I worked out with the Fittest Woman in the UK – here’s five things I learned

The 23-year-old CrossFit athlete certainly put me through my paces…

T3 Active Writer and Jennifer Muir working out
(Image credit: WIT)

"Is this a workout where we're going to be able to talk?" I ask. "No, I won't be talking through this," replies Jennifer. Oh God...

I've arrived at WIT, a CrossFit gym in London, to do a workout with Jennifer Muir, the Fittest Woman in the UK. WIT Athlete Jennifer was the highest-placing UK athlete at the 2023 European CrossFit semi-finals, giving the 23-year-old the highly acclaimed title of Fittest Woman in the UK.

I was told that we'd be doing a 40-minute high-intensity workout, so I've come mentally prepared. But Jen has a cold, so the workout has changed last minute. "I didn't think it was wise to do anything upside down today," she chuckles in her Scottish accent. I can't tell you how relieved I am to hear this, yet intrigued as to what on earth she’d had in store for us.

Instead, we’re doing a conditioning workout – 40 calories on the rower, ski-erg and air bike, followed by a two-minute rest. Then we're repeating all the exercises again but for 30, 24, 16 and 8 calories. I'm slightly more relieved by this news.

Sweat and exhaustion 

As we set up on the rowers, Jennifer shares a couple of useful tips: let the handle go as far forward as possible before pulling it back to my chest. The second is to thrust back on my heels – she shows me that the heel on the foot strap of the rowing machine actually lifts up for this very reason. I can't believe I've never noticed this before now, so I was very grateful for the tip. Chris Brown is blaring through the gym. She counts us down from 10, and we're off!

Jennifer has an incredibly strong stroke on the rowing machine. I glance over at her monitor, she's almost at her 40 calories. We’ve only been rowing for a couple of minutes. I'm only on 30. Before I have time to pick up speed, she leaps up from the rower. I'm still loosening my straps as she's going wildly up and down on the ski-erg. I do a little hop over her rower to join.

T3 Active Writer and Jennifer Muir working out

(Image credit: WIT)

At one point, we're skiing at the same time, and for a split second, I can’t help but naively think, ‘I’m almost as fast as the Fittest Woman in the UK’. I’m quickly brought back down to reality when Jennifer throws up the ski-erg handles and jumps onto the assault bike. By the time I hurl myself up onto it, my legs are burning, I have sweat dripping from my nose, and I’m struggling to thrust the handles back and forth. But Jennifer doesn’t waiver once. I can't believe we were going to be repeating this workout four more times!

Our two-minute break felt pretty non-existent, and before I knew it, Jennifer was counting us back down again. By the time we got to the last round of eight calories, I was praying she would be fast, and she was. Eight calories were completed in a mere couple of seconds by the athlete.

The entire workout takes around 30 minutes. There are high-fives all around, and we are both sweating profusely; admittedly, Jennifer a lot more than me, which is probably due to her having a cold, not me being unable to feel the pain in my lungs.

I'm stunned by the sheer power, stamina and speed she displayed throughout each station, and I think it definitely puts my weekly workouts to shame. Although, it would be silly to compare myself to a full-time athlete who trains five hours a day, six times a week. An experience that I'll never – nor my body will let me – forget, with many things learnt along the way. Here are a few of them. 

5 things I learned

Hydrow Wave review: Pictured here, attractive young woman using the Hydrow Wave in a small apartment

(Image credit: Hydrow)

1. You can do CrossFit at home 

If you want to give CrossFit a go but aren’t sure whether you want to commit to a CrossFit gym, you can start at home instead. That’s exactly what Jennifer did. In fact, she only started doing CrossFit during the lockdowns out of her garage, following free workouts on YouTube and various CrossFit sites. You just need a pair of the best dumbbells to get started and, if possible, an Olympic barbell

2. Your diet doesn’t have to be super strict  

As the Fittest Woman in the UK, you would think Jennifer’s diet is extremely regimented, but it really isn't. For breakfast, she’ll have three scrambled eggs and a bagel; then, for lunch or dinner, it could be Bolognese. Carbs are actually what make up the majority of Jen’s diet as this is what fuels her training, and if she's eating out, she is just conscious when choosing her meal. Her pre and post-workout go-to's include Coco Pops and Rice Krispies Square Bars.

3. Fitness is about finding what you love 

When it comes to wanting to get ‘fit’, getting started is often what many of us find the hardest. But, for Jennifer, the key is finding what you truly enjoy – whether that be running, hitting the gym, swimming, working out from home, or even walking. Once you’ve found what makes you tick and, more importantly, feel good, you'll want to keep doing more. 

4. Core strength is key

We regularly bang on about the importance of having a strong core, as well as feature lots workouts to develop solid core strength, and the CrossFit athlete agrees. Nearly all of Jennifer's training sessions consist of core work, as CrossFit demands so much power and stability. Her top exercise for a strong core? High plank holds and variations of this exercise, such as bringing the elbow to knee or leg out to the side.

5. Trust yourself

We all have good and bad days, and as a professional athlete, setbacks are something Jennifer has faced, especially this year when she just missed out on going to the CrossFit Games in Madison. But the 23-year-old says motivation and progress is down to having a positive mentality and focusing on the wins rather than the losses. “You just need to believe in yourself and trust yourself that you can do it. Also, be patient with yourself. We all have bad days, but you need to try to focus on the positives, not the negatives.” 

Bryony Firth-Bernard
Staff Writer, Active

Bryony’s T3’s official ‘gym-bunny’ and Active Staff Writer, covering all things fitness. In her spare time, you will find her in her natural habitat - the gym - where her style of training is a hybrid of bodybuilding and powerlifting. Bryony loves writing about accessible workouts, nutrition and testing innovative fitness products that help you reach your fitness goals and take your training to the next level.