A growing fitness sensation, CrossFit—the system that takes functional training to the extreme—isn't for the weak. Follow along as an M&F staffer plunges into the fray.


By Eric Velazquez | Images by Michael Darter | Video by Ryan Elmore

For the rest of our in-depth feature on CrossFit, including a complete one-week workout and supplement suggestions, pick up the May issue of M&F, on newsstands April 7!

Damn that whiteboard.

As I stagger ignominiously from station to station at Petranek Fitness in Santa Monica, California—my lungs screaming for recuperative oxygen, my palms blistering before my eyes—it's the whiteboard that pushes me harder, farther, heavier. Whatever pride I walked in with has long since been crushed by a pathetic, labored set of 50 pull-ups. Sweat is literally pouring from my brow, the sting rendering my eyes tear-gas red.

One foot in front of the other—it's work as I plod toward a 95-pound barbell. As I make an effort to find a steady pace on my thrusters (front squats with an overhead press at the top), I get light-headed and drop the bar.

Legs heavy, vision blurred, I drag myself out for an 800-meter run. On the way out, the whiteboard gently reminds me that I'm still only halfway through the workout. Exhausted, aloof, barely vertical—I won't remember a single one of these 800 meters 10 minutes from now. On my way back in, the board beckons once more, this time pointing out that the workout will conclude in the same sadistic fashion in which it started—with 50 pull-ups.

Eventually, mercifully, I complete my last pull-up and collapse to the floor, a soaked, quivering, bloody mess. Folds of skin are ripped from my hands, my lungs are struggling to find their cadence. But this is what I signed up for. This isn't about working up a light sweat, or getting a few "pump sets" in. This is about fitness for performance. This is about getting better today, and the omnipresent whiteboard, which catalogs my workouts for better or for worse, is my new accountability czar. This is CrossFit.

For the author's complete workout journal, click here.

Click here for a Crossfit-inspired workout.

To discuss this article or your own CrossFit experiences, click here.

Click on the video player below for exclusive behind-the-scenes footage of our CrossFit photo shoot at Petranek Fitness in Santa Monica.