Once regarded as a gritty, male-dominated sport, Crossfit has earned the favour of many women in Singapore. Laine Tan investigates.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Crossfit is hands down, one of the toughest workout regimes out there. Even fitness fiends would stop in their tracks when they think of cardiovascular endurance, weight training, gymnastics movements and more… all rolled into one sweaty session. Despite images of hardcore, grimace-inducing exercises like flipping tyres and lifting bulky weights, a growing number of women are pursuing Crossfit, and swearing by it. Just how did Crossfit gain such a huge following despite its rugged reputation?


Unlike other workouts, which require a specific mobility or fitness level to be able to execute a movement, Crossfit draws on exercises that can be performed in various levels– beginner, intermediate or advanced. Differences in abilities or physique no longer stand in the way of working out together with your BFF.

“I love that a complete beginner can come into the class, look at the board, and do the same movements as the person who has done Crossfit for the past three years,” says Cassandra Lau, coach and co-owner at Actualize CrossFit. “One only has to adjust the degree or the number of repetitions of the same exercise to suit her needs.”

Not only is it accessible to all, Crossfit can be scaled according to your personal goals and physical limitations. It can be as light or gruelling as you want it to be.

“Crossfit is designed for universal scalability. We switch up the load and intensity to suit the needs of athletes, taking into account their age, experience, injury, illness and range of motion,” says Cassandra.

Even the elderly and expectant mums are welcome, albeit with some safety precautions. For example, pregnant women are advised to avoid core-related exercises or use dumbbells instead of barbells.


Crossfit workouts replicate the motions of daily movements with the aim of preventing injury. These movements often include the best aspects of workouts such as weightlifting, calisthenics, gymnastics, running and more.

By scaling up or down the intensity through adjusting weights, repetitions or speed, Crossfit balances strength and cardiovascular endurance – both aspects of fitness that are essential for an active, fulfilling lifestyle.

For instance, doing deadlifts teaches you to engage your hamstrings instead of loading your back – something you’ll put in practice to avoid straining your back when carrying groceries. And by perfecting your squats, duties such as lifting your luggage or carrying a toddler would become a breeze.


While you may start off wanting to achieve a flatter tummy or tighter tush, Crossfit will soon replace those aesthetical aspirations with an emphasis on form and function, and more importantly, a healthier motive for working out – that is, to feel good.

“Most start out for aesthetic purposes, but as they learn about the attitude and intention of Crossfit, they move from ‘working out to look good’ to ‘working out to feel good and be better’,” shares Cassandra. “Crossfit gives people new reasons to love their bodies, for what they can do rather than how they look.”

While getting lean and sculpted is a certain byproduct, Crossfit will also transform you in other ways. “Besides a better physique, many women also observe improved bone density, posture, hormonal balance and self-confidence,” adds Samuel. “With strength gains come a sense of empowerment.”


Soldiering through a physically intense workout binds people together. While Crossfit programmes may be scaled to an individual’s needs, goals and limitations, the common denominator is that 100-per-cent, allout effort everyone is expected to give.

“Though we do the same kind of workouts at different intensities, we cheer each other on and celebrate accomplishments together. Because of that, people build strong bonds through Crossfit. The environment, style as well as difficulty of the workouts make people more supportive of one another,” says Lionel Choong, co-owner and coach of Innervate CrossFit.

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Game for the challenge?


ACTUALIZE CROSSFIT 315 Jalan Besar, Singapore 048973

Fret not if you are new to Crossfit. Actualize CrossFit offers a one-hour introductory session that gives newcomers an overview of the workout, dispelling any myths and doubts. The box also conducts a Fundamentals Course that emphasises on consistent form and a hands-on on how to perform movements safely and efficiently before moving on to greater challenges. Thereafter, trainers will do a quick assessment of clients’ aptitude, competency, and potential restrictions in movement patterns before they are enrolled for a suitable WOD (Workout of the Day) class.

