With contributions by Alysha Webb-Pigg
Crossfit is a fitness trend that has been sweeping the nation. ESPN has even begun airing the Crossfit Games, an annual competition that pits the best crossfit athletes against one another as they seek to claim the title of being the fittest on Earth. To claim that title, however, you will need to start from the humblest of beginnings.
On a calm but crisp fall morning in Eugene, one of the first of what has been a relatively warm autumn, Eugene Daily News set out to find out the force behind this new, fast-paced, and physically demanding fitness trend. We visited two local crossfit gyms — Crossfit Revival and Crossfit Evviva.
Not knowing what to expect, Crossfit immediately made its mark on us as we experienced the routine that so many have raved about.
Crossfit Revival was the first stop. Located just off of River Avenue, Crossfit Revival’s gym is housed in a warehouse that gives it a unique feel from the big and crowded gyms that many people have become used to. The gym is comprised of three main sections: an entrance area with a couch, TV, and two offices, a weight room with dumbbell weights and a few benches, and an open space where the walls are decorated with pull-up bars, boxes, and inspirational quotes and numbers.
After a brief introduction and overview of previous skill sets, the experience quickly turned into a bundle of pure adrenalin, insanity, and community. The real action began after starting off with a brief warm-up. Combining cardio, strength training, and explosiveness, Crossfit workouts seek to keep everybody on their toes and develop a person into a well-rounded athlete. This one was no different. At the end of it all, with sweat dripping onto the mat, a feeling of accomplishment and community became present.
Not only were people cheering each other on as they pulled one another on a sled, they congratulated each other on the hard work they had done at such an early point in the day. Whereas professional athletes (such as those in football, baseball, and basketball) may develop skills particular to what is needed in their sport, Crossfit develops athletes who are physically in-tune to just about every aspect of fitness. Whether it be endurance training, sprinting, or strength training, Crossfit athletes are expected to be some of the best all-around machines in the health and fitness world.
Suzy Riedman, who has been with Crossfit Revival for around a year, is one of a number of coaches at the gym. Riedman talked about the driving force behind Crossfit after the tough workout. Riedman explained,
“The idea behind Crossfit is to expect the unexpected. One day might just be a running workout and the next you might be doing a lot of pull-ups or Olympic weightlifting.”
After first learning and experiencing Crossfit during her time in Kauai, Riedman came to Eugene and Crossfit Revival to continue her fitness career. She said,
“I’ve been a personal trainer for a long time. You have to get certified through Crossfit [to be a coach]. After that, you’re allowed to coach at any Crossfit gym and can get certified in more specialized fields.”
With specialized fields ranging from football to flexibility, there is certain to be a niche for just about anybody seeking one. If you are new to Crossfit and don’t have a particular field you wish to be training for, Riedman made sure to point out that the coaches are well trained to know exactly what people need to meet their goals. She explained,
“Usually we have new people come in and we scale the workouts. There’s always ways to make every movement easier, whether it is lighter weights or fewer reps. We’ll modify it to the way a person handles it.”
An educated coaching staff and physical workout is just part of the entire Crossfit experience, however. One other aspect of Crossfit Revival that really jumps out is the community of people and support that really changes the atmosphere of the entire gym. That is something Riedman is very proud to talk about:
“I think that [Crossfit] Revival, what’s made me like it most, is the people. That’s what brings people here and keeps them here. People are kind and encouraging and excited to see you grow. We’re all just getting better in our community. Here at Crossfit you get a great community and workout.”
The next crossfit stop was Crossfit Evviva. It was a crisp autumn morning and the streets of Downtown Eugene were vacant aside from a few tumbling leaves. These were still resting hours for some and working hours for others. But in a small shop with a miniature sign reading “Crossfit Evviva”, resting was the last thing on the minds of about 12 individuals who were busy preparing for one high-intensity workout.
CrossFit Evviva opened its doors at 960 Charnelton Street in Eugene, Oregon, in August of 2011. Its owners, Caitlin and Byron Gold, had previously owned a small gym called “The Box” in South Eugene. They opted for a location change a little over a year ago.
Initially, Crossfit was not the highlighted feature of this small community fitness center. It was cycling. Byron and Caitlin first started their CrossFit training on a small area consisting of about 6 mats. They have been expanding ever since. A floor that used to be covered in cycling bikes is now a full CrossFit training zone complete with climbing ropes, monkey bars, weights, and other fitness equipment.
The owners each have their own reason for being so fond of the CrossFit method. Byron says he loves that “health is the biggest priority” in the CrossFit program and that they are able to “use exercise to make people stronger mentally.” Additionally, Caitlyn says the “confidence boost” members get is one of the greatest benefits of the CrossFit program.
Rebecca Heckman, a 64-year-old member of CrossFit Evviva, says she could not do anything when first joining the gym after breaking her arm at age 63. A year later, she is climbing ropes. Heckman credits Byron for encouraging her to keep going when medical professionals said her range of motion would be permanently limited.
Additionally, Caitlin and Byron have been generous enough to offer scholarships for those in need who would like to actively participate in the classes at CrossFit Evviva. Caitlin says,
“No one should have to sacrifice health because of financial difficulties.”
Both owners agree that, as long as someone utilizes the membership, scholarships are worth giving out. The general ideology at CrossFit Evviva is that age and fitness experience do not matter. Check your ego at the door. This program is about mental toughness and encouraging one another. The owners feel that what makes the CrossFit environment different from a traditional gym is the personal interaction that causes members to push each other to their limits. Byron and Caitlin say,
“People could do these workouts at home. They come here to be pushed.”
Apparent from both of the Crossfit visits was the sense of community and encouragement that Crossfit can provide. Though the workouts are challenging, the support and camaraderie will push you through each and every workout as you get better every single day.