Sister Act: CrossFit TO consultation

Erin demonstrating a reverse lift.

What: CrossFit consultation
When: Tuesday @ 1:30
Where: CrossFit Toronto (32 Logan Avenue)

Erin’s story:

Thanks to American Ninja Warrior, I am obsessed with all-purpose fitness. Bootcamps, parkour and crossfit seem to be all the rage. And if I want to not die during the Toronto Urban Warrior 10k, I figured it was time to give this kind of work-out a try. Then I learned that the CrossFit Toronto gym was a) close to my house and b) offered free consultation and a free first class. I was in!

Jill and I signed up for a consultation the day after we got back from Nova Scotia with no idea what to expect. It was the hottest day of the year, we were both exhausted from our trip and — let’s face it — neither of us do a lot of strength training or conditioning. Gillian, the trainer assigned to us, sat us down. We walked through our fitness routines, then she gave us a tour of the gym. The gym had a similar vibe to the boxing gym we went to a few weeks ago: manly, stuffy and sweaty, with lots of scary-looking equipment. But Gillian was there to convince us that we had nothing to be afraid of. She walked us through what a regular crossfit class was like: the routine is on the board; come early, warm-up, do the routine as fast as you can. When you finish, cheer those behind you on, cool down and get out. CrossFit is all about intensity.

After we had a better idea of what to expect when we take a class, Gillian showed us some basica crossfit moves: pole stretching, squats, push-ups, rowing, tricep dips, backbends, and the dreaded pull-ups. What I liked about this segment was that Gillian stressed form, form, form. It was beneficial to be walked through how to do a correct squat and push-up. That alone made the consultation worth it.

Once we got the basics down, it was time for our crossfit test. We were expected to finish the following in 5-10 minutes:

  • 500 metres of rowing
  • 40 squats
  • 30 situps
  • 20 pushups
  • 10 pull-ups

I loved the rowing even though my machine was broken and I just had to assume I was done when Jill was done. The first 20 squats were okay, but the last 20 were hell. And it was hard to keep my chest up and arms out. So tiring! The situps were easy, the pushups were okay — although I cheated and did pushups from the knees because I wanted to focus on form. Then came the pullups. I cannot for the life of me do pullups. In fact my pullups were so bad in the demonstration segment of the consultation, Gillian made me do ring rows instead. Jill, on the other hand, could do pullups like a pro. At least I finished faster than her. It’s all about small victories.

In the end, Gillian spent almost two hours with us, and it was just supposed to be a one hour session. She was patient, helpful and full of information.

What I liked about CrossFit was that it’s about useful fitness and intensity. What I didn’t like about Crossfit was the gym atmosphere. I’m not the biggest fan of using props in my workouts (this is true for yoga as well) and I’m into the dirty, industrial gym environment. That said, I could see adding crossfit to my fitness once or twice a month.

But Jill and I still have to take advantage of our free first class. Then I’ll know for sure.


Jill doing a pullup.

Jill’s story:


I liked CrossFit. I liked it a lot! I think what really sold me was the fact that firefighters and policemen and women train doing CrossFit. Which is completely understandable now that I actually know what it is.

My first introduction to CrossFit was through my old roommate Shannon. A colleague at her work convinced her to buy a Daily Deal or Team Buy or one of those things for a CrossFit boot camp. I couldn’t for the life of me understand why she enjoyed it, but Shannon was hooked. Then my buddy Ken (at Moksha Downtown) spent a day raving about how awesome CrossFit is. Oh my goodness, what is this CrossFit and why do people love it so much?! I was so confused. And also petrified. Isn’t CrossFit crazy intense, and scary, and involve people yelling at you? I hate all these things. I would clearly hate CrossFit. So I blocked it from my mind entirely. But, oddly enough, I still secretly wanted to try it.

And CrossFit is expensive. I can’t afford the membership Shannon was paying when she joined, plus the nice and calmness of the JCC is more my style. But like I said I was still intrigued. Then what really pushed me over the edge was talking to my friend, and yoga teacher, Rachael Kess who is now a CrossFit addict. Once and for all this had to happen! Lucky for me Erin, through her Urban Warrior obsession, discovered CrossFit TO.

Here I’ve foolishly thought Erin’s been racking up these freebies for us through the blog — our FitStreets class, this CrossFit TO consultation — turns out we weren’t invited because of the blog. Oh well. One day… this is my dream. But still these are free fitness things, people. So give them a try if you’re looking for things to do.

I was nervous for CrossFit, excited, but mostly terrified. Was a very large scary man going to make us throw tires around, do millions of push ups then run and sweat until we cried? To my surprise, we did none of those things. And Gillian was not a very large scary man. My versions of CrossFit were completely inaccurate.

To my surprise the setting was very welcoming. Where Erin did not like the super gym feel, I did. Maybe because I surprised myself by actually doing a real pull up. I feel that was my induction into CrossFit this day. I love the gym and love working out. But my biggest challenge is not knowing what to do. Gillian walked us through proper techniques of basic exercises that anyone can do at any gym, anywhere. But now I know “how” proper technique feels, it changes everything. CrossFit TO also didn’t reek of the stuffy gym feel that you get a most gyms. It felt tough and intense, but in a good way, like I really wanted to work. That’s always good because how many times do you drag yourself to the gym, not really wanting to go? I’m a victim of this too. With CrossFit the energy was contagious and not misleading. All very good things and reasons you should not be afraid to go.

CrossFit TO is sort of a mix between a gym and a studio. It’s designed for you to drop in for class and not necessary spend your time working out as you please. I get it because the mindset behind CrossFit is quick and rapid: a short workout but loaded with intensity. I’m not all about fast pace all the time, but I understand the benefits and probably should be working out more CrossFit style than I do. But the fact I’m not able to come and do what I want when I please is a bit of a set back for me. I get it though, I would live at this place and workout all the time if I could and I’m sure the people there would not want me there all the time (or other people like me).

Overall, my introduction to CrossFit was awesome. And Gillian could not have been more helpful. The attention she gave to Erin and I was surprising and extremely helpful. If anything, like Erin said, going just for the consultation is totally worth it. Learning new and proper techniques is good information to store and retain. For me it was the rowing I found tough, not the actual workout, but getting the form right. This slowed me down in the circuit we did. Yes, Erin was faster, but I did the pull ups, remember. It’s the little rewards, as Erin said.

Taking an actual CrossFit class will be a whole new challenge, but after meeting with Gillian, I feel ready. We shall determine if that’s true soon enough.




6 thoughts on “Sister Act: CrossFit TO consultation

  1. Jeremy says:

    I started off @ CrossFit TO with a one week pass – 5 straight days was enough to show me that there was something really different from my old gym. It took me another month or two to fully fall in love with it. Because you don’t get to choose your workout, you’re constantly learning new exercises (which isn’t easy – but SO good for getting fit:) Just getting my training started for a November 1/2 marathon and can already feel the big difference the leg strength and core training is making.

    • Erin says:

      Thanks for sharing your story, Jeremy! We definitely want to give CrossFit a go, but as you can see, are a bit skeptical. But as more and more people like you tell us how great it is, the more intrigued we become…

    • Erin says:

      At Crossfit TO, the basic membership was $99 per month, I believe. This meant you got to use the gym 4 times a month. It goes up from there, with more benefits and gym passes the more $$ you pay.

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