Megan Henchin

My Crossfit journey – Megan Henchin

I’ve been doing Crossfit for two years, and it has made me a happier and healthier person.

I played rugby through college for both CIT and Ballincollig RFC, I was training or had matches up to 5-6 days a week so I was kept active until I finished college. Then I started a desk job and I was trying to keep up training with rugby, but I didn’t have time to stay committed. That’s when my weight slowly began to creep on. I went to America for a while and didn’t do any form of exercise there. When I came back to Ireland, I realised the extent of my weight gain and it really made me really self conscious about my body image. I know I needed to do something.

I heard only positive things about Crossfit from friends that go there, and I did look it up a few times but always thought that it looked way too intense for me and I thought I was too unfit to even start looking at it. I just thought that I would go back to rugby and I’d get back on track. It was at the point where I couldn’t even do a lap of the pitch before having to walk the end of it, completely out of breath.

That’s when my excuses started – As a front row I tried to rationalise it by thinking, the heavier I am, the harder I will be to move. I don’t need to be able to run, I’m a forward, not a back. I used to tell myself every excuse imaginable. I realised after a few weeks that it wasn’t working and I was haphazardly training and I had no real motivation. That’s when I decided that I would finally try Crossfit.

I signed up and I went to the foundations course and everything was explained clearly. John and Brian were very helpful in explaining each movement, and offering alternatives for the ones I couldn’t do. I was out of my comfort zone. All I could think was “I’m in the wrong place, I’m not able for any of this..” But I was in the right place and getting the right coaching because it wasn’t long before I felt confident and proficient at the movements that were coming up in both the strength element and in the workouts.

I remember my first night after foundations and I was watching a team prepare for a competition. They were swinging off the bar and pushing huge weight up overhead and I thought I would never be able to do anything like that. Little did I know that I would partake in the same competition for the next two years. One of the many things I love about Crossfit is that everything is scalable. I remember when I started, I struggled get the technique right with an empty bar, now I’m confident under the bar with substantial weight.

I started going twice a week, but then that quickly changed to 4-5 times a week. I loved it straight away. I started losing weight and noticing a difference in my body and I kept wanting more. I was feeling much better about myself and I was sleeping better at night. I noticed my fitness levels increasing as the weeks went on. The results were addicting and it was clear to me that Crossfit did work. ​

You’re never judged on what you can’t do, but encouraged to push to see what you can do. I am stronger and fitter than I ever have been. There are so many things that I have achieved that I never thought I would be able accomplish before joining Crossfit Ballincollig. Between competitions, adventure races and even a 5km, I am surprising myself all the time – Especially willingly getting up at 6.30am Christmas Eve morning for a workout.

I went back to rugby after taking a year out and already I notice a huge difference. I’m now able to run around the pitch without getting out of breath straight away. It made me a better support player, I can be where I’m needed. It’s not only the running that I notice the improvement. I learnt how to maximise my strength to lift in the line out, to clear out rucks and to push in a scrum.

Crossfit showed me what strength was and how to utilise it and it has drastically improved my confidence.

Through Crossfit, I also had my eyes open to the value of nutrition. I never really paid much attention to that element of my training before. I thought it didn’t matter what I ate because I was training 3-4 nights a week – Again, more excuses.

I have lost over 3 stone since I joined Crossfit but my priority shifted from just weight loss to ‘What can I eat to become better at Crossfit? How will what I eat help me become stronger and faster.’ The regular nutrition/lifestyle challenges are brilliant and are a great way to keep on track.

Sometimes, I look at the workout and I think how awful it looks but I always feel so fulfilled after them. I never let that deter me from going to the class. Even if I have the slowest time on the board, or the least amount of reps, I feel that it doesn’t matter – I finished it to the best of my ability and just try beat it if that workout happens to come up again. There are still so many things I have to achieve but that just makes me work harder.

There are many things I love about Crossfit – The feeling of PR’ing a lift or finishing a particularly gruelling workout, but the best thing about Crossfit Ballincollig is the people that go there. The community in CFB is second to none. There’s a real sense of positivity and enthusiasm, everybody is so supportive and motivating and I have made some great friends in there.

