THERE must be something strange in the water at Crossfit Taunton – and I’ll tell you why.
After a gruelling session including more deadlifts than I could shake a dumbbell at, enough box jumps to make a kangaroo dizzy and a lung busting medicine ball drill – I all but crawled out of the white, sliding doors of the Apple Business Park site, off Bindon Road.
But instead of a feeling of complete resentment towards the punishment I had just experienced, I was hooked – even as my calf cramped while hitting the clutch as I drove home.
And I’m not alone in feeling like this (hooked and cramp) – just ask the centre’s members.
“I like the intensity of it, sometimes you get a day when you might be tired and think you’ll just do a half-hearted session. But you get down here and work hard because everyone else is and you give 110%,” said Roy Sowerby, 39. “It’s addictive, it really is, it’s difficult to explain, but I absolutely love it.”
Emma, 26, feels the same: “I like crossfit because it’s so competitive. We’re always trying to get personal bests and it helps to motivate you.”
It’s the nature of the workouts and the atmosphere being constructed by owner Pete Howe, who knows a thing or two about getting into shape.
Pete, 34, was the cover model of December’s issue of Men’s Health magazine after winning a public vote – and the former Marine puts his chiselled success down to the crossfit programmes he teaches at the centre.
“I got into it when I was in the Marines, I was working in America and those guys basically beasted me with it and I kind of picked it up from that. This is my training – it’s all I do. The Men’s Health cover stuff has obviously helped with the business and people know if they’re coming down here they are going to work hard and have a good session.”
After a quick fire warm-up and stretch for starters, we jumped straight into the main course – a heavyweight serving of deadlifts, with a focus on lifting technique.
Pete said: “We get the best out of people so things have to be done properly. It’s not a place for gym queens who are only interested in looking good – you’ve got to work hard.
“We work with a whole range of people here, from running clubs to boxers. We don’t specialise in anything, it’s complete fitness so it enables your fitness to develop in all aspects. Your aerobic and anaerobic threshold is going to increase, so as well as muscularly getting stronger and healthier, you’ll benefit from all aspects of fitness.
“We mix it up so much so we can get the best of all worlds. I think that’s the great selling point to it – and we change it every day so it stops people getting bored.”
From here we moved on to a delicious super-set of MORE deadlifts and vertical box jumps – and don’t you even think about skipping reps, Pete is on hand to watch your every move, or at least it felt that way.
There’s a real sick pleasure in this type of beasting – with my back feeling like it had gained 50 years and my legs at tipping point I felt compelled to keep up with the rest of the group – and that’s just the environment Pete and his gang of Crossfit instructors are trying to breed.
“It’s a competitive environment and everyone drives each other on. Everyone is always looking to better themselves here.
“It’s not just addictive – the endorphins you get let you know you really have achieved something.”
We then moved on to pressing a 9kg medicine ball as high up the wall as possible (see left). It was as enjoyable as it sounds.
The session eventually came to a close and after a brief period of recovery, the rest of the group charged upstairs to talk about personal bests and breaking records – hard work breeds success and results are almost guaranteed in crossfit.
The centre has only been open for seven months, but Pete’s sessions are attracting more and more people each week.
The days following my crossfit experience were laden with aches and pains but also a curious urge to go back for more.
PHOTOS: Steve Richardson