Anyone remember this???
Posted to: Fitness and Nutrition Spotlight Hampton Roads.com
© June 15, 2009
This gym has no cardio machines. Traditional hand weights aren’t lying around either.
Today’s session actually doesn’t even take place inside the gym. It’s in the parking lot of Compound Crossfit in Greenbrier.
The equipment could be considered pretty low-tech in the world of workouts, too: a mat, a box, a medicine ball and a kettlebell, a thing that looks like a heavy metal ball with a handle.
All of that fits for Crossfit, a so-conventional-it’s-unconventional strength and conditioning regimen that finds itself with a bit of a following in Hampton Roads – despite its heavy demands on the body and concerns by some in the fitness community about whether it works or if it could cause injuries.
Crossfit combines weightlifting, gymnastics and interval training, and bills itself as taking the best from each athletic field and combining it into a fitness program. The motto: “We specialize in not specializing.”
“Our sport is fitness,” said Ryan Allday, a former Navy diver who owns Compound Crossfit, one of several gyms that has sprouted in Hampton Roads.
The idea is to do short – for some people 10 to 15 minutes – high-intensity routines that are different each time, so they eventually work the entire body. The varied workouts are supposed to “shock” the muscles so they never get comfortable doing the same thing twice.
The results can be weight loss or improved tone. Badly calloused hands are part of the deal, too. Crossfit’s fans say its most touted benefit is how it prepares you for life, whether it’s lifting a heavy bag of groceries or dragging a victim from a burning house.
“If you train your body in isolation and the house is on fire, your body won’t work as a unit,” Allday said. “You want to train your body as a whole, so it works as a whole.”
True to Crossfit form, a gym membership isn’t required.
“I’ve never been to a Crossfit gym,” said Old Dominion University sophomore Ben Smith, who will compete to be named the Fittest Man on Earth in the Crossfit Games next month in Aromas, Ca. The Great Bridge High School graduate won a regional competition in Virginia Beach in April.
He gets his routines online at www.crossfit.com, where two routines are posted at all times – one more advanced than the other. The workouts have names. The “Cindy” calls for five pull-ups, 10 pushups and 15 squats. The more advanced “Mary” consists of five handstand pull-ups, 10 one-legged squats and 15 pull-ups.
Don’t know how to do a handstand pull-up? Click on the link for exercises and demos, and a video guides you through.
“I can do it when I feel like it,” said Smith, whose only investment was a pull-up bar and a pair of weightlifting shoes. “I never thought I could do that much work that fast.”
The powerful workout attracts devotees from the military, and police and rescue workers.
Crossfit was invented by a former gymnast named Greg Glassman, in his California garage in the 1980s. It gathered national steam when he launched crossfit.com in 2001 and began sharing the free workouts and asking people to post their results. Affiliate gyms started popping up around the country.
Questions also remain about the workouts’ effectiveness.
Physical trainer Erika Smith, who works at the Lifestyles Center at Chesapeake Regional Medical Center, believes the benefits of a traditional cardio workout are still superior.
“You need that 30 to 45 minutes of constant cardio to keep your heart rate up,” she said. “You get the strength benefits with Crossfit, but for a lot of our members, that would be a pretty intense way to train.”
True, there’s no downtime in Crossfit. Every second counts as folks compete against each other with their times charted when they finish a workout.
“Crossfit is geared toward people who are really driven and those who get really, really bored easily,” said Thomi Gill, owner of Virginia Beach Crossfit. “The group atmosphere offers lots of support, too. It’s shared pain.”
Gill’s gym started out in her garage, and her new facility off First Colonial Road has 2,300 square feet and nearly 80 members. Allday coached a handful of folks in his back yard until opening Compound Crossfit in Chesapeake in February, and he now has 40 members. Sara Wilkinson of Crossfit Odyssey in Virginia Beach began with six members and now has close to 70 at the facility she opened in October.
“It’s extremely rewarding,” Gill said. “Now if my car breaks down, I feel like I could push it a mile to a gas station. Crossfit prepares your body for whatever comes your way.”
Joining a Crossfit gym isn’t cheap. Solo memberships can run $120 to $150 per month. Other options are available at most gyms, including a wedding primer at Compound Crossfit that promises to whip you and your wedding party into shape for $250.
Amy Pemberton has tried other workouts – and prefers Crossfit. The 33-year-old Virginia Beach resident wanted to get her strength back following a recent pregnancy that became complicated when she learned she had breast cancer. She won a membership to Compound Crossfit and has been hooked ever since.
“Coming in here I could hardly do anything,” she said. “Now I love it. It’s something different every day. It’s the best workout I’ve ever had. It’s so intense.”
Allday has written the parking lot workout for this day – 30 box jumps, 20 abdominal twists and 15 kettlebell swings – on a dry erase board.
Translated, that means jumping from the ground onto a 20-inch-high box and jumping down. That’s followed by sitting and twisting while moving a medicine ball side to side. A kettlebell swing involves swinging the weight while performing a squat.
The plan is to do three sets of that routine as fast as possible.
Pemberton isn’t ready to leap onto a 20-inch box, so she stacks two weights on top of each other to create a small jump. Thirty straight jumps are daunting for her, too. Until she gets there, she steps on and off the box if fatigue takes over.
Likewise, the traditional 25-pound kettlebell is too heavy for Hunter Abdow, who is just 14 and a student at Crestwood Middle School. She uses an 18-pound one.
Good form is essential. Compound Crossfit trainer Ben Leichty makes sure everybody is doing the exercises the correct way.
“Jump with both feet; land with both feet,” Leichty reminds for the box jumps as Allday cranks up the volume to Sir Mix-a-Lot’s “Baby Got Back.”
Hunter needs little instruction when it’s time to start, as she has been coming for months with her stepmother, Renee.
Pemberton fatigues early, but never quits, urged on by Leichty and many from the advanced class that has stuck around to be cheerleaders.
“Keep pushing!” Leichty urges.
Hunter is finished first, in 10 minutes, five seconds. Chugging from her water bottle, she plants herself in front of an oversized fan.
“I feel so healthy afterward,” she said. “You have this urge to go do something healthy afterward, like eat a salad.”