NATO’s Black Box: “We’re not here to judge each other”

Fear and trepidation are words which come to mind upon entering the infamous black box. NATO’s black box has no windows or mirrors, only four black walls staring blankly back and a room full of unfamiliar equipment I wouldn’t know the names of let alone how to use. The kettle bells may have been colourful but the next hour seemed like a dark tunnel I was bracing myself to enter.

NATO's Blackbox

NATO’s Blackbox

I wondered if the warm-up, which consisted of a 400m run, followed by the dreaded burpees, sit-ups and squats, could have made an effective workout in itself. But then, to my alarm, came the crunch of each Crossfit session: the WOD, and todays was deadifts aplenty.


NATO’s WOD including handstand push ups and deadlifts

‘Who has done deadlifts before?’, Christos, NATO’s Crossfit coach, asked. To my dismay, the few other beginners had all had some experience with weight-lifting. Perfecting our deadlift technique was followed by practising handstand push-ups with our knees propped on top of tyres for those who couldn’t manage handstands against a wall.

NATO employee Lona Kelgor from Denmark has been training for a year and a half at NATO’s blackbox. She said, “A friend of mine recommended it to me. She said it was great fun with splendid people and that it would help me get stronger. I love it most of the time, especially when I’m done.”

Listen to what else Lona has to say about Crossfit

The race against the clock combined with the pumping music and Christos’ shouts indicated a sense of urgency in the box. As much as this was an individual competition, it was also about team motivation. Just as I was about to give up on my 50kg deadlifts, everyone’s attention seemed to turn towards myself, directing cries of ‘you can do it!’, ‘only two more!’ at me. Needless to say this spurred me on, I pushed myself to my limits and just about managed five deadlifts of my maximum weight. Was I being swept along with the vigour of the Crossfit clique?

Trying out handstand push-ups

Trying out handstand push-ups

My collapsing to the floor with exhaustion was followed by whoops and cheers from my competitors-turned-best-friends. 

‘Well done, you did well,’ Christos congratulated me and I couldn’t help but feel embarrassingly proud. French-speaking Juliana Mardon who trains at NATO’s blackbox explained, “We’re not here to judge each other. Crossfit has got a sense of community, we’re here to help each other, to practice and progress.  It’s not about who is fat or who is thin, it’s about checking technique and self-improvement.”

Listen to Juliana’s full opinion on Crossfit in French

But alas, I had completed my first WOD. My international experience of Crossfit was not one to be forgotten anytime soon. Most people are smitten after the first session, but does Crossfit have that effect on all its dabblers?

One observation on “NATO’s Black Box: “We’re not here to judge each other”
  1. Ash

    This is really interesting, but Im still a little intimated by the whole idea of it!! Im not sure I’m fit enough haha


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