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Cristian MJC challenges himself (and lockdown) with CrossFit

RW Rachel V Wall

These 30-day challenges kept Cristian sane during lockdown and, if you’re looking for a dramatic change in your physique, you might rate them too.

When lockdown hit, Cristian MJC found himself bored and craving something to sink his teeth into. So he completed one CrossFit challenge and designed another. Here, the musician, fitfluencer and BioMed graduate shares his experiences of the Murph and Harry Challenges – stomach-churning moments and all. 

The Murph Challenge is a one-mile run, followed by 300 squats, 200 press-ups, 100 pull-ups and finished with another one-mile run. The Harry Challenge (which was created by Cristian) consists of 300 sit-ups, 200 push-ups and a two-mile run. Both are completed daily for 30 consecutive days. 

Why did you rise to the Murph Challenge?

I started the Murph Challenge for the same reason a lot of people chose to exercise during lockdown – I was bored. My day had no set routine and I’ve always had a very regimented training structure, as I used to swim competitively. So with leisure centres and gyms closed, this challenge came at just the right time.

On the first day I actually threw up. These challenges are not for the faint-hearted

Was the schedule as gruelling as it sounds?

There’s no denying it was extremely intense. The proof is in the YouTube video, as on the first day I actually threw up. Then on the third day I experienced such agony from the squats that I couldn’t walk. But the benefits to my physique and cognition were incredible. I could feel the endorphin rush of a high-intensity workout lasting for longer into the day and I started waking up feeling more energised and refreshed. A couple of weeks in I didn’t even need caffeine anymore.  

The great thing about these regimens is they are a full-body workout that challenges the main areas of focus for a bloke. Pull-ups cover your back and biceps, press-ups are for your chest – and the whole thing is also a cardio workout, which is what helps to trim fat. 

But, seriously, these challenges aren’t for the faint-hearted and I wouldn't recommend them to someone who’s not very athletic. On top of the extreme physical challenges, you have to summon a lot of resilience and mental strength. You have to think, this is a tough challenge that I'm fully committed to for 30 days – and that’s how you’ll see results. I’d definitely say that, if you’re looking for a dramatic change in your physique, both of these regimens will do that.

What’s the Harry Challenge?

Midway through my Murph Challenge my Grandad passed away, so I created the Harry Challenge in his memory. After seeing my 30-day results people were inspired to do it themselves, so I thought I’d make a follow-on challenge to capitalise on the progress I’d already made – and raising awareness and money for charity made it even better.  

Personally, I think women would enjoy the Harry Challenge more because it has a greater focus on core and bodyweight exercises, which allow for well-distributed muscle use. Instead of setting unrealistic pull-up goals, you can do burpees, which work the full body and are an extension of cardio.  

Is your diet as clean as a whistle?

I eat whatever I want, seriously. It’s all about everything in moderation and sustaining a healthy balance. There’s no fitness secret - professional athletes train hard and eat when they’re hungry. I’m completely anti diets and marketing ploys and, rather, I’m for exercise and enjoying the things you want to enjoy but balance that with healthy decisions. 

Fundamentally, it seems wrong that people believe leading a healthy lifestyle involves sacrifice. There is a negative connotation associated with a lot of healthy eating - an idea that everything has to be modified. But that couldn’t be further from the truth and that’s what I want to advocate to people. If there were a secret to good health, it would be finding the motivation to exercise. I can train away whatever I eat because I’m passionate about fitness. That means I can eat well and there’s no need for a salad- only diet. 

Are you partial to a tipple?

I like a drink but during both challenges I really wasn’t interested. When you're working out, obviously, your body is deprived of certain specific nutrients and maybe you don't feel as inclined towards a glass of red wine in the evening. Instead you crave a high-calorie milkshake because that’s what your body needs to feel replenished. Honestly, when I’m in full-swing fitness mode I don’t really have a desire to drink. 

How did you stay on track?

It’s about that balancing act again. It’s incredibly hard to put your body through the physical challenges of both the Murph and Harry Challenge if you’re not motivated to finish them but you have to remind yourself it’s a short period of time and push through. Lockdown is the perfect time to give these a go, because you can throw yourself into them headfirst and embrace the intensity. 

With regular training regimens, you need to stick to working out three times a week and you need to enjoy the experience, so find a form of exercise that you love doing. But remember that it has to be strenuous and you’ve got to commit to that time – every time. 

What’s your top challenge tip?

Stretch. Stretching is the most important and you have to take that seriously if you want to complete both challenges. I would dedicate at least 15 minutes to stretching and after that, perform a good quality warm-up. That's why you need to set aside longer than an hour a day for these challenges. They need a good chunk of time but that’s also why now’s the perfect time to try them.

I created 'The Harry Challenge' in memory of my grandad, Harry Clarkson, and to raise money for the NHS workers that worked tirelessly treating my grandad, and every other grandad, grandparent, parent or loved one that has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Please donate and say thank you for all that the NHS is doing to help us via the link below.

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Cristian MJC challenges himself (and lockdown) with CrossFit

RW Rachel V Wall

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