When I think of CrossFit, I think of ripped bodies that wouldn’t be out of place on Ninja Warrior. Meanwhile, my body is built for Wipeout, so when I found myself at Windsor’s home of holistic fitness, I felt fear deep in my feeble core.
SiSU – which translates to the wholesome Finnish art of inner strength – offers a unique combination of physical training alongside rehab and wellness programs. But it was the group classes I had my eye on with their seven-day free trial up my sleeve, that grants you access to their jam-packed schedule of high intensity Move 45, foundational Essentials, restorative yoga, and the big, bad CrossFit.
With absolutely zero experience behind the barbell, and last-minute purchases from the Lorna Jane outlet on my back, I sent one message to everyone I know: pray for me.
Strolling into the warehouse-style space, I was immediately bombarded by a four-legged surprise – SiSU is dog-friendly! While my arms warmed up patting the bubbly Hank, I was welcomed to SiSU by Alex. Co-founder and resident physiotherapist, she’s on standby for all newcomers, and was there to help ease me into my first ever CrossFit class, led by the head coach, Damon.
Good thing too, as the technical mumbo jumbo went in one ear and out the other. CrossFit consists of functional exercises at a high intensity level. In other words, it’s your day-to-day movements on steroids. Safety is number one at SiSU, so Alex set me up with weights that challenged me (easily done, as I’d never properly used weights before), but were still well within my realm of ability. They really do practice what they preach – one of my six classmates was Agatha who is the other co-founder and health and wellness coach!
What followed was 60 minutes of gruelling circuit training that had me squatting, lifting, and hopping on the horrifically named assault bike. No exerciser was left behind – Damon’s eagle eye was quick to pick up when anyone needed the exercises modified, tailoring the program to each individual even though it was a group class. Usually, I leave the gym when I feel a drop of sweat so I can chuck on some dry shampoo and be on my merry way, but CrossFit had me working muscles that I didn’t even know existed.
However, that wasn’t what sent my endorphins through the roof – it was the devoted energy of a welcoming community who truly wanted to help me achieve my best. Not only were the coaches genuinely proud of me when I thrust each weight into the air, but my classmates were incredibly supportive. By the time we finished, I was dying, but each high five, fist bump, and ‘good job!’ steadily revived me. I couldn’t remember the names of my classmates, but I would take a bullet for them.
I was pain, pain was me. I made the mistake of sneezing the morning after and I thought I ruptured my appendix. There was no humanely possible way I could work out again, right?
Wrong, because the workout schedule is planned to cater for the few muscles that were still functioning. Alex was taking the CrossFit class today, and while I was worried to be going in solo, she stayed on top of my physical ability during the class, offering alternative exercises before I could even say ‘help’. She had me powerlifting like an Olympian (if the Olympic standard was 8kgs). And, when we finished all our movements with five minutes to spare, we were rewarded with an ab workout! Usually I’d be out of there, but Alex truly made me feel like I’d won a gold medal after the final plank.
It was time to give my short-lived life as a CrossFitter a break, because today I was heading to Move 45. A full body workout that always has you on your toes (literally) in a mix of cardio, body weight workouts, and resistance training, this was much more up my alley.
As I was planning my workouts around my work schedule (which was easy to do because SISU offers an extensive schedule at all sorts of hours), I attended a later class than usual and was the only one who signed up. My aching muscles were the teeniest bit relieved: oh no, what a shame, guess they have to cancel. However, jokes on me – SiSU never gets between you and your fittest self, so if you’re the only student in the class, that’s just a free personal training session for you!
My PT sesh would have to wait, as a last-minute sign-up joined me in the circuit-based workout. We worked on the minute, every minute, dashing between squats, butterfly sit-ups, rowing machines, and (my personal favourite because it was the closest I ever felt to Simone Biles) ring pull-ups. It was the most huffy puffy kind of exercise of the week that worked up a rewarding sweat!
While yesterday’s Move 45 felt great five minutes after the class was done, the next day had me groaning my way out of bed and avoiding toilet breaks at any cost. Luckily, I was spending my morning at Essentials with Agatha, which is a combination of core and balance movements, inspired by Pilates and yoga.
I made the mistake of thinking low intensity = easy peasy. This one however was the definition of a slow burn, with my glutes working on overtime. But funnily enough, the deliberate movements also helped to stretch out my tired limbs – I left the class with a pep in my step and four days of pain practically erased!
To finish off my week of blood (pumping), sweat (aplenty), and tears (which was just my sweat rolling from my forehead), it was only right to wrap it up with one last CrossFit sesh. After blabbing on about how I’m an actual athlete now, my partner decided to see what the fuss is about and signed up for his very own free trial, joining me for the final class.
He's a person who actually partakes in physical activity, and knows his kettlebells from his dumbbells, so I was worried all my bravado would fall away when he breezes through his first class. But even though I’d been experiencing it all week, I forgot the true magic of SiSU: no matter your ability and no matter your goals, the team will find a way to challenge you, motivate you, and improve you.
We both were absolutely knackered at the end of the class (although let the record show, I pulled out one more rep than him), which made me feel so validated. Everyone at SiSU is working at their personal best, so you leave every session more fulfilled than the last.
Under the expert eye of the spirited coaches, I knocked out more fitness goals in five days than I ever had in years of wandering through the gym. And even though I felt just as beat at the end of Day 1 as I did on Day 5, I’ve never felt more damn proud of myself, with everyone at SiSU equally as proud of me, too!
To experience the truly life changing SiSU difference, sign up for your own free trial here.