It’s been seven of the longest minutes of my life. Behind me, trainer Andy Worswick is counting down the final seconds, 15...10...five.
My arms are screaming but I’m almost at the end of my final set and I use the last bit of energy I can muster to push myself up off the floor and back to a standing position.
“Time,” calls Andy and I can feel my body slacken with relief. Six rotations, I did it. My face is red and my limbs feel like lead weights. A gruelling workout in just seven minutes. This is Crossfit.
The fitness craze started life in America and has since spread to more than 115 different countries around the world, though it is still relatively unknown in South Yorkshire.
I’m at a Crossfit gym in Sheffield, known as ‘The Box,’ which opened just two months ago and is already making a name for itself.
The Crossfit method isn’t fancy, it involves simply using your own body, and its motto – no machines, no mirrors, no egos – says it all.
“The whole point of Crossfit is performing functional moves, that you need for everyday life – constantly varied at high intensity which produces amazing results,” says Andy as he shows me around The Box.
It’s minimalist to say the least and Andy nods when I point this out.
“A lot of people walk in the first session and they expect to see TVs and cross trainers and, they’re like, where are the machines?
“We use some very expensive Olympic lifting equipment, but the main machine in here is your body.
“Everybody from an Olympic athlete to your grandmother should be able to do Crossfit because it’s all about the same kinds of moves, but at different levels.”
Andy, aged 34, has worked in fitness for more than 15 years, in various gyms and health clubs, as a personal trainer and spin instructor, but he says – with Crossfit – he’s finally found his calling.
“After my first seven-minute workout, which left me in pieces, I knew I’d found what I’d been looking for,” he reveals.
“You come to The Box for an hour and you’re going to get expert coaching, you’re going to be pushed and encouraged, we’ll bring out your competitive side and you’re going to leave feeling spent, but fantastic.”
The Crossfit programme was created by US Coach Greg Glassman in 2000 and, today, is practised at more than 6,100 gyms around the world. A session usually begins with a warm-up, followed by some strength conditioning and ends with the Workout of the Day – referred to by those in the know as a WOD.
“This is a circuit that can involve anything from a run, followed by sets of kettlebell swings, squats, burpees, sit-ups and pull-ups,” Andy explains.
“But you never know from one day to the next what you’re going to be doing and that keeps you on your toes.”
My seven-minute taster session with Andy involved seven kettlebell swings, seven burpees and seven sit-ups – as many rotations as possible in seven minutes.
Andy adds: “Your body is the greatest tool you have in your journey towards fitness. We’re all about performance over aesthetics, so we don’t want people walking in saying ‘I want a beach body,’ we want them to say ‘I want to be able to run faster and push harder,’ The beach body is usually the pleasant side effect.”
And word is spreading fast. After just eight weeks in the city, The CrossFit ‘box,’ on Hoyland Road Industrial Estate, has already attracted a loyal crowd of followers.
Policeman Chris Priest came to try it out and says, two months in, he is an addict. “But there are definitely worse things I could be addicted to,” laughs the 29-year-old, of Rotherham.
“When I started, I could barely do three pull-ups, now I’m doing 20. I can run faster, my general fitness has overhauled - and in such a short space of time.
“Crossfit prepares you for life, it’s fantastic, and never boring. I urge the people of Sheffield to try it immediately.”
n To find out more, visit www.crossfitSC1.co.uk