FEELING FIT: “One of the differences between us and other fitness centers is that at CrossFit you always work with a coach (trainer) and in a group environment. This is group fitness.” Dolph Geurds, owner of CrossFit Nassau, is enthusiastic about the CrossFit training method.
Couch potatoes, take note. There is another way to get up and get moving. If the traditional gym and fitness centers did not do it for you, it’s time to get off the couch and into the “Box”!
What is that, you may ask?
Here’s the deal. The CrossFit workout facility is called a “box”, not a gym.
Originally, it was kind of like a warehouse, explains Dolph Geurds, owner of CrossFit Nassau and CrossFit Mercer. “It’s like a big space. We don’t have the machines you typically see in a gym. We do have exercise bikes, dumbbells, gymnastic rings, boxes, medicine balls, pull-up bars, jump ropes, and kettle bells, but the emphasis is on using your own body weight in the workout.”
Founded in 1995 by Greg Glassman in California, CrossFit now has more than 3,400 affiliates worldwide. Its focus is on strength and conditioning by using a combination of training methods. Sessions usually include 12 to 15 clients (or CrossFitters), guided by a coach (trainer). Police and fire departments, and the military have all included the CrossFit method in their training, as have Olympic and professional athletes. Mr. Geurds is pleased that members of the women’s Olympic rowing team will come to train at his Princeton facility in the spring.
“Initially, CrossFit was for elite athletes, and then it became more about a community of people at all levels of fitness,” explains Mr. Geurds, who opened the CrossFit Nasaau affiliate at 255 Nassau Street (former site of Wild Oats) in early February. He has also owned CrossFit Mercer in Hamilton for the past three years.
“I had always been active in sports, including tennis, skiing, and soccer, and I had gone to different gyms,” he continues. “But then I happened to read about CrossFit in as magazine, and I thought it was something I wanted to know about.”
He was intrigued by the notion that function underlies much of the training. Exercises, such as sprints, lifting, pulling, and pushing, are movements that people often use in their own lives. The idea is to develop their strength, stamina, and agility, so they can perform these functions in daily life with ease.
The CrossFit concept is founded on 10 principles: cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, agility, balance, coordination, and accuracy.
“These movements build on each other,” explains a CrossFit report. “We all possess strengths and weaknesses and range of motion issues. Coaches can scale the workout, manipulating weight, distance, repetitions, and intensity to your correct capability.”
Mr. Geurds also liked the variety offered in the training. Each day’s workout is different (exercises for the day are posted on a wall), and this clearly helps prevent boredom from setting in. The idea is to complete a series of exercises within a specific time period. For example, a workout program could include five pull-ups, l0 push-ups, and 15 squats every minute for 20 minutes; or doing five rounds (sets) of three specific exercises as quickly as possible for 20 minutes without stopping.
That would certainly be demanding, but the workouts can vary in intensity, depending on the CrossFitter’s level of fitness. Thus, the program can be appropriate for all ages and levels of conditioning.
“Everyone in the group does the same exercise program, but some people will do it more slowly,” explains Mr. Geurds, who sees clients from five to 80 years old. “All our coaches are trained in the CrossFit method, and we are bringing the best kind of fitness to the world. We have taken the things that worked best, and combined them into a program for a range of people. It certainly can be high intensity, but it is all about scalability, moving within a scale, and modified to the ability of the each individual. The group includes people at different abilities together, so scalability is adjusted. The program is very flexible.
“We have people with special physical conditions, such as arthritis, injuries, etc. There is a CrossFit program for seniors and for unconditioned people. We help to strengthen the muscles, spine, and core, and this helps give people confidence.”
When people see that they can accomplish something difficult or that they thought they couldn’t do, it is very empowering, he points out.
CrossFit training offers a variety of benefits, from improving athletic ability to weight loss to better health, he adds. “We have had clients who have not only lost weight, but have been able to discontinue their medication. They lowered their blood pressure and cholesterol. I enjoy helping people in this way. When someone scales down 20 pounds and their cholesterol lowers, it makes a change in their life. I love seeing kids lose weight and be able to do the exercises, which helps to build their self-esteem. We have a special CrossFit kids’ program.”
Workout sessions range from five minutes to 25 minutes, with 20 being typical. The speedy workouts mean less time in the box, he adds. “Everyone is in and out of here within an hour.” Introductory sessions are also available for those new to exercise and fitness.
Payment is $185 a month, with no initial membership fee. During the month, people can come as often as they wish. Three to four times a week offers the best results.
“I am very encouraged by the response,” says Mr. Geurds, who also underscores the social aspect of CrossFit. “Once you get to know the people in the group, it becomes relationship-based. You push each other. And it can extend out of the box. People get together elsewhere, such as Girls Night Out, etc. But they have the common thread of CrossFit tying them together. We are a community and a coach, and that relationship grows.
“This is THE way to train,” he emphasizes. “I want more people to benefit from it. We are really like a sport, the sport of fitness.”
Classes are held Monday through Friday, from 5 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.; Saturday 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Exact times are available on the website or by phone. (609) 498-5221. www.crossfitnassau.com.