John is a great coach who will understand what every member of the box is capable of and help them progress further and I am really grateful for all his help over the last two years.

I really can’t recommend Crossfit Ballincollig enough. It definitely changed my life the moment I walked in the doors two years ago. I still feel excited to see what every class will bring every time when I walk in the door.

If you are unsure about trying it, I would recommend just going for it, I only wish I started sooner.


Steve Bevan

My CrossFit Journey so far……Super Steve Bevan 11/12/2013

Having had a background in sport – mostly rugby ever since the age of 15 or so, I always considered myself to be reasonably fit. I moved to Ireland a little over 9 years ago at the age of 37, having stopped playing regular rugby the year before. When I came over to Ireland most time was spent settling my new family into our house and settling myself into my new job, so I became very sedentary very quickly and started to pile the weight on. At my heaviest at the start of 2013 I was just over 19 and a half stone or just about 275lbs and I was as miserable as could be.

I had played around with running over the previous few years in an attempt to stay fit and had even ran the half marathon in Cork in 2011, but I was running overweight and the strain was telling on my knees, and I had also tried to go to regular sessions at the small gym in work – however I found the motivation to keep going to the gym almost nonexistent and was doing the same boring thing time after time with no result

So in April of 2013 I noticed a message on the internal notice board in EMC mentioning a new CrossFit box that had opened in Ballincollig and having seen some friends back in the UK achieve amazing results through CrossFit – I thought I would give it a go. I had done a couple of sessions in the UK before and knew it was technically challenging, but I wanted to give anything a try at that stage.

I emailed the address on the notice and explained my background, injuries and my age and asked if they thought I should give it a try. John emailed me back and explained his own history with CrossFit, and assured me that it was worth doing and that everything could be scaled to suit. He sent me some links to the website for the box including his own profile and also sent me some information on a weight management or diet process if you like called the Paleo Diet. John didn’t say I should do it, or had to do it, but suggested that I might get some benefit out of it before attending the induction sessions.

So eventually I went along to the next induction session 4 weeks later, I had been following the Paleo Diet for the previous 3 weeks and although it had been hard going, I felt somehow more energised and ready for the challenge. The induction classes were tough, but there was a real team spirit with the group that I really liked and John and Brian were encouraging without being too overpowering, I was beginning to like this feeling.

After getting through the induction a Paleo Challenge period started almost immediately, a month, starting off with a gruesome WOD (Workout of the Day). The idea…to see how much time could be shaved off the same WOD 5 weeks later after strict Paleo. All of the time we were working on technique….different lifts…different exercises, no WODS being the same. I started off on 3 classes a week and by the end of that month had become totally obsessed and had signed up for unlimited classes and was attending 4 and sometimes (most times) 5 classes a week and the weight had started to drop off. Yes it was hard, there were some things technically I just couldn’t do, Kipping pull ups, toes to bar, double unders etc etc etc, and yes it was frustrating seeing other people in the box getting them quicker than I was. But both John and Brian kept encouraging, kept showing and repeating the techniques and kept persisting saying it will pay off. You know what…after 6 months all of a sudden they just did, I got my first toes to bar, quickly followed by the kipping pull up. My lifting was getting better, I was getting stronger and my body shape was changing dramatically.

So fast forward to today and writing this, I am 9 months after first contacting John and Brian and 8 months after attending the box for the first time. I still have dodgy knees but I try not to let them stop me too much. We have just completed a second Paleo Challenge and strength cycle and my weight is now down to 207lbs, 68lbs lost in 9 months (for those old school thats just short of 5 stone). I have more energy than I have had in the past 10 years, I am slimmer than I have been in the past 20 years (even less weight now than when I was regularly playing rugby), I am stronger and healthier and determined to have a 6 pack by the end of June 2014….(watch this space).

I have a motivational mantra that people are probably sick of hearing now ‘You can have results or excuses….not both!’ Dont get me wrong, I still moan with the best of them, I still try to make excuses for failures but there really are none. You have to want to change, to want to get healthy and to want to get fit…once you want to do it, once you decide to walk in through the door of Crossfit Ballincollig and then keep making the decision to come back through the door every day and give everything you have, then John and Brian will bring out the best in you, give you all of the tools and encouragement you need, I can guarantee you…. results will follow, I have seen it for myself and I have been given back my pride, energy and determination.

