Suzanne Jones, 56

At the age of 52 and being a PE teacher for 32 years, there were few sports that I had not played, coached or supported, so when my friends asked me to try CrossFit there was no hesitation. From my first foundation class I loved it.
I hadn’t had much experience of lifting weights, only a few dumbbells in the gym, so to be coached correctly was an inspiration. At first I struggled with just the barbell, but over the last 4 years, I have improved quite a lot, always pushing myself and being encouraged to get better.

Although weightlifting is part of CrossFit, there may be some days when there are no weights in sight. We do lots of other workouts, some short, some long and every one of them can be scaled to suit your own ability. Over the years there have been workouts with running, rowing, gymnastic movements, body weight exercises and much more.

Coming from a team sport background I love the community, social life and “banter” that has developed in the box. We work with partners, teams and as individuals to be the best that we can be. The diversity present makes this place special, with teachers, engineers, mental health nurses and something I love to see, youngsters joining classes with older people. I’m 56 and I trained yesterday with two 17 year olds. The support from others is incredible, the coach, Steve is always encouraging and knowledgeable and it is fantastic to see people with no sporting/exercise backgrounds enjoying competitions like “The Open” and achieving personal bests in things they’d never have thought possible.

Over the years I have lost body fat and toned considerably despite the cakes and treats we share on a Friday night, with one member losing 7 stone in weight!

I recommend CrossFit to anyone, whatever gender, background or ability and hope to be still CrossFitting at 70!!

Lisa Watkins, 40

I started CrossFit Initiate around 4 years ago when it first opened, it was probably one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. At the time, I was little unfit to say the least.

In my first Foundation Class we jogged 400m as a warm up, and when we got back I had to go and sit outside – I was a complete mess! I couldn’t catch my breath and was as red as beetroot; I was thinking, ‘What have I done? This is a mistake.’

Steve, one of the coaches, checked if I was OK and asked about my exercise background. He assured me I could do CrossFit and they could change anything to suit each persons level of fitness and strength. He tailored the workout to suit me and I did get through it. I thought ‘I can do this’, and little by little I’ve been getting fitter and stronger ever since.

I still can’t run for toffee and complain every time I see it on the board but last year, along with some great friends I’ve made in the box, I completed a 10K!

Invincible Obstacle course – I didn’t run the whole way but this is something I would never have dreamed of doing a few years back and I most definitely would not have finished.

Last month I did my first pull up, which again I never thought I’d be able to do, but with patience and listening to the advice of the coaches, I did it and am pretty proud of myself too.

I’m approaching 40 but I’m probably the fittest I’ve ever been and having fun doing it. My husband has joined and our youngest daughter takes part in the teens classes.

As I’ve said, it’s probably one of the best decisions I’ve ever made; and goes for all of us.

Jo Bendon, 38

I started CrossFit just after my 36th birthday when I had a mid life crisis and realised that my lifestyle needed to change. So, I bit the bullet and booked the Induction Sessions, even though I had not exercised regularly for about 20 years.

The first day I remember standing outside CrossFit Initiate in the car park thinking, “What are you doing? You’re 36 and really unfit!” However, I took that first step and walked in and honestly I’ve never looked back.

At the start I was like most women, I wanted to lose weight (I was 10st, I’m now 8st 4), tone up (I’ve lost 11% body fat) and have a bikini body by my summer holidays, but I soon realised that CrossFit Initiate would become more than just an exercise class or an average gym, it would become like an extended family.

The coaches are very friendly and the other members made me feel welcome straight away. I never felt intimidated or self-conscious. It made no difference what level I was at, every movement could be scaled (and I did this regularly and still do). Everyone was encouraging and celebrated every achievement no matter how small. I would watch more experienced members lifting weights, doing press ups and pull ups thinking “I’ll never be able to do that”, but 2 years later I’m lifting weights, doing press-ups off dumbbells and recently I achieved my first pull up!

Before I started, I had plenty of time but made excuses not to exercise, but at CrossFit Initiate, there’s always a class or open gym session to make training accessible. Now I train 4/5 times a week, including Bootcamp on the weekend.

It’s easy for me to recommend CrossFit Initiate because I have seen the results for myself. I am so impressed that my 14 year old son now attends CrossFit Teens and he loves it too!

Many have asked, “Why CrossFit Initiate?”, and I always say that if it’s capable of keeping me interested in exercising after two years it’s doing something right! Fantastic coaches, awesome community feeling, variety of workouts and social events too.

Who would have thought that at 38, I would have entered 2 CrossFit Games Qualifiers, completed a 12 hour WODathon and be in the best shape of my life!

A massive thanks to Steve, Jolee and Sabrina for all the encouragement, time and support they have given me, and who knows, by the time I’m 40 I may have done my first muscle up!!

For anyone, no matter what age or ability, who’s wondering what CrossFit is all about, just give it a go and I promise you won’t regret it.

Ryan Owen, 30

I’ve always done some sort of exercise, whether it’s been in the gym or playing rugby. I wouldn’t say I’ve really pushed myself mind.

After moving in with my partner and slacking off in the gym the pounds started piling on. It wasn’t long until I weighed nearly 16 stone. I new I had to do something but I found it hard to get motivated to go to the gym or do any exercise. I heard a few good things about CrossFit Initiate that had recently opened just down the road from me, it sounded good so I looked for some videos online and decided to give it a go.

My wife and I did the Induction classes together, I loved it but she wasn’t so keen. I’m not going to lie I found it tough, my ego would often get the better of me and I wouldn’t scale the workouts like I should have.

After listening to the coaches and scaling the workouts, it didn’t take long for me to notice some changes, not only in my appearance but in my strength and fitness too.

I guess what keeps me coming back is I don’t think I’ve ever plateaued. If I’m not getting stronger or fitter I’m learning a new technique. I’m hooked!

My wife has now started back and it’s become part of daily our routine. She has  her first comp in August and is training hard for it. I’ve competed in a few competitions and made friends for life. A lot of which came to our wedding last year.

Nathan Howells, 37

I came to CrossFit with some scepticism four years ago having been encouraged by a friend to give it a try. The reasons for my doubt were mainly that a) I was on the wrong side of 30, b) had literally never lifted a weight in my life, and c) I didn’t look anything like the people you see in the images and videos that appear when you search for ‘CrossFit’ on Google. However, I was in a rut training-wise and in need of something new. Induction completed!

Within the first week I realised how wrong I was to have those reservations and was hooked. I’ve been attending classes between 3 to 5 times a week ever since.

Being a member of CrossFit Initiate filled a void in my life that was created when I stopped playing competitive sport. I missed challenging myself and missed the competition. CrossFit allows me to enjoy both of those things again, primarily by being in competition with myself to improve and challenging myself to learn new skills.

CrossFit Initiate is a very special community of people. I love the enormous sense of communal support, encouragement, enthusiasm and friendly competition that exists there and the energy and humour that the staff and members bring to the place. Of course, it’s great that every class is varied, so I never get bored, but more importantly for me is the fact that there’s always a conversation, a joke, advice or encouragement to be found while I’m there too.

Aside from the obvious physical health benefits of participating in regular exercise, I’ve benefited equally in regard to maintaining my mental health. Regular exercise is a great way to manage stress and has aided my confidence and self esteem.

In addition to that, the role of friendship and regular social interaction in maintaining good mental health cannot be underestimated. Like many people, I have a very busy life and a demanding job that can often lead to feeling stressed, exhausted and no social time. In that sense, CrossFit Initiate offers me a pathway to all of the tools I need to maintain a happy and healthy work-life balance.