By BECKY WYLIE
CrossFit. You may have heard of it and you may even know someone who attends CrossFit classes. But what exactly is it?
I myself know several people who have attended classes. I, however, have never taken a class, and I’m not going to lie. I had a lot of misconceptions going into this article about what exactly goes on in a CrossFit class.
But, I recently had the opportunity to observe a class at our very own CrossFit Liberty Hill. Walking into the gym (or box as it is known in the CrossFit community), one of the first things that surprised me was the variety of equipment that was available.
Previously, when I thought about the types of exercises involved in CrossFit, I pictured Olympic lifts such as the clean and jerk as well as the snatch. I also pictured pull ups, squats and dips, this lead me to believe the only equipment might be tires, Olympic rings, barbells and pull up bars. I was wrong. Yes, there are the previously mentioned equipment, but also sandbags, weights, a rower and much more.
Intrigued, I asked owner Ryan Schaefer the reason behind the varied equipment.
Coach Ryan said CrossFit is based on three concepts — Constantly Varied, Functional Movement and Metabolic Intensity. Constantly varied simply means every day you step into the box, you’ll be getting a different workout from any of the previous workouts. Yes, there may be some exercises that are repeated such as squats and burpees, but each workout is specifically planned out to help you achieve your fitness goals.
Coach Ryan and the other coaches consider their approach to designing programs “goal oriented.” The team sets out to create programs three months in advanced based on the goal of the program. The beauty of this is individual goals such as losing weight or gaining strength fit perfectly into their program. The coaches are able to modify any exercise to fit your individual goals, including losing weight, gaining strength, and dealing with injuries.
With a smaller group size than most health club group exercise classes, the coaches are truly able to monitor your form and technique as well as assist you in modifying a specific exercise.
There are several workouts known as “benchmarks” that are always consistent. These workouts along with the results are posted all over the walls. The workouts are a way to track your progress and they also play a bigger role in the class.
Most of the workouts are named after a fallen soldier or a storm. When a benchmark that is named after a fallen soldier is the workout of the day, the coaches begin with explaining who the soldier was and the workout is done in memory of that individual.
On CrossFit Liberty Hill’s Facebook page some of the photos of the fallen are also posted as well as information about them.
Functional movement is a term that is often used in the health and fitness world. It simply means a movement that is used in your daily life. Exercises such as squats, the clean as well as dips and core exercises to some degree mimic everyday movements.
Consider how many times a day you go from sitting to standing or how often you bend down to pick up your children. Improving not only your strength but also your form with specific exercises carries on to your everyday life.
Metabolic Intensity refers to getting your metabolism up and burning more calories. Exercises such as sprints, tire flips, and burpees are several ways to get your metabolism fired up. The faster your metabolism, the more calories you will burn and unless you are trying to gain weight, this is always a good thing.
Coach Ryan and his staff of coaches also offer nutrition counseling to their members. The gym partners with a nutritionist if a member feels they need more information on their diet. Free classes on nutrition are also offered throughout the year.
CrossFit Liberty Hill offers a free community class every Saturday at 10 a.m. This class is a terrific way for you to come view the box, meet the trainers and try a workout. Most classes last an hour and include a warm up as well as a cool down and stretching period.
Don’t worry if you can’t find someone to watch the kids. There is a climate controlled kids room for them. On the day I was there, two little girls were also there. I was really impressed to see how the group interacted with them and acted as though this was a regular occurrence. The girls stayed off the mat and entertained themselves throughout the entire workout. I must say as a mom, this made me not feel so bad about bringing mine.
One thing special about CrossFit is the personalized attention the member receives from the coaches.
Before you can even attend a class, you must go through a mandatory “Elements” class. This consists of two one-hour classes where you will receive individualized instruction working with a coach to learn the basics of CrossFit.
Each workout is planned for you. There is no need to worry about what body part to work or fear of hitting a plateau. Just walk in and read the board, the workout is there for you. In the box, you receive individualized attention from coaches who are not only CrossFit certified but are normal everyday people who have themselves seen results. They have been where you are.
Coach Leslie Leath was diagnosed with Lupus, but after changing her diet and becoming involved in CrossFit, her flare-ups are now minimal. Coach Brandon Leath has lost over 40 pounds since becoming involved with CrossFit.
You can join CrossFit without a contract, and the monthly fees may be higher than other gyms, but the number of classes are unlimited and personal attention and instruction are the value.
In my quest to get out of my comfort zone and try new exercise concepts, I will be attending one of the free Saturday workouts. If you’re not quite ready to attend a class, stop by and observe one of the classes.
CrossFit Liberty Hill is located at 140 Jonathan Drive Unit C. The website, www.crossfitlibertyhill.com, is a great way to not only find out a little more about the gym but also the times as well as the WOD or workout of the day. There is also a Facebook page that features reviews by members, recipes, posts and other information.