CrossFit | Health, Jan. 2012

Written by on January 1, 2012 in From this Issue | January 2012, Health - No comments

Back to Basics

CrossFit focuses on core strength and conditioning

HealthWhen you walk into CrossFit Carmel, leave your iPod behind. Between the clanging weights and shouts of encouragement from fellow members, you won’t be able to hear your music anyway.

CrossFit Carmel is one of several central Indiana CrossFit locations, each independently owned. Developed by Greg Glassman, CrossFit is a core strength and conditioning program that emphasizes high-intensity, functional movements. Workouts include Olympic-style weightlifting, body-weight lifting and moves reminiscent of gym class, like push-ups and pull-ups.

Though CrossFit is a favorite of police academies, martial artists and military special operations units, modifications can be made so that the movements are suitable for everyone –– from those just starting a fitness regimen to the most seasoned workout veteran.

You won’t find any perks at CrossFit Carmel, like swanky locker rooms or TVs. You won’t even find a treadmill or elliptical. That’s because CrossFit is not a pretty workout. It’s no-frills, and it’s tough. But participants keep coming back because it works.

CrossFit basics
Each class features a WOD, or Workout of the Day, just one example of CrossFit’s lingo. (Don’t call it a gym either. In CrossFit-speak, it’s a “box.”)

One workout, for example, might start by doing thrusters (a deep squat combined with a clean and press) for 15 seconds followed by 45 seconds of rest. Then you’ll head over to the pull-up bar and do as many pull-ups as you can for 15 seconds, followed again by 45 seconds of rest. Finally, you’ll do 15 seconds of “burpees,” a push-up/jumping-jack hybrid.

This continues for four more rounds.

“You have to will yourself to finish,” says Brenda Coleson, who owns CrossFit Carmel with her husband Lin.

Participants keep track of their reps, which adds a competitive twist, whether it’s personal or between two members, she says.

Newcomers learn the ropes at what’s called OnRamp classes, where they familiarize themselves with the equipment and movements. Trainers also work with them on their form. The Carmel location requires four OnRamp classes, says coach Caitlin Gray.

“A misconception is that you have to get in shape before coming,” she says. “That couldn’t be further from the truth.”

Diet plays a big role in achieving results with CrossFit. What’s recommended is a Paleolithic diet, which involves eating meat, vegetables, seeds and nuts, few fruits, little starch and no sugar.

“That kind of diet encourages building enough muscle, which is what you want,” Gray says. “It’s a very well-rounded diet. It supports high muscle and low fat. People ‘lean out’ very quickly.”

A welcome change
HealthCarmel resident Janey Schrock is no stranger to working out –– she’s competed in 12 triathlons. But when she felt like she had reached a plateau, she turned to CrossFit.

“I knew that if I was going to get better, I’d have to do something different,” she says.

Schrock attended her first CrossFit class last fall and quickly fell in love.

“I like that it’s really raw,” she explains. “It’s difficult, yet anybody can do it because there’s always modifications.

“It’s all up to you and your commitment, and your heart and tolerance for pain and suffering. I love being around people that have that same kind of thought and motivation.”

Schrock says CrossFit has helped her sleep better and drop five pounds. The back pain she occasionally felt has gone away. She feels lighter and has more energy.

“I know I’m stronger because I’ve already improved in my weights at the gym,” she adds.

Though she admits being skeptical at first, Schrock has altered her diet to follow CrossFit’s recommendations. Even her view of food has changed.

“I’m now eating for a different reason,” she says. “I need to eat certain foods to keep my body healthy for the workouts I want to do. It’s really been a lifestyle change for me.”

Schrock admits CrossFit can be intimidating for newcomers. But she advises taking the leap.

“You can’t always stay inside your comfort zone and get the results that you want,” she encourages. “At least you’re there and you’re getting yourself on the path to great fitness.”

Gray says members appreciate the small-group-training atmosphere that’s supportive and ego-free.

“Everybody’s getting stronger, faster, leaner and just generally healthier.”

For more information, including videos demonstrating CrossFit moves, log on To find a CrossFit location near you, log on and click on Affiliates.

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