Days spent running on the treadmill for hours are a thing of the past for those who have discovered CrossFit, an international fitness phenomenon that crushes the concept of traditional exercise with constantly changing movements and activities.
Founded in 2000 by fitness guru Greg Glassman in a small garage, CrossFit now boasts 10,000 affiliate gyms across the world.
Featuring high-intensity interval training, Olympic weightlifting, power-lifting, gymnastics, rowing, calisthenics and strongman exercises, CrossFit, despite its high intensity, is marketed to all ages and fitness levels and can be practiced right in Marietta.
“People think, because of its intensity and skill, that they could never do any of that, but people need to realize that it’s accessible and for everyone,” said Brandon Pierce, owner and trainer of Piercing CrossFit on Putnam Street.
Pierce, who became an official CrossFit trainer in August and opened his own gym in October, said CrossFit is different in that the system trains the body to excel at a multitude of physical activities, rather than just being proficient at one.
The concept is simple in that CrossFit works off the idea of having no routine, rather than repeating a certain activity, like running or weight-lifting, over the course of a week.
“You need to be good at everything, not great at a few things, and as a result, people that go to CrossFit competitions have highly comparable numbers to people who specialize in one specific sport,” Pierce said.
At his own gym, Pierce will alternate classes so that one day, trainees could be doing rowing activities, the next day they will be doing Olympic-level lifting, then the next day a round of calisthenics.
Pierce has trainees as young as teenagers all the way up to an 82-year-old man.
“My sister started doing this and she got me started a few months ago, and it’s started a chain reaction in the family,” said Kyle Miller, 19, a Marietta College student. “I did a lot of weight-lifting in high school, but this is totally different, and really competitive.”
Miller’s sister Kelli, 22, said the competition is nothing but healthy.
“It’s all in a good way, and we all push each other,” she said. “It’s only been a few months but I love it.”
Physical therapist Jeff Cowen, the director of the First Settlement Physical Therapy office in Belpre, does CrossFit himself, but said having the proper coach is the key to avoiding the injuries that people obtain from the workouts.
“Doing something complicated when you’re exhausted, your technique can go and it can be dangerous,” he said. “Having someone that can supervise you well is key.”
Cowen said a lot of the injuries he sees are from repetitive stress often located in the shoulder, achilles heel and calves.
“If you don’t approach cautiously or ease into it, it can be traumatic for your body, so it falls upon a coach to modify and tell you how to limit yourself,” he said.
Classes run Monday through Saturday at varying times throughout the morning and afternoon, and the gym offers private sessions along with group and memberships.
“It keeps you fresh and motivated because it’s always new,” Pierce said.
It’s that fresh motivation that provides a lot of the benefits that CrossFit specializes in.
“That’s often the problem, that people get bored, hit a machine for 20 minutes then leave, then they’ll eventually stop exercising at all,” Pierce said.
Pierce himself decided to try CrossFit after watching the program’s national competitions, and realized the draw and advantage of fitness in large groups with the ability be a part of a universal community.
“It was founded on the mantra that ‘men will die for points,'” Pierce said. “Any sport where you’re put on a clock or compared to others, you will push harder to win.”
CrossFit training involves the concept of scaling, where trainers will cater to each individual trainee’s fitness level, ability and strength.
“CrossFit allows grandmas to work out with guys who are going to compete in a competition,” Pierce said. “It allows everyone to do the same workout.”
With the constantly-changing workouts that are designed to make trainees proficient in a wide range of activities, CrossFitters have the advantage of being able to do more physical work in a shorter amount of time with more efficiency, all without machines.
“It’s a high-intensity, highly-competitive atmosphere, and it’s also about strength, skill and technique, because we want you to be strong,” Pierce said. “The person that can do all of that is going to be the fittest.”