“Our programmes combine movements from different faculties, including weightlifting, gymnastics and high-intensity conditioning with achieving one’s fitness goals in mind. These are conducted with professional guidance and support from coaches,” says Cassandra. “Everyone is different, so every approach will be different.”

The gym aims to elevate each member’s potential and fitness through constantly varied, functional movements that are performed at high intensities. Individual performance is tracked to monitor progress and results.

Price $270 for eight-lesson fundamentals course (compulsory for newcomers); $200 for monthly limited pass (thrice a week); $250 for monthly unlimited pass
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INNERVATE FITNESS #01-04, 994 Bendemeer Road, Singapore 339943

As a social enterprise that believes in employing fitness to shape the future of fitness and the next generation, Innervate Fitness has a wide range of clients, including the elderly and physically challenged.

“Besides the fitness component, we weave in strong character development aspects to our fitness programmes. That way, there’s a more lasting impact for our clients,” says Lionel. For example, the importance of teamwork is taught using workouts that require help from other members of the group.

With its focus on functional movements, this family-friendly box is great for new or stay-at-home mothers as well. First-timers are entitled to a free trial class.

Price $250 per month or $600 per quarter
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UFIT TANJONG PAGAR 10 Hoe Chiang Road, Singapore 089315

Located five minutes away from Tanjong Pagar MRT station, UFit Tanjong Pagar is perfect for those working in the CBD area. It offers a wide array of facilities and equipment, including assault bikes, rowers and even a stretch of artificial turf to work those legs hard.

Beyond the convenient location, great facilities and a variety of equipment, you’ll love the community spirit at CrossFit Tanjong Pagar. Founder of UFit, Dean Ahmad, shares: “Everyone is treated like a family member here. It doesn’t matter if you are a newbie looking to get fitter or a seasoned gym goer looking for a change. We celebrate each others’ achievements, and we even hold regular meets outside of the gym!”

If you are completely new to the sport, opt for the Fundamentals class, which will teach you the proper form and techniques before you move on to more intense workouts. Firsttimers are entitled to a free trial class.

Price From $37.50 for a walk-in class to $400 per month for unlimited classes
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CROSSFIT FIRE CITY 111C King George’s Avenue, Singapore 208559

Even those completely new to the sport would feel right at home at this friendly Crossfit box, thanks to the coaches’ constant encouragement and welcoming community. Head coach and owner, Samuel Lim (affectionately known as uncle Sam) says: “It’s not about what you can do, but what you are willing to do. We welcome everyone. For people who are determined to exercise but lack the discipline, we would drop them messages and encourage them. For others who are more inclined to community encouragement, we will introduce them to one another so they have friends to work out with together.”

Members from the close-knit community at CrossFit Fire City are from all walks of life – doctors to designers, military men to mums – who also meet outside of the box for potlucks, performances, and other activities unrelated to fitness.

Price Various packages, starting from $26 per class
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IRON FITNESS SINGAPORE 6 Lorong 1 Geylang, Singapore 389117

Entering Iron Fitness Singapore, you will see an assortment of athletes such as rugby and football players working out alongside bodybuilders and powerlifters. This Crossfit box incorporates objective-specific programmes such as the IFSG Barbell Club and Personal Fitness Training classes that help you gain confidence as well as strength and conditioning before moving on to more complicated moves.

Like other gyms, Iron Fitness Singapore emphasises on safety. Its training programmes are designed with sufficient rest time in between to allow muscles to recover and reduce the risk of injuries. Newcomers are encouraged to begin with a 2.5-hour fundamental class that includes a movement assessment and review, basic movement exercises and practice, as well as nutrition advice that’s in line with their goals.

“We believe that the in-depth fundamental session will give each individual the required attention when learning new and complicated movements. It will also help build one’s confidence before moving on to the regular group classes,” says Kelvin Quah, founder and head coach at Iron Fitness Singapore. “To ensure workout longevity, we aim to make sessions fun yet challenging, so you’ll stay motivated throughout.”

Price $199 for a fundamental class and a 2-week unlimited trial