The Gambian Experience
By Ms Kirsty Roberts, Crossfitter of this parish
With my love for Crossfit, food and all things London, you can imagine my reaction when I was told I would have to go to The Gambia for a week on business. Not only would I be going on my own, but the luxury 5* hotel I was staying in didn’t even have a gym! Despite all this I packed my gym kit and a skipping rope and decided that if I could not go to the gym, I would make some space in my hotel room and crack on with some body weight exercises.
After the first few days of harassment and marriage proposals from the local Gambian men, I was happy to retreat to my hotel room, pop on my gym kit and spend some time with the women of Crossfit world: Cindy, Angie and some new ladies Annie, Barbara and Chelsea.
However, day three of working, eating, sleeping and constant rain started to drive my crazy. The monsoon weather meant that I could not walk outside without being submerged in a few feet of water, let alone train. So I decided there was nothing left to do but pop on some wellingtons and a rain coat and walk the streets of Africa looking for a gym. Yes, I was aware that this was not a sensible thing for a young woman to do: but with my iPod flashing “connect to power”, my Blackberry telling me I could only make SOS calls, and the only magazine telling the tales of John James and Josie in the Big Brother house, I decided to take my chances.
Luckily for me I didn’t have to walk too far from the hotel, and with a hotel security man happy to hold my umbrella and carry my bag, how could I complain? ‘Explosive Strength, Power and Stamina’ was the name of the gym. Surely I was onto a winner!
However, my excitement was short lived. The gym looked a little like something from Back to the Future: a few manually-powered bikes, running machines and a small selection of dumbbells. I was ready to give up and head back to the hotel. However, in the corner of the room I spotted a bar and a few weights. Perfect. I could pretend for a few hours of my day that I was at Crossfit London UK (minus of course the atmosphere, the people, the cool trainer’s and lovely dull UK weather).
The little tiny Gambian gym kept me sane for the rest of the trip. I was a source of entertainment for the local people who gathered in force to watch me try and obtain my personal best in back squats, front squats, power cleans and push press. Andrew most certainly would not approve of me using some of the weights without being spotted by someone, but I had been bitten by far too many mosquitoes to worry about causing myself more harm.