CrossFit has become a global exercise phenomenon in a short space of time.
Founded in 2000 in the United States and promoted as both a physical exercise philosophy and a competitive fitness sport, CrossFit workouts incorporate elements from high-intensity interval training, Olympic weightlifting, plyometrics, powerlifting, gymnastics, girevoy (kettlebell) sport, calisthenics, strongman, and other exercises.
The first Crossfit gym in NZ was opened in 2008 and today, there are 110 CrossFit gyms (or boxes to employ the CrossFit lingo) around the country.
The New Zealand Institute of Sport (NZIS), NZ’s largest provider of sport, fitness and recreation qualifications has embraced the benefits of CrossFit. In October they ran a series of competitions in Wellington that allowed secondary school athletes to compete against some of New Zealand’s top athletes.
Some of the athletes who took part in the CrossFit Challenge program included both NZIS students, graduates and other top Kiwi athletes: Lote Raikabula (NZ Sevens), Willie Tufui (Wellington Rugby Academy), Andrew Blake (Wellington Phoenix), Halley Sims (NZ Karate Champion), Georgia Daals (Wellington Pride Rugby), Ruby Finau (Wellington Pride Rugby), Reuben David Friedlander (NZ Underwater Hockey), Clementine Marshall (former NZ rower) and Ali Koko (former professional rugby player).
The schools involved in the competition were: Upper Hutt College, St. Patrick's College, Naenae College, Wellington High School, Heretaunga College, Bishop Viard College and Tawa College.
With the final event held at Tawa College, the last competition was won by two of their students: Caleb Rapson and Lumafale Lualua. Year 12 student Rapson explained how he became involved: "Lumafale needed a partner. His original partner withdrew," he laughed.
The contest was no laughing matter. Six pairs of two had to complete a series of gut-busting exercises as part of an AMRAP Crossfit workout. In 10 minutes a circuit of 10 press ups, 15 sit ups, 20 squats and a grimly named 'suicide run' which involved sprinting 40-metres, bending down and touching two marked stripes had to be performed. The team that completed the most rounds in the allotted time was declared as the winner.
Rapson says he can't remember the score, but admits the competition was "intense." Lote Raikabula and Wellington Rugby Academy member Willie Tufui provided the sternest resistance.
"It was real cool to be able to compete against those guys. We look up to them," Rapson said.
Rapson played union and league for his college. He missed much of this season after suffering a broken thumb in a tackle. He lost some motivation to train, but said the CrossFit contests have reenergised him.
"CrossFit is really good for you, especially good for cardio. I am just getting back into the gym. It feels good to be fit."
Willie Tufui, who competed for NZIS in all of the contests, really enjoyed the experience and felt well prepared due to the great training discipline learnt through NZIS and his rugby.
"I was buggered by the end of it, but it was great to see so many students interested and competing at a high level. CrossFit is great socially and especially for your health," he said
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