My interest in sport and competition has been one of the core motivations and enthusiasms in my life. I’ve always been driven to excel at physical activity regardless of whether the activity was a strength based endeavour or a skill that demanded focus and patience for development. This interest assisted me to compete at multiple sports that included tennis, figure skating, table tennis, cricket and then eventually to my undying passion, golf. I started to play golf at the age of 10 and picked up on the sport at a rapid pace. By the time I was 11 years old I had won my first tournament and had already decided that this was definitely what I would pursue as a career. Not many important life decisions are made at 11 but my decision to pursue golf was until today the best decision that I have ever made.
At 12 I won the Srilankan Junior Golf Championship and was ranked the number 2 junior in the U.A.E by the time I was 13. I would be ranked the Number 1 player in the U.A.E for the next 3 years before I moved to the United States to aggressively pursue my career in golf. I moved to Bradenton, Florida in 2005 to the world renowned IMG Academy, athletes such as Freddie Adu, Maria Sharapova, Peter Uilhein, Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Tommy Haas, Tony Romo and Anna Kournikova have all trained at the academy. They have produced world class professional athletes that have been drafted in to all of the major professional leagues around the world. My experience during the 3 years at the academy was one that is completely irreplaceable, o say the least. I developed the skills and the understanding of what it took to make good athletes become great athletes and experienced the little nuances that separated the best from the rest of the pack.
After high school, I got recruited to play University golf at Midland College and in my second year transferred to Odessa College. While at Midland College, we won a national championship in 2008. During my stint at Odessa College, we were ranked the Number 1 team in the United States for 2 years. I turned pro on the Asian Development Tour on February 2nd 2011 at the Grameenphone Bangladesh open and that launched my long desired dream to play professional golf and what eventually lead me on my journey to CrossFit. I would play on various tours around the world for the next 4 years before I made the radical career change that lead me to moving back to the land of my roots. Turning professional at any sport is a shock to most athletes that make the transition; it’s a totally different ball game. My transition was not too different, I quickly realized how important the role of physical fitness would play in sustaining a long and successful career, and so I decided to take my training up a notch. My coach at the time, made it very clear that I needed to get strong and flexible and get my joints and muscle imbalances assessed and fixed immediately. I joined a strength and conditioning facility in Dubai called Core Direction and was introduced to Olympic weightlifting, a sport where the training protocol develops enormous improvements in strength and speed. During a session with my trainer one day, I witnessed a group of around 8 -10 people rush in to the “box” (what us crossfitters refer to as our workout space) and very assertively started working out. Up until that point I had never seen training with that kind of intensity anywhere, including my 3 years spent at IMG Academies. I loved it.
I eventually included CrossFit in to my program twice a week, the frequency of my CrossFit classes slowly increased over the next year and I eventually made CrossFit my full time training program. The years between 2011 to 2013 were trying years for me. My family ran in to an unexpected debacle and I lost my sister Nadia to Leukemia, my world was broken, I was at rock bottom and directionless. I started to question what I was doing with my life and what benefit golf was making to the people that were around me and my loved ones. My pursuit of professional golf suddenly didn’t motivate me. I didn’t want to go to practice anymore; I didn’t want to spend countless hours in the sun, grinding it out to pursue a dream that had significance only in my life. Following my sister’s death, I looked at my CrossFit box “Altitude” as a place of solace, I would go in there, attack a workout, give everything I had for one hour and the release was indescribable. I was so addicted to the training, the people, the coaches, and the whole environment that CrossFit endorsed, the positive energy was contagious.
I wanted to give this to people, people that were fighting their own secret battles at home or in life; I wanted to be the avenue for their release.I did my CrossFit level 1 at Rig CrossFit on July 12th & 13th and took a flight to Srilanka on the 14th for a weeklong vacation. I have not gone back to Dubai since. I realized that Srilanka had not yet caught the CrossFit bug, I was quite shocked. It seemed that there were quite a few people claiming to be doing CrossFit but actually were not. There were also the select few that were doing Crossfit but at the regular commercial gym. I was baffled and thought that if nobody has done it yet, that I was going to spearhead it, I saw it as something that our country needed and also as a practical business endeavour.
BRIEF HISTORY OF CROSSFIT
Crossfit was started by its CEO and founder Greg Glassman in the early 2000’s. It stemmed from the idea that fitness was very loosely defined and did not have a comprehensive explanation to what exactly it was. He set out to define it; he realized that in order for someone to be fit, they had to be balanced in the 10 general physical skills which are Cardiovascular/ respiratory endurance, strength, speed, power, agility, balance, accuracy, stamina, flexibility and coordination. Every sport requires a variation of a few of these physical traits, and because of specialization in certain traits, athletes would lack in other aspects. He realized that in order for an individual to be truly fit for life they had to be balanced in all 10 domains and so he defined fitness as “work capacity across broad time and modal domain”, which simply means that if two people were given the same task, the person with the ability to finish the task faster, would be deemed the fitter individual. CrossFit as a company was officially established in 2000 and the community was born almost overnight.
