What is CrossFit?
CrossFit has been around for about 20 years but has become more popular in the last five. It’s an intensive exercise programme that includes running, cycling, weight-lifting, gymnastics and rowing. You can see I’ve been rowing from the callouses on my hands.
What’s the appeal of CrossFit?
I used to do a lot of running but when I started to get injured I needed to find another form of exercise. I tried CrossFit and was instantly hooked. I go to the CrossFit gym every morning at 6 am and about three evenings a week. There’s a great deal of variety in the exercises and there’s also a very strong community side. If there’s one person left at the end of the session, everyone will wait and encourage them to complete their programme. As well as exercises, we have competitions and barbecues, and we organise activities like beach clean-ups.
How does it help you unwind?
I’ve always used exercise to keep fit, but also to chill out and relieve stress away from work.
It keeps me well and balanced. If I miss a work-out I’m certainly a bit grumpier and have less energy. I’m less effective and not on top form.
What are the physical and mental benefits?
The work-out can be challenging. For example we do Olympic weight-lifting so the weights are heavy, and we also have to do the Olympic-style movements. So some of the exercises are difficult and you have to learn to get them right, and I like that challenge. It’s not just about getting physically fit though. All the science says exercise is good for your mental health and that it makes you feel good.
How does it help you deal with pressures at work?
When I go to the gym, it’s probably the only place where I don’t think about work. There’s a whole range of different people there and we don’t talk about our jobs or what we do at work. When I’m at the gym I’m just George, I’m not the Chief Medical Officer.
What’s it like when you’re absorbed in CrossFit?
It’s just good time out. I can forget all the worries and pressures. I can focus a little bit on me and I don’t feel guilty about that. I think doing some sort of physical exercise is a choice you make. Even when you’re very busy, you need to find a little time for yourself.
Would you recommend it to others?
Definitely. It’s a great way to exercise and there’s such a strong community. I wish I’d discovered it earlier.