A Buffoon’s Guide to… CrossFit


Disclaimer: if you’ve ever read any of my stuff before, you’ll know better than to expect anything that’s even vaguely sensible, mature or rooted in reality. These Buffoon’s Guides follow one golden rule: I don’t really have a clue about the subject and I refuse to do anything to remedy that before I write about it. My research is solely based on “stuff what I reckon” with a sprinkling of “stuff what I dreamed”. So then…

 What is CrossFit?

CrossFit is described as “both a physical exercise philosophy and a competitive fitness sport”. They also use words like “scalability”, at which point I gave up trying to do any serious research and wrote this handy guide instead. In a nutshell, it is strength and conditioning for people who are a bit cool.

History of CrossFit

CrossFit was devised in 1975 by Orville Crossfit, although it was initially called “Jumping and Lifting”. It was originally intended to be used in federal prisons as a way of tiring out some of the angrier inmates, to the point where they couldn’t shiv anyone. However, its popularity quickly spread and it is now one of the world’s best-loved fitness systems, even more popular than badmington.

Where to do CrossFit?

You can’t just do CrossFit in any old place, like a field or a nunnery or the set of the 1989 movie “Weekend at Bernies”.  You have to do it in a gym. Only, if it’s CrossFit, you’re not allowed to call it a “gym”. You have to call it a “box”, because urban.

But how to tell whether your local gym is a regular run-of-the-mill gym, or one of these CrossFit temples of sweat? There are a few things that will give it away as the latter…

  • At least 500 square metres of chain link fencing.
  • A flickering lightbulb for people to sit broodingly1 under post-workout, in an otherwise darkened room, looking all “ooh, that was a tough workout”.
  • A vast selection of definitely-not-sexual straps.
  • Motivational slogans stencilled onto the bare concrete walls. Examples: “Go hard, or get yourself off home”, “Work harder, you big idiot”, “Changing rooms closed for maintenance”.
  • So very many kettlebells.

Training Methods

CrossFit tends to forgoes a lot of the traditional gym stuff in favour of more esoteric training methods. These include:-

  • Throwing a bag of cement while going “Raaah!”
  • Using a tractor tyre for something other than its intended purpose.
  • Juggling sledgehammers.
  • Every pull-up in the world, ever.
  • High-fiving and calling each other “Dog”.

That last one isn’t really an exercise, but it is VERY important.


You’ll often here CrossFitters (abbreviation: “Critters”) going on about “WOD”. This stands for “What (would) Orville Do?”, in memory of CrossFit’s founder and spiritual leader.

CrossFit Games

On the first Saturday in April, millions of CrossFitters descend on the sleepy village of Grafton Underwood for the annual CrossFit Games, which is basically a weekend of board games and jigsaw puzzles. It’s the chance to unwind and get away from all that exercise nonsense for a couple of days, with everyone sitting around guzzling ginger beer and eating warm scones before finally getting back to the press-ups on Monday morning. It’s usually a very friendly affair, although a shadow was cast over the 2009 event when two of the Danish attendees got into a fist fight over a particularly heated game of Kerplunk.

1 I’m more than a little bit surprised that “broodingly” is a real word. Maybe it isn’t. Maybe I’ve just pushed my spellchecker to the point where it just doesn’t care any more.

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5 thoughts on “A Buffoon’s Guide to… CrossFit

  1. Of course “broodingly” is a proper word, it was invented when Aiden Turner graced our screens as Ross Poldark.

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