Video/Gallery: CrossFit Open UK champion granddad vs Ipswich Star reporter in tough fitness test
- Credit: Archant
My news editors have asked me to do a few unusual things for the paper over the years – dress up as a nun on a golf course, pose as an elf in the high street and get dive-bombed by an angry mob of seagulls near the office.
But when I was tasked with taking on the UK’s fittest man aged over 60, who lives near Ipswich, in a test of strength and endurance, and told by my pesky seniors that I would once again be humiliated, there was only one thing on my mind… revenge.
My opponent was granddad Mike Watts, 62, of Great Bealings. He was last month crowned the CrossFit Open UK champion for his age category.
Some 270,000 people worldwide, of all ages, entered the CrossFit Open. Once a week for five weeks, competitors were assigned a strenuous workout and submitted their time online.
It included rowing machine challenges and thrusters (lifting a 95lb barbell from squat position to overhead) and Mike finished first in the Masters 60+ category in the UK. He was joint-third in Europe and 169th out of 764 ‘CrossFitters’ worldwide.
“I am proud of it but I feel like a little bit of a fraud because I am not that fit!” Mike joked.
But surely I could beat him?
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I meet Mike at the Ipswich branch of CrossFit, described as a strength and conditioning facility, in two conjoined units in Leslie Road, off Nacton Road.
Chris Lawson, a head coach and co-owner of Ipswich CrossFit, sets out the challenge: 500 metres on the rowing machine, 15 squats with a kettlebell (x3), 10 press ups (x3).
As we warm-up, Mike tells me more about CrossFit, which began life in America around 15 years ago.
“It’s a mixture of strength work and endurance and they all include a good range of movement,” he explains.
“Around five years ago I went surfing and tried to jump off the surfboard but just wasn’t up to it.
“I have been on a fitness drive since and my personal trainer moved gyms and recommended CrossFit. It has made a big difference to my fitness.”
Mike, who has two daughters Caroline Watts, 31, and Susan Watts, 32, who is mother to his 10-week old granddaughter Isobel Priest, now trains around three times a week, as does his wife, Fiona Powell, 56.
We take up our positions on the rowing machine, wait for the countdown timer and we are off.
I’m off to a flyer, I believe, but with around 40 metres left Mike finishes! I’m playing catch-up, around five seconds behind.
In the last set of my questionable press ups, I almost draw level, but finish a second behind on five minutes and 23 seconds.
I’m congratulated for a good first effort. I return to the office and face inevitable jibes of “losing to a granddad”.
Revenge will have to wait.