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Down an alleyway in East London, past a second-hand furniture shop and just before a hipster gallery is a 'gym' in a railway arch, but it's unlike any gym we've seen:  instead of treadmills and elliptical machines, think scaffolding, giant elastic bands, and sand bags.
This is CrossFit - a fitness movement that was originally developed to train elite military units, now taking root in the UK, and a favourite of celebrities like Kelly Clarkson and Malin Akerman. The goal of CrossFit is to be a well-rounded athlete, balancing strength with cardio fitness.
Their solution is to take the best of all sports and training systems and wrap them into one package, to create athletes with power and agility, strength and stamina. CrossFit combines gymnastics with Olympic weightlifting, kettlebells and circuits with cardio like rowing and mixes in a healthy dose of squats, burpees and lunges.
"CrossFit's approach is multi-disciplinary and it teaches you really cool skills" says Andrew Stemler, co-owner of CrossFit London. "It is varied, meaning you never know what's coming, and never get bored."
A typical class consists of a warm-up, a 'skills and drills' practice for handstands, rings or weightlifting and then the dreaded "WOD" or 'workout of the day' - a brutal 10-15 minute circuit.
Kate has been crossfitting for 3 years.  "I never dreamed of doing Olympic lifting or kettle bell swings, but my partner introduced me to the elements as small games or challenges.  Little by little I gained confidence."
Kate's confidence turned into results: she has lost 5 stone and gone from a size 20 to size 10.  She now assists in teaching the beginner classes, where new crossfitters learn the fundamental movements and techniques before they are allowed to join the regular classes.
We won't lie: CrossFit is hard. Really hard.   We were pushed to our limit at each class in a new way and at times thought we might even cry.  But luckily, the large muscled man next to us was also close to tears, so we felt OK.
"At the beginning, I just wanted to make it through without fainting" says Millie, a crossfitter of less than 4 months.  "But now I can do full men's pushups and I've done my first handstand.  Achieving things I've never thought possible has been a real thrill.  It's completely changed my attitude to fitness."
"You can say goodbye forever to fitness boredom and lack of results,' Kate says. "And you will have the best laugh with the friendliest bunch of people around!"  The personal support and attention from the team at Crossfit makes it a great option for anyone looking to drastically improve their fitness level and achieve real results...and if that's not enough incentive, there are a lot of cute boys there who quite often take their shirts off!


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