When Amelia Guinazu tried her first CrossFit class, the marathon runner and triathlete couldnt even complete the 20-minute warm-up.
CrossFit workouts have that effect. No matter how in shape you think you are, the combination of weightlifting, calisthenics and endurance can humble the most fit athlete.
That day, she sneaked out of CrossFit Charlotte. She berated herself on the drive home. She returned the next day, finished the warm-up and was hooked. No longer was I racing against the guy next to me, said Guinazu who opened her own gym, Crossfit QC, in April 2012. I was challenging myself to do something Ive never done.
CrossFit proponents say it delivers a full-body workout in a short amount of time. Its varied routines prevent boredom. Benefits include respiratory, cardio endurance and stamina.
Nearly 20 years after former gymnast Greg Glassman opened the first CrossFit affiliate gym in California, the fitness regimen he created has exploded into what some call a community and others might call a cult.
Ardent crossfitters build their lives around the culture of their CrossFit affiliate gym, called a box. They work out together and socialize together. They even have their own language, some of which has become part of gym culture. Go to any gym and its easy to find a reference to a WOD (workout of the day).
CrossFit also has critics who say its too intense and can cause serious injury. Another concern is that CrossFit-certified coaches may not have a lot of sports conditioning education.
Today, there are more than 5,500 affiliated gyms. And its popularity has spawned a commercial enterprise. Reebok launched the CrossFit Games in 2007 to find the Fittest On Earth. It airs on ESPN networks. Athletic apparel companies make CrossFit shoes and exercise equipment companies such as Rogue specialize in CrossFit equipment.
Theres a diet aspect, as well. In Charlotte, Amber Lewis, 37, founded modPALEO, a company that prepares gourmet organic paleo meals, which consist primarily of meats, seafood, vegetables, fruits and nuts.
Lewis, a level one trainer, started modPALEO in November 2011 with herself and 10 clients, mostly friends. Today, she has an executive chef, 12 employees and 185 clients.
Weve grown quite tremendously within the world of CrossFit, said Lewis, who describes CrossFit as a playground for adults.
Its an expensive playground, with fees ranging from $100 to $200 a month. Guinazu acknowledges its more expensive than traditional gyms, but notes that CrossFit provides one-on-one coaching during the classes. She and other gym owners try to put novices at ease with beginner or free introductory classes and some even offer women-only classes. Heres a guide to help you get started.
What you need to know
The Charlotte area boasts nearly 30 CrossFit affiliates compared to only a handful five years ago. Like yoga studios, there are different types of CrossFit boxes (jargon for gyms). Each has a different vibe and focus. There are boxes that emphasize strength, endurance, gymnastics, kettlebell or a combination of disciplines. Some are hyper-competitive, others are family-friendly and many fall in the middle. Questions to ask:
• Are the coaches licensed?
• How much experience do they have?
• Is someone certified in first aid and CPR?
• What is the programming focus?
• What are your personal fitness goals: strength, endurance, toning, CrossFit competition?
• How long are the typical workouts?
• Is the gym competitive? (If the answer is an overly enthusiastic yes, then the gyms vibe may be cliquish and full of egos.)
• How large are the typical classes? (Ideally, 15 students per coach to provide one-on-one attention)
• What is the class schedule? (CrossFit boxes are not open all day. Be sure there are classes offered at times that fit your schedule.)
Often an upscale warehouse-style space with state-of-the-art equipment.
210 Rampart St., Unit F
Charlotte, NC 28203
CrossFit Vitality: Offers standard CrossFit classes along with a womens class, kids class, group class. Programming focus varies among strength, endurance and gymnastics; $155-$205 monthly.
7285 Westwinds Blvd.
Concord, NC 28027
Metro CrossFit: The Selwyn Avenue location is a full-service gym that offers CrossFit along with a variety of exercise classes, towel service, massage and more. The Fourth Street location is dedicated primarily to CrossFit. $150-$175 monthly.
2820 Selwyn Avenue, Suite 200 in Charlotte, North Carolina
1610 E. 4th Street, Charlotte NC 28211
Ranges from outfitted warehouse to a rustic warehouse. Equipment can be handcrafted or manufactured.
CrossFit QC: A woman-owned facility that emphasizes community and camaraderie. The programming focus is cardiovascular endurance and toning. Rate: $15 for drop-in classes. Packages start at $120 per month.
10924 Granite Street
Charlotte, NC 28273
CrossFit Charlotte: Widely considered the first CrossFit facility in Charlotte. Programming focuses on endurance, gymnastics and weightlifting. This affiliate appeals to people in all fitness levels and offers workouts and courses to prepare crossfitters for competitions. Rate: $145 per month.
9535 Monroe Rd
Charlotte, NC 28270
(Note:CrossFit Charlotte owner Andy Hendel is opening a Lux facility called Reebok CrossFit Charlotte Uptown at First and Mint, scheduled for the fall.
Fort Mill CrossFit: A Christian-based facility with an emphasis on strength and conditioning. Packages start at $125 per month.
148 Flint Hill Road
Fort Mill, SC 29715
WOD: Workout of the day
Wallballs: Hold a medicine ball, squat down and explosively stand up, throwing the ball toward a target above the head.
DU: Double unders - jump rope passes under feet twice with only one jump.
Thruster: A barbell front squat straight into an overhead barbell press known as a push press.
Burpee: Also known as squat thrust. It combines a squat with a pushup and jump.
Metcon: Metabolic conditioning is designed to train stamina, endurance and conditioning. It is typically timed and performed at high intensity.
Tabata: Interval training, typically 20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest repeated eight times.
CrossFit Open: Virtual CrossFit Games. Competitors register online and compete on their own or at local CrossFit boxes. They record their times online.
Do try this at home
If youre interested in creating a gym at home, the best place to start is www.crossfit.com. Once you determine your fitness goals, scroll through the list of affiliates on CrossFit.com and determine which affiliates WODs fit your workout needs. What youll need:
• A barbell
• Weight plates (pairs) ranging from 10-45 lb. (depending on your strength)
• Medicine balls (one for wall balls and one for ball slams) ranging from 10-20 lb. (depending on your strength)
• Jump rope
• Pullup bar
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