This community stems from the friendly competition and camaraderie fostered in a small group dynamic. Today CrossFit spans the world via the internet and has around 3,400 affiliates. This has led to the common goal of improving health, fitness and overall wellness. From the beginning, CrossFit has sought to differentiate its training ideology by creating workouts that elicit feelings associated with competitive endeavours. This, coupled with functional movements designed to enhance quality of life has benefited countless athletes, first responders, and members of the military. In 2007, CrossFit held the first ever CrossFit Games with 70 athletes competing for a grand prize of $500. By 2012, the games had grown to include almost 70,000 athletes and a grand prize of $250,000 which in 2015 was increased to $275,000. The growth in CrossFit has been exponential and has become one of the fastest growing sports in the world and has had Reebok and Nike jump in and reap some rewards from it. The sport is yet to be introduced to Sri lanka on a large scale but the buzz has been created and there are already a few individuals who have geared their training towards making it to the Games. I predict that within the next 3 years we will have an individual or even a team make it to the CrossFit Games.
BENEFITS OF CROSSFIT
The CrossFit protocol provides many benefits in terms of physical, mental and emotional health. The program has been designed in such a way that it elicits rapid adaptations to physical stressors and therefore delivers unbelievable results at a rapid pace.
CrossFit classes are all done in one hour. There are a couple of benefits to classes that last up to one hour. One reason is that it fits in to the schedule of almost anybody in any tax bracket; whether you are a CEO or a University student getting to the gym for one hour would not put a huge dent in to an individual’s daily schedule. Although that is a positive benefit, the main reason classes under one hour are efficient is because your body’s testosterone levels drop significantly after 45 minutes of training with intensity. Testosterone is an androgenic hormone that is responsible for muscle building and elevated cardiovascular capability. Post 45 minutes cortisol levels ( the stress hormone) is produced and the catabolic process starts ( muscle wasting). In a nutshell, working out more than an hour at a moderately intense level will do nothing but take you a few steps back in your training and the results will slow down.
INCREASED JOINT MOBILITY
This is a result of the varied functional movements involved in CrossFit – you’re not just doing simple bicep curls, but moving your limbs in all different directions. Also, by learning the proper ways to lift heavy things off the floor and hold them overhead, your risk of injury in your everyday life significantly decreases.
CrossFit is generally more expensive than the average gym, but not without reason. All CrossFit classes are led by a coach to ensure proper form, provide modifications, encouragement, uphold standards, and occasionally give you a “no rep” when they see you not moving well and not giving full effort. Every CrossFit gym that you walk in to will have a detailed periodized plan that will increase the knowledge base for every single client. Clients will be learning new skills and working strength and mobility.
IMPROVED HEART HEALTH
Your heart rate remains elevated throughout the entire workout, which increases your endurance. Multiple studies show that heart rates were elevated to 90% of max heart rate during CrossFit workouts. Fitness industry guidelines suggest that in order to improve cardiovascular endurance, heart rates must be elevated to between 64%-94%. This also means that your VO2 max will have a significant increase whereby you will have a healthier heart and a healthier life.
DEVELOPMENT OF GOOD MOTOR PATTERNS
Due to major improvements in technology over the last 200 years, the objective of our lives is to make everything as convenient as possible. This is a good thing, but it has affected us in negative ways that are detrimental to our health. From the beginning of time we evolved fastest and survived longest because we were the most efficient movers. We were able to hunt, gather and live nomadically even though we were not the strongest. Thankfully, we now don’t have to fight off lions and rhinos and because of that comfort we have lost our urgency to be efficient movers. Now, people have lost major functionality and are inhibited in their ability to be mobile, which is why if we threw the average person in to a jungle and asked them to survive a month, chances are they’re not going to make it. CrossFit will re-wire your basic motor patterns and bring you back to a physical state where your body will be ready for anything that life throws at you. We teach you how to be functional again, and we do it through functional movements that form the sports of Olympic weightlifting, gymnastics, calisthenics and other various modals. These are just a few of the benefits that are attainable through a comprehensive CrossFit program. It is the fastest growing fitness protocol in the world, and for good reason. It delivers results, and it delivers fast.
WHO CAN DO CROSSFIT?
This is the major question, one that I get asked all the time. Most people assume that they have to get fit before they can even step in to a CrossFit gym. This is entirely not true. Yes, it is true that there are people that are in the gym that are throwing heavy unfathomable weights around, walking on their hands, doing muscle ups and running all as part of one workout, but none of them started there. Nobody comes in ready for this, we progress you slowly through the program, and we take you through foundations and explain how important technique is. You are only as strong as your foundation, so without the basic motor patterns and awareness everything else is of no use. Like the CrossFit journal mentions “The needs of our Olympic athletes differ by degree, not kind”. Regardless of what you have heard about CrossFit, I encourage you to give this program a shot. It might just change your life, just like it did for me and countless other individuals around the world.
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