Don’t expect treadmills, mirrors or tiny TVs when you step into a CrossFit gym. Instead, you’ll find what CrossFitters call “the box” — large, open buildings that are more like warehouses than gymnasiums.
With rubber tiles covering the floors, gymnastics rings hanging from the ceiling and kettlebells lining the walls, the three Rochester CrossFit gyms—CrossFit Credence, CrossFit Progression and CrossFit Unshackled—are all Spartan spaces by design.
The message is clear: the box is a workspace.
CrossFit’s origins trace back to 1995, when a coach named Greg Glassman, who trained police officers in Santa Cruz, Calif., opened a gym based on his unique principles. Since 2005, this fitness regime has sought to be the ultimate, all-around fitness program and has exploded into a wellness phenomenon, expanding from 18 gyms to about 4,000 internationally, according to CrossFit Credence co-owner, David Timm.
Since late 2009, three CrossFit gyms have opened in Rochester. Together, they train about 350 fitness patrons, many of whom are women. The workouts are designed for full-body conditioning, using a range of exercises mostly taken from gymnastics, sprinting and weightlifting. They typically are short and intense, with athletes moving continuously from one exercise to another, and stress functional movements.
“We take things you do in everyday life…push, pull, run, jump, squat and throw…and put them into a workout,” says Allie Timm, co-owner and trainer at CrossFit Credence.
It’s all done on the clock. Speed is a primary goal for CrossFitters. Athletes compete to see who can finish the workout fastest. But, once they’ve finished, they’re expected to root for those still going.
“If you’re the last person finishing, you have about 10 people cheering you on,” says Chris
Mundt, owner of CrossFit Unshackled, which opened in January.
You might expect to see only fit young people, sports players or extreme fitness buffs in a CrossFit gym, and you’ll likely find some. You’ll also find mothers with young children, middle-aged managers and thirty-something registered nurses coming three times a week to classes. At CrossFit Credence, patrons range from as young as age five (in a special kids’ class once a week) to age 66.
Joan Eagan, age 56, slimmed and strengthened with CrossFit: “With Dave and Allie at CrossFit Credence, I’ve lost three clothing sizes. . .and I’m stronger in my daily life in what I do.” She even credits her speedy recovery from hip surgery to her CrossFit training.
Amy Moses, age 28, ran to keep in shape before joining CrossFit Unshackled. After only a couple of weeks of full training, she says, “I can actually see my muscles, and it’s helped with my endurance.”
“This is the only thing that works for me now,” says Kit Gatcheco, the first athlete to join CrossFit Progression. “I think I’m still fit, being 40 years old.”
Is CrossFit for you?
Most of CrossFit Progression’s members have some athletic background, says co-owner Matt Arnold. But past athletic training is not required at any local CrossFit gym.
Because of the strenuous nature of CrossFit, trainers try to ensure safety and monitor the physical demands of the workouts. A doctor’s clearance is not generally needed to join but may be advisable, and all three local CrossFit gyms require newcomers to take a beginner’s course teaching safe exercise techniques, including weightlifting regimens.
Cost also may play a part in a decision to join. Monthly rates may run as high as $200, depending on the gym’s pricing and its membership levels. For more information, visit CrossFitCredence.com, CFPFIT.com (CrossFit Progression) and CrossFitUnshackled.com.