ggaba Road, Kansanga
Days: Tuesday and Thursday
Start Time: 6:30 pm
Cost: 15,000 UGX