There is no mirror or air conditioning, and big fans create warehouse utility that leads members to call their gym “the box.” Truck tires lean against a slump block wall, kettle bells line up behind free weights, jump ropes wait for another sweaty skip, and pull-up bars resemble scaffolding. This is no-frills, functional fitness. This is CrossFit.
Outside Your Comfort Zone
Greg Glassman conceived the tough workout format to keep the Santa Cruz, CA Police Department in shape. In 2000, Glassman founded CrossFit and describes it as “constantly varied, high-intensity, functional movement.” All coaches receive training based on his principles to become level one trainers.
Laura Dowdey, owner of CrossFit Copperfield and a certified personal trainer, says that the most popular misconception about CrossFit is that you must be in shape before you start. The multi-dimensional workout involves calisthenics, gymnastics, strength-building, cardio, and stretching. It’s demanding and different every day. Enter the WOD, which outlines a series of activities the group performs as a team. “CrossFit pushes people past their comfort zone, helping them to be comfortable with being uncomfortable,” Dowdey says.
Such determination bonds group members. “Most people start coming three times a week, but on the days they don’t come, they wish they were here,” Dowdey says. “There is a powerful sense of accomplishment. I love to watch people grow and succeed.”
Adam Dunin is an example. At 31 years old, he has a new baby in the house and a desire to recapture the form he knew as a school athlete. Under the leadership of an ex-Olympian swim coach, Dunin has known hard work.
Remembering his first impression of CrossFit, Dunin says, “It’s crazy.” But he showed up at his local box and was hooked. “Sometimes, you hurt from the top of your head to the bottom of your feet. It’s not about going to the gym, but what you do there.” The unorthodox and diverse range of activities is the appeal for Dunin, who has adopted the mantra, “What can challenge me today?
Darlene Thomas is in the family business with Mike and Tammy Thomas, managing CrossFit Cypress. “It’s safety, first and foremost,” Darlene Thomas says. “We always go over the WOD, even if you’ve done it 100 times before.” The chances of that are slim, considering the variety of workouts.
When she first saw CrossFit, Thomas was impressed. “The women looked so strong,” she recalls. But men do not necessarily fair better just because of their inherent strength.
Egos are quickly humbled in the scalable workouts. CrossFit is evidence-based, which requires measurable, observable, and repeatable data; participants can track the return on their investment. Maximum lifts and fast times are noted, and soon, they are beaten. Running, rowing, and boxjumping join push-ups and medicine balls to form couplets, triplets, and chippers. These are types and numbers of activities that include strength and agility to form a routine.
Training for Life
Despite the punishing workouts, every age and ability can participate. Pam Munson of CrossFit Champions says, “We program the workout for you, adjusting for your abilities and needs. There is coaching and guidance from start to finish with every workout.” Anyone from grandparents to Special Forces personnel can benefit, as workout intensity and activities are modified. Munson claims 6- to 70-yearolds train at her box, where sessions are typically 40 minutes to an hour.
“Diet is a huge focus, eating clean and understanding nutrition,” Munson says. “We train for life.” All of this creates a healthy lifestyle with a ready support group at the box. Members set accountable standards encouraging one another with shouts of, “You can do it,” and they often exchange nutritious recipes on Facebook. “It’s a cross between church and Cheers,” Munson laughs, referring to the 1980s sitcom. Box owners Dowdey and Thomas echo that, saying, “Everyone knows your name.”
CrossFit coaches mount challenges at their boxes to keep members motivated, and their groups participate in many fundraisers related to health issues. Friendships grow, as does fitness and confidence. CFM