Crossfit works….it really does.

Irene Hourihan

My Crossfit Journey so far…….Irene Hourihan  5/9/2014

So let me take you back to July 2013. I hadn’t done any form of regular physical exercise of any significance for about 6 years, I am 5ft 6″ and was weighing in at 13stone 7lbs and it had come to the point where I was extremely unhappy with how I looked and physically felt. In the 2/3 months before I joined Crossfit Ballincollig I had tried going for walks / jogs in the evenings but I quickly lost interest and always found an excuse not to go.

I heard about Crossfit Ballincollig from a friend who was big into it so I decided to bite the bullet and sign up for the four week foundations course. I’ll never forget the day after my first class! My body ached and muscles I didn’t even know I had were sore, but I was determined to finished at least the foundations course. The one thing I loved from the outset was the friendliness of not just John and Brian but from the other “crossfitters”. At every class I felt encouraged and challenged and by the end of the month I found myself looking forward to going to class. I loved the fact that everyday every workout was different and even though at the beginning there were several movements I wasn’t able to do the fact that everything could be scaled to my level was fantastic.

So from August – December 2013 I attended 1-2 classes a week, I was by no means a saint, there were some weeks I went once and some weeks I didn’t go at all! But by October I found myself annoyed if I hadn’t gotten my two classes in. I started to see changes within a few weeks, I was getting stronger and I was getting confidence with the bar. I hadn’t lost any weight at this point because I still wasn’t eating healthy so my news years resolution was simple: 1) go to Crossfit 3 times a week, no excuses 2) keep a Crossfit log book to asses my progression and 3) eat healthy and 4) loose 2 stone by the summer.

I’m happy to say I’ve kept all resolutions to date! And although my initial reason for joining Crossfit was to loose weight, that quickly just became a happy side effect, by February I wanted to be fitter, faster and stronger and slowly I was getting there. I’m now lifting weights in front squat, back squat, power clean, dead lift and over head squat that I would have laughed about a year ago (I have to say weight lifting shoes are a must have!!). I’m slowly getting better at gymnastic movements but I know I’ll get them eventually thanks to John and Brian’s guidance regarding scaling.

So as of today (September 2nd 2014) I weigh 9st 9lbs, that’s a weight loss of 3st 12lbs since Christmas. Now I just have to get hand stand push ups and I’ll be happy!

If you’re thinking of trying Crossfit, go for it, you have nothing to loose, I literally can’t recommend it highly enough!


Noel O Connell

My CrossFit Journey so far……Noel O Connell 9/9/2014

For anyone who thinks that they are too old or too fat or just not fit enough to start exercising then think again. At 51 years of age and at 16-2 stone in weight and with no exercise for over 30 years, I knew that I had to do something before it was too late. I found it hard to get motivated to even go for a short walk. My job mainly consists of sitting at my desk all day or driving to meetings. I took a look at my exercise options as well as my food intake. I love coke and chocolate and could have 5 or 6 cans a day, that’s over 1.5 litres plus several bars of chocolate. Couple that with no exercise at all, it was now or never. My legs and arms were fine but I had a fat belly,, neck and face and chest with moobs. So what do I do? Swimming was one option but it didn’t appeal to me. Join a gym? This option looked better and some had a swimming pool so I checked a few out. The problem with joining a gym is that you are more or less left to your own devices. For me I saw myself doing a little training and then relaxing in the pool or hot tub and packing it in after a few weeks.

A work colleague joined CrossFit over a year ago and he gave me some information about it. It looked like it was a bit too advanced for my liking but I said I would give it a go. Now 6 months into it I know that it was the best decision for me. To start with you do a 2 week X 3 class a week foundation course. This gets you started and used to some of the warm up exercises and training names etc. After your foundation course you can join the regular classes which are a mix of newbies like me and people who are well fit and training for years but that doesn’t matter as the work outs are scaled to suit each person. Most of the class are half my age or less and much fitter than me but I didn’t care.

