American comedian Mike Mulloy totally nailed what CrossFit is. He said, “I found out that CrossFit is like reverse Fight Club, because the first rule of CrossFit is to never shut up about CrossFit.”

He’s got a point. Anyone who’s just been to a class (or WOD, an acronym for ‘workout of the day’) will immediately bash out a status update on Facebook or Twitter, or latch on to their nearest mate to tell them about the intense workout, which usually goes something like “Great class today!”, or  “Man I worked so hard I just puked!”.

They won’t be joking, either. It’s a rite of passage to throw up after an intense CrossFit WOD, which can be sadistic-sounding, double-digit combinations of push-ups, pull-ups, squats, deadlifts, sprints and more. They’re cunningly given a female name like ‘Fran’, ‘Chelsea’ or ‘Helen’, but nothing harsh like ‘Gertrude’, ‘Bertha’ or ‘Gladys’. We’re talking cardio and weights in rapid succession of each other, wrapped up in a five- to 30-minute session of rotating reps and sets that would leave The Commando on his knees. It is intense, and it gets results as it strips fat and builds muscle, but of course you have a lot more room for muscle when you’ve just lost your lunch all over the pavement.

CrossFit junkies will also try and convince other poor souls into joining them in their self-inflicted torture sessions; not because misery loves company, but because the junkie needs someone to hold their smartphone to take photos of them as they hoist a comically loaded barbell above their heads. This is the standard move that shows off rippling triceps and laterals, and gives their eyes that ‘extra wild’ appearance while they grimace through the enjoyable pain. You don’t have to look too far to find someone doing this: there are more than 6000 CrossFit affiliated gyms worldwide (and that number’s expected to grow to 10,000 this year), with just over 400 of them in Australia, mostly strewn down the east coast.

It’s not an exercise that comes on its own, so expect an addict to change their diet too. They might mention the word ‘paleo’ in the same breath as CrossFit. This is the ‘eat like a caveman’ lifestyle, with admirable goals of eliminating sugar and processed foods, but it also cuts out dairy, grains and potatoes. Check a junkie’s cupboards: it’s only a matter of time before they bin their Vegemite and whey protein.

But, the ultimate reason you’ll know your mate’s hooked on CrossFit is that they’ll be totally and utterly ripped. Like, unbelievably so, as the sport – and it is a sport, with top place on the podium at the CrossFit games in the US netting a sweet $275,000 – is irrefutably effective at burning fat and building muscle. But maybe that’s the makeup of the CrossFit junkie: 4% fat, 0% puke.

Paul Taylor