EDITOR’S NOTE: CrossFit instructors contact participants via Web site and e-mail only.
Could CrossFit — a fast-paced, Internet-based, total-body personal training system — revolutionize fitness?
Hundreds of thousands of fans worldwide certainly think so.
“For broad, general, inclusive fitness, there is no better methodology or approach,” said David Stout, a Chattanooga martial arts instructor who became Chattanooga’s first certified CrossFit affiliate last December.
FIVE THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT CROSSFIT
* Credentials: In recent years, about 700 affiliates have been licensed to teach CrossFit in groups or one-on-one. Affiliates are not required to have sports training or personal training credentials, although many, like Mike Alley of Get Built Chattanooga, do.
After passing a two-day test by CrossFit staff, affiliates acquire the right to the brand name.
There are no franchise or other fees, but affiliates must create and update daily an Internet blog for local participants.
* Background: Former Southern California gymnastics coach Greg Glassman began developing the practical, whole-body conditioning workouts in the mid-1990s.
From the beginning, the exercises were designed to help people meet typical human physical challenges such as picking up heavy objects, running to escape threats or climbing over obstacles.
* Workouts: Classic workouts are named after women. A Karen, for example, requires you to do a squat, then throw a medicine ball at a 10-foot-high target on a wall 150 times as fast as possible.
Conditioned CrossFitters accomplish this workout in as little as 4 minutes and 30 seconds, Mr. Alley said.
* Web-based growth: With the launching of the Web site in 2001, thousands of athletes around the world began signing on, working out, posting videos, e-mailing feedback and getting in shape without classes, trainers or, often, gyms.
Military personnel, police and fire officers and martial arts practitioners found a natural fit for their work and personalities.
* Potential risks: In 2005, the New York Times reported that some CrossFit followers were being hospitalized for rhabdomyolysis — muscle fiber breakdown that enters the bloodstream, poisoning the kidneys.
In Chattanooga’s CrossFit community, such extreme workouts are discouraged.
“We make no bones about it. If you perform these workouts to maximum intensity you can cause metabolic damage or end up in the hospital,” said David Stout, Chattanooga’s first certified CrossFit instructor. “I frown on folks bragging about throwing up or being hospitalized because the workout was so tough. That is a very unintelligent method of training.”
— Compiled by Kathy Gilbert
* Main Web site: www.crossfit.com. Free daily workouts, video exercise demos, complete routines.
* Get Built Chattanooga: 100 Cherokee Blvd., Suite 216, email@example.com, www.getbuiltchattanoogacrossfit.com. Weekday classes, free Saturday class, personal training. See Web site for locations and details.
* David Stout’s CrossFit blog: www.crossfitchattanooga.blogspot.com, firstname.lastname@example.org. CrossFit consulting (no classes, no personal training).
Since 2001, CrossFit (www.crossfit.com) has spread via word of mouth and the Web from soldier to soldier, police officer to fire marshal, karate fan to kung fu fighter around the globe, proponents say.
“It is entirely a grassroots movement,” Mr. Stout said.
Short, grueling workouts designed to push bodies to the limit as fast as possible are posted on the CrossFit Web site daily.
All exercises are videotaped and demonstrated.
Equipment is minimal.
There are no fees.
Participants are encouraged to post their performance and results to the site.
“We want people to come in, try the program and provide feedback so that it is a constantly evolving program,” Mr. Stout said.
Last month, Mike Alley and Katrina Fomich launched Get Built Chattanooga, the area’s first CrossFit gym, in the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Business Development Center.
“I don’t believe you have to have someone holding your hand to get an effective workout. My goal is to teach you how to do the workouts,” said Mr. Alley, a National Strength and Conditioning Association certified personal trainer at the Fairyland Club in Lookout Mountain, Ga.
CrossFit workouts use moves from Olympic and power lifting, martial arts, gymnastics, traditional physical education exercises such as pushups and pullups, running, rowing, swimming and even parkour.
The method’s appeal comes partly from the high intensity of the workouts. CrossFit also relies heavily on sports and competition.
“CrossFit is, quite simply, a sport,” the Web site states.
All workouts are timed, and participants are constantly working against the clock, their best time and other CrossFitters, Mr. Alley said.
Still, all moves are scaled back for safety’s sake. All ages, all levels of fitness and both genders are welcome, Mr. Stout added.
Marc Mayes, a 32-year-old physician’s assistant at Siskin Hospital for Physical Rehabilitation, began doing CrossFit about a year ago. He learned about the Web site while studying martial arts with Mr. Stout at Gracie Jiu Jitsu.
At the time, his routine included three-hour bicycle rides. Then his wife had a baby, and time became limited.
Today, he follows the Web routines and comes to Get Built Chattanooga’s free Saturday class.
“This is a way to get a really good workout in 20 to 40 minutes, and it affects every facet of exercise. When I get back on the bike I go farther, I power up the hills and in running I’m a lot stronger,” Mr. Mayes said.
Blake Coddington, a 17-year-old rising senior at McCallie, said he enjoyed hurtling down Finley Stadium’s field carrying a sack of kitty litter and pushing a pickup across First Tennessee Pavilion last Saturday.
“School workouts are tough, but this is definitely a butt-kicker. You almost forget you’re working out. It’s more of a game,” he said.