Kyle Murray was initially reluctant when his wife first suggested he try CrossFit.

That was about three years ago. Murray was playing rugby and was a regular gym-goer. He thought he was in good shape.

"Then I started seeing some guys around here with like 12 packs," the 34-year-old says with a laugh.

He is standing outside Mount CrossFit gym, which is now his home away from home.

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"I'm pretty much here every day."

Murray has come a long way in those three years. He is competing at his first New Zealand Nationals this weekend.

"This is the fittest I have been in my entire life, even as a young guy. I thought I was quite fit, playing rugby and stuff like that ... but nah."

He is one of nine members of Mount CrossFit (three women, six men) who will travel to the Avantidrome in Cambridge to compete against the best from around New Zealand on Saturday and Sunday.

Murray secured a place at the New Zealand Nationals finals weekend after finishing in the top 32 in his category (RX Male) during the online qualifier.

"It was a big shock for me, I didn't actually expect it. I was just keen to see where I was against all the big boys."

The online qualifier was a series of workouts released over seven days. Individual competitors had to complete each workout and have their score submitted on to the leaderboard.

Murray finished 26th. He is now aiming higher.

"You've always got to be confident; no matter what sport you do. No point going into something, especially something with a national level, not thinking that you're going to do well.

"So I'm just going to do the best I can and go as hard as I can and hope for the best."

Murray, who works at the Port of Tauranga and lives in Maungatapu, says he will probably be one of the oldest in his category.

He has done big CrossFit competitions before, including one in Australia this year, but this is his first time at Nationals and with that comes nerves.

Murray says CrossFit is all about "good vibes" and is a great way to push yourself and boost your fitness.

"The difference here is the community. I do know a lot of people call it a cult, but it is just a real good vibe. Everyone is just here to work out, do the best they can do and there's no criticising anyone. We're all here for the same reasons, just to get fitter and healthier."

Everyone at the gym is supportive, Murray says, and that rubs off on your lifestyle as well.

"Because everyone's on the same buzz, you end up finding yourself doing a lot better with your eating habits."

He hasn't drunk alcohol for more than seven months. It's part of a strict diet and programme introduced by his coach.

"But probably after this weekend I'll have a good few beers," Murray says.

That shouldn't hurt his pack count too much. When he started CrossFit he had a one pack. Now he has four.

"I'm getting to that 12, but it will take a while," he says, again with a laugh.

Maybe by then he will have a national title or two to his name as well.

Nine Mount CrossFit members will compete at New Zealand Nationals
RX Male
• Kevin Manuel qualified 6th
• Bayley Martin qualified 17th
• Kyle Murray qualified 26th
RX Female
• Jane Robertson qualified 10th
• Shamay King qualified 13th
• Teresa Harrington qualified 32nd
Intermediate Male
• Riley Martin qualified 19th
• Hirini Houia qualified 21st (but is injured)
• Luke Balvert qualified 36th (going in place of Hirini Houia)
Scaled Male
• David Palmer qualified 1st