Neil Ashton is one of CrossFit Leyland’s longest serving members, a man mountain and a true gent. He was kind enough to give us his take on CrossFit and how it helps keep him on track and maintain a healthy body + healthy mind.
“As a man closer to 50 than 40, a nuclear family in tow and a public sector worker, what did CrossFit ever do for me?
Well, in short, it helps keep me sane…….
I’m from a sporting background, having played reasonable rugby for 15-20 years. This always helped me maintain a decent level of strength and fitness, but as I am now finding, I seriously neglected my flexibility regime. Cool down and stretch consisted of a bottle of Port doing the rounds or a crate of Stella in the changing room. Consequently, over 3 years in to CrossFit and I’m still struggling with some of the fundamental movements, frustrating but not prohibitive, due to the infinite scalability of CrossFit there’s always an alternative that will challenge but reward in equal measure.
I developed a competitive mind-set playing Rugby. The difference with CrossFit is that you are competing against yourself most of the time, but still in that team environment which means you will push yourself to, and on occasion, beyond your limits. But don’t be put off if you haven’t been the most active citizen in the past. The same CrossFit class can accommodate all, from elite athlete to absolute beginner. That is one of the biggest attributes of this type of training. Give it a go and you’ll see what I mean.
So it will get you Stronger, Fitter, Leaner and more Flexible [work in progress], but what about your head-space?
My organisation along with many others, both public and private sector, is beginning to wake up to the importance of workforce well-being and managing personal resilience. Many think this means the employer has a responsibility to support and look after their staff, which is true of course but we have a role to play too. There is a massive onus on us to look after ourselves and get a grip of our health and well-being as well as ensuring we have a plan to maintain our resilience.
I’m a great believer in healthy body – healthy mind and all that. CrossFit can really help with that; if you’re fit and healthy you don’t have to worry about that and can focus on the job in hand with all your energy and brain power. But you still need to watch things and make sure you don’t over-do things, again I use CrossFit as part of my 3 step resilience plan;
Outlet, Network, Focus……..
Well, it’s certainly an outlet; great for releasing that pent-up aggression and frustration and the good thing is its time efficient; if you can spare a couple of hours, maybe three times a week, job done!
CrossFit is also famed for its sense of community and mutual support. To be honest I don’t throw myself into this as fully as I might, my family are the priority at the moment, but when you’re there, the staff/coaches and other members are top draw, knowledgeable and supportive to a fault. So if you need a supportive network it’s there for the taking.
You can focus on loads of things in the future, personal or professional. But you can also focus on improving loads of different stuff with CrossFit, whether that be nailing the iconic ring muscle-up, or the equally important but less flashy air-squat technique.
Walking through the door for the first time can be daunting, especially when the young lads take their shirts off [no need!] But persist, try out a few sessions, you never know you might just enjoy it… you’ll certainly feel the benefit.
I’ll be the sweaty bloke swearing to himself at the back, come say hello.”
Neil Ashton, CrossFit Leyland Member