I contacted Mike Dorssom, Owner of Crossfit 7220, to find out more about the Crossfit phenomenon and how it will get us in shape for tomorrow. He invited me to meet three of his trainers: Nicole, Gretchen and Lindsey, who explained the unique characteristics of Crossfit training and challenged me to attend a workout. I couldn’t refuse the opportunity to knock myself out at 7,220 feet above sea level.
Crossfit 7220 is a big, open space with apparatus around the edges. Along the east wall is a set of steel frames, on the opposite side a grid of steel columns and rings is like a giant jungle gym. Hand weights, medicine balls, rowing machines, and other contraptions are stacked in corners. It reminded me of a circus tent. When I arrived, a solo man was performing a series of exercises with various contraptions. Some were traditional stretches and weight work, others I did not recognize.
Crossfit is both highly structured and completely individualized. Every day a unique workout is posted on the whiteboard. Classes are scheduled throughout the day. People of all ages and fitness levels follow the same workout, modified to their level. Alternatively, members can came anytime and do the workout alone. Each day’s workout focuses on a few muscles groups. Over the course of a week or so, every body part gets taxed and strengthened.
Every Crossfit workout stresses three characteristics: constant variation; functional movement; and high intensity. Each 50-minute class follows a pattern. Start with a warm up focused on mobility. Add dynamic activities that mirror movements we use in daily life. Build up to the workout of the day. Go all out for an eighteen-minute sequence of exercises performing AMRAP – as many reps as possible. Close out the session with a cool down.
Crossfit, which was developed in the early 2000’s, has a boot camp energy and enthusiasm. There are hundreds of workout sequences; the most popular ones are named for fallen veterans. Although each Crossfit gym is individually owned, on certain days of the year all Crossfit gyms do the same sequence in honor of revered veterans. The Murphy Workout is a favorite among all three trainers.
There is also a focus on nutrition. Food is fuel, eat enough of the right stuff and your fitness, your strength, your endurance will improve. Crossfit 7720 has presentations for members about optimal eating and challenges that tie performance objectives to nutritional improvements.
I returned later that afternoon for a workout, the gym truly was a circus. About eighteen of us stood in a large circle: men and women, young and old, fit and less so. Our leader led us through stretches, easy at first, but they grew challenging fast. When he had us walk across the gym in deep lunges, both forward and backward, I fell behind everyone else. No one minded, the rest of the group cheered the newbie on. I was felt good, though winded, when we began the eighteen-minute workout: 22 snap presses (squat down and pick up a dumbbell from the floor, rise up and snatch it overhead, eleven times with each arm) followed by 11 push-ups (which you can do on the floor, with your feet raised for more challenge, or your arms raised for less) followed by 22 Russian twists (lay on the floor, lift your torso and your legs, shift a medicine ball from your left side to your right). The instructor used a 35-pound weight for his snatches. I looked at the size of his biceps and selected a 15-pound dumbbell for myself, a 12-pound medicine ball for my twists.
Ready, set go. They pumped up the music, set the scoreboard-size time clock to count down from 18, and everyone went wild. So did I, at least at first. Set number one, all good. Second set, my push-ups started to sag. Third set, I retreated to the cross bar near the wall to make my pushups easier. Fourth set, my sides burned in my Russian twists. Fifth set…whoa, was I going slow. Finally, I finished my sixth set, the buzzer rang and cool down began.
I never get sore from cycling anymore, even when I do centuries. The muscles I need for pedaling are conditioned, and the rest of me, well, not so much. My abdominals, my shoulders, my triceps, were sore for days after my sojourn into Crossfit. I’m in pretty good shape, but Crossfit is a whole other level.
How will we live tomorrow?
“Everyone has their own lens of competition. Crossfit brings out the best aspects of ourselves.” – Lindsey
“We are ready for anything because we are training every aspect of our physical condition. We are better equipped for physical and mental challenges.” – Nicole