Ng U-Jin used to think that running long distances was the best way to measure one’s fitness, so he regularly signed up for marathons and ultra-marathons. However, all that changed when he discovered Crossfit workouts.
“When I first started doing Crossfit, it was a really humbling experience and I found myself challenged to new levels I’ve never felt before. I thought I was very fit, as I was also competing in muay thai. But I got smashed at the start,” says the 28-year-old, who is now head coach at Crossfit Red Dot. “It truly tested my fitness, from stamina and strength to speed and agility.”
Describe your first time doing Crossfit
I ached the same way I did after a full marathon, even though the workout of the day, or WOD as it’s also known, was only an hour long. Despite the struggle, I found it very challenging and self-rewarding, so I kept going back. As you start to lift heavier weights or run faster times, you get more and more addicted. I now train five times a week aside from coaching.
How does running fit in, then?
There are WODs that incorporate running in a variety of ways. It can be intervals as short as 50m, or runs as long as 10km. For example, one particular workout I do consists of five rounds of 400m runs with 15 overhead squats. The distances run during training are arguably more applicable to daily-life situations, such as running after the bus. It isn’t just about lifting weights; Crossfit helped me develop a wide spectrum of physical fitness from cardiovascular endurance to strength and conditioning.
As a fitness coach, what are some common challenges your clients face?
They usually find it very hard to start exercising. For example, many people think they are not fit enough to do Crossfit, or use that as an excuse. And yet, at least in the case of Crossfit, pretty much anyone can do it, as it’s scalable and the workouts can be modified to your strength and fitness levels. My clients have said they feel stronger and have more energy to go about their day-to-day activities.
In other words, just running alone isn’t enough?
Running is one of the easiest ways to get your fitness regime started. It’s convenient and you don’t have to pay for a gym membership. But I’ve never found anything as challenging as Crossfit. To me, it’s not just a sport but a holistic lifestyle that also includes good nutrition and staying mobile. There’s also a community aspect to it. Doing workouts with a group of friends can be fun, and it’s a good way to start exercising. If you enjoy doing it, then it becomes part of your lifestyle. Then it becomes a habit, and it’s as simple as putting on your shoes and going out.
Words by Cheryl Tay