Is Crossfit the ultimate workout? Five of Hong Kong's crossfitters say why they love it

Critics label it elitist, extreme and even dangerous, but Crossfit is exploding in popularity. We ask five converts what all the fuss is about

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 August, 2014, 1:12am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 August, 2017, 2:04pm

Ed Haynes
Founder Coastal Fitness Performance Training HK, ex international rugby player

One of the biggest drivers of Crossfit's popularity has to be its community aspect. You could walk into a Crossfit box for the first time on the other side of the world, and immediately have a lot in common with other members.

I haven't seen any other platform which has delivered results for body composition, health and well-being as effectively as Crossfit.

In all honesty, I can't argue with the negative press Crossfit receives, and I have a neutral opinion about it.

Crossfit is simply defined as "high intensity, constantly varied functional movements performed across different time domains". So all of a sudden, you have thousands of individuals who have passed their Level 1 exam (two days study followed by a multiple choice exam), who open up a box and start delivering what they believe to be Crossfit. It's no wonder it gets a bad rep. I've been to many Crossfit boxes around the world which I believe are not doing a very good job. I have also been to a number of boxes who are doing a great job.

If you are thinking about starting, make sure you do your research on the coaches and the programming first.


Kristen Johnson
Coach at Crossfit0260, weightlifter

I started weightlifting when I was 12 or 13 years old and I was immediately fascinated by it. Before I got into Crossfit in 2010 I didn't realise that it would be so intense. I remember my first workout - I couldn't even do a push-up.

Fitness in general has become more mainstream. We're starting to see a lot of local Chinese coming to the gym. The oldest that I've trained is 70, and the youngest is 18. Crossfit is infinitely scaleable: everyone shares a common goal, but to a different degree.

You find your own niche: mine is weightlifting. I love the science behind it, the physics behind the movement, the angles. Yesterday I hit a new split jerk record of 104kg. But I'm most proud of my deadlift of 183kg.

Women don't produce enough testosterone to get bulky. I've had to eat an excessive amount of protein to reach the mass I am at. About 60 per cent of crossfitters worldwide are women. I love Crossfit for what it does for women; it's absolutely empowering. I think the barbell does that for you.

I can't even begin to explain how much confidence it has given me. And I know that whatever happens I can take care of myself. If I'm moving boxes from my house, I'm not calling a boy; I'm doing it myself.


Alix James
Asphodel co-founder, former pro muay Thai fighter and soccer coach

I came here from Britain in 2008. My school friend, Ashley Booth, and I opened Asphodel in 2010; we were the only Crossfit gym in Hong Kong for two and a half years. Since May last year, another seven or so have opened.

Anything that gains popularity fast is going to get on people's backs, and is going to come with risk. Part of our job is managing that. Crossfitters as a whole get a little carried away by racing and that's where it gets it's reputation for carelessness. We don't put that much emphasis on going against the clock here. We think of training as a marathon rather than a sprint.

A lot of the people who come in are really shy or overweight, with low self-esteem. Six months down the line they're much happier about who they are. And that's important to me.

Boxing and fighting give me a competitive edge. I started fighting when I was 17, but now I enjoy the strength side of training more. Crossfit is about having the best of as many things as possible - strength, endurance and speed.

You can never be too strong and you can never be too fit. Crossfit gives you a reality check: there's always somebody who is stronger than you. This gives you a reason to push a bit more, all the time. To challenge yourself continuously.


Edmund Tan
Head coach Crossfit 852, former competitive rock climber

In Malaysia, where I'm from, I own PushMore Fitness Centre, the very first Crossfit box in Southeast Asia. Over the years I have seen tremendous changes in the fitness industry; gyms are starting to cooperate with functional training and many have approached us to coach their trainers to be more Crossfit oriented.

But there's still room for us to grow. Less than half the people we see at Crossfit events have a full understanding of it. Before being a full-time Crossfit athlete I competed as a rock climber. I fell in a competition and broke my shoulder. That put me off the wall for a long time. My weight dropped to 49kg; I was unable even to do a basic move on the wall. Then a friend introduced me to Crossfit, hoping I'd be able to regain my strength. I've been hooked ever since.

Crossfit has changed me. Not just physically - I was amazed to find how tough I am mentally and emotionally. In Crossfit, we see people doing seemingly impossible things, and in order to achieve those things, we tend to brush off the fear and make things happen.


Joey "Bam Bam" Lee
Pieterse Owner 9 Dragons Fitness and Crossfit 0260, former pro kickboxer

I got involved with Muay Thai after college. This evolved into my love for Crossfit and Olympic lifting. Crossfit helped me bounce back from my two pregnancies, brought new challenges and gave me a new passion for training.

It's made me realise that I can still achieve things I never thought I could. I'm stronger and fitter than I have ever been. It has made me feel comfortable moving away from the norm of what women's bodies are supposed to look like. Strong is the new skinny.

My kids, who are almost three and four years old, know that we exercise a lot and the gym is a part of their everyday lives. Its awesome watching them pick up a PVC pipe and mimic us.