The classes are broken down into three main sections, Warmup/stretching, strength and then a workout called WOD which stands for Workout of the Day. The warm up can be a 400m run or skipping which for a person who doesn’t run left me gasping for breath the first few weeks. I was nearly last back most days. The stretching was great and got you ready for the strength section of class and the WOD even though some of the stretches were tough.

Next onto the strength part of class which were weightlifting movements . These varied a lot and started off with lifting a wooden broom handle and progressed onto lifting a metal bar (20kg for men or 15kg for women). You then add weights to them a little at a time over the weeks. Lifting the bar from the ground to your waist and up to your shoulders to over your head sounds easy enough but you need to do it properly which you are shown using the broom handle and a bar with no weights on it. Other weightlifting consisted of bench press, squats with the bar on your shoulder, chest or behind your head adding a little more weight as you go.

The WODs are also varied and while they are posted on the CrossFit Ballincollig website, sometimes its best not to look in advance and just arrive for your class and see what’s on the board. Again these are scaled to suit your fitness level. I was amazed at some of the other members and the weights they could lift. The WOD can be a combination of 2 or more exercises. BOX JUMPS, SIT UPS, PUSH UPS, CHIN UPS, KNEE RAISES, SKIPPING, RUNNING, WALL-BALLS, RING ROWS, THRUSTERS, POWER CLEANS, BACK SQUATS, FRONT SQUATS, PUSH PRESS, BURPEES (I hate burpees) AND MORE. There’s lots of squatting and you keep going till you walk funny . My upper body strength is weak so I had to use green bands to help me with pull ups at the start. The WOD’s are constantly varied which is great. They’re never the same each day. There’s a count down or count up clock which can be either your friend or enemy. You check your time after your WOD and mark it on the whiteboard. At CrossFit they don’t cheer on the person that finishes first, It’s the person who is last gets the most encouragement from the rest of the class. Does it hurt after each WOD, YES you bet it does but I found that my recovery time got much quicker than what it was in the first few weeks.

I started at the start of March 2014 at 16:2 stone and my target was to loose 17 pounds by mid October bringing me to 14:13 as I just wanted to see the number 14 on the scales for the first time in a long while. After 6 months I am now 14:5 which is 25 pounds of a drop and well over my target. I didn’t think I would loose a pound each week. I am getting more flexible and fitter. I feel more motivated. I have also moved in several notches in my belt and a few shirts I had put aside because they were too small for me are fitting me again. I wear suits for work all week and all of them have to be tailored now as there too big for me.

My new goal now is to loose another 3 pounds by my original date of mid October bringing me to 14 stone 2 pounds meaning a 2 stone drop in 71/2 months. I am so close now.

I may not be the strongest, I may not be the fastest but I am trying my hardest and its paying off. I am not there yet but I am closer than what I was yesterday.

Pain never tasted so good, 3 HOURS A WEEK, THAT’S ALL.You don’t have to be better than everyone else, you just have to be better than you ever thought you could be.

A big thanks to CrossFit and to John and Brian from CrossFit Ballincollig.

Noel O’Connell

Latest Workouts

Strength: 5 x 3 Hang Power Clean Met Con: 3 Rounds of 400m Run 30 Wallballs 20lbs/14lbs 15 Burpee Box Jump Overs 24″/20″
Skill: Pull-up Final Week(6) (A)  5 x 3 Partner Assisted Pull-ups Or 4 x 12 Ring Rows, Max Effort Dead Hang (B) 5 x 3 Weighted Strict Pull-ups Max Effort Dead Hang Strength: 5 x 5 Back Squat Met Con: 8min AMRAP 5 Push Press 60kg/40kg 5 Bar Hopping Burpees  
Strength: Every 90 sec for 8 Rounds 1 Snatch High Pull 1 Hang Snatch 1 Snatch Met Con: EMOTM for 16min Odd min… 20-35 Double-Unders(aim for unbroken sets) Even min….Add one pull-up to last week Challenge Day 4: Complete 8,000 steps (Outside of training) Download an app that will track your steps. Samsung phones have Samsung