Looking up at the clock, there are five more reps still to squeeze in. As our arms threaten to give way beneath us, we glance around the room. There’s a distinct feeling that the words ‘giving up’ aren’t in these people’s vocabulary. Some are even smiling. It’s 7.45pm and we’re in a CrossFit class, an exercise concept and competitive fitness sport that has taken the world by storm, and one such army of followers is proud to call this box in Portimão home.

Set up by Pedro Nobre, an IT teacher turned personal trainer and fitness instructor who “heard about an innovative and comprehensive training concept” in his search for a more challenging workout, the CrossFit Portimão “box” was officially affiliated in 2013. Starting in a small room with just five people, the box went from strength to strength, first with a dedicated area at Village Fitness in Portimão, by then catering to more than 80 ‘athletes’, and then to a 200sqm warehouse in the industrial area near Aqua Shopping, its new home since December. Described on the official website as “the principal strength and conditioning programme for many police academies and tactical operations teams, military special operations units, champion martial artists, and hundreds of other elite and professional athletes worldwide”, CrossFit is a high-intensity workout created in 2000 by American coach Greg Glassman. Essentially, it’s a full-body programme that combines functional, dynamic and extremely varied exercises by integrating elements of cardio, weightlifting, plyometrics, core training and gymnastics. With the main goal of preparing you for the unexpected, CrossFit now has a legion of supporters worldwide, and the Algarve is no different. It’s tough. There’s no denying that. But then again, few fitness concepts boast such drastic improvements in as little as two weeks, according to Pedro, a CrossFit Level 1 Trainer who has judged CrossFit competitions both here and in the UK. “It’s about overall improvement and preparing the body for everyday situations, like picking up objects or running, or it can prepare you for something specific like a marathon, for example. People find they are more able in their day-to-day lives and wake up with more energy.” At the Portimão box, a world apart from a regular gym with barbells, kettlebells, climbing ropes, plyo boxes, gymnastic rings and even tractor tyres dotted around the place, there are daily CrossFit training sessions limited to eight people (Pedro recommends three sessions a week for the best results) which comprise the WOD (Workout of the Day), a set of exercises defined by Pedro, while Benchmark workouts allow athletes to track their progress. The On Ramp class is recommended for beginners to learn the basic exercises correctly (such as air squats, shoulder presses and deadlifts) while the Open Box is there for the athletes who compete in the many CrossFit competitions now taking place across the country. Besides these, there’s Oly, which focuses on Olympic lifting movements, Strength Training, CrossFit Endurance (run and bike) and Gymnastics, the first in the country to incorporate it in its box. At the new location, they also hope to combine the concept with the self-defence technique of Krav Maga.

While it does have its sceptics, the beauty of CrossFit, says Pedro, is that all exercises can be adapted to each individual, whatever age or sex, and there is always something to work towards or something new to try, whatever your level. “It translates into real life, from the 60-year-old doing handstands with the children to climbing a rope up a tree. It’s about feeling like kids again.” But it’s not just about the training. CrossFit has an incredibly strong community spirit and the social side is equally important to the Portimão coach. While in the box, the philosophy is to welcome and encourage others, outside they hold various monthly events, from lunches and dinners to bike rides and beach days. They also receive visits from athletes from other boxes, whether from Portugal or abroad ­ some to work out, others to simply pick up a t-shirt as a souvenir ­, and Pedro hopes to introduce CrossFit bootcamps, which would combine training, the Algarve’s climate and everything that comes with it.
CrossFit classes are available Monday to Saturday at CrossFit Portimão

Author: Inside Carvoeiro

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