UO community pumped for CrossFit workouts
Michelle Wilson and her daughter were about to hit the water on a rafting trip near Roseburg last summer when she realized the oars were in the back of her husband’s car – which was fast leaving the parking lot.
Between Wilson and the car was a steep, 100-yard incline. There was a time when Wilson’s weight would have made this challenge insurmountable; instead, she charged up the hill without a second thought.
“I just took off running and I caught him in time,” said the 49-year-old Wilson, an office assistant at the Early Childhood CARES intervention program. “I went, ‘wow, this is what I need to be able to do in life.’ ”
The difference? A workout routine called CrossFit.
CrossFit is a commercial strength and conditioning program that is fast developing a following – across the nation, the world and definitely the UO campus.
Numerous faculty and staff have been bitten by the bug, training individually or in teams at CrossFit gyms in Eugene and Springfield.
CrossFit, Inc., is a fitness company founded by Greg Glassman in 2000, according to Wikipedia. There are currently about 3,400 CrossFit-affiliated gyms worldwide, most of them in the United States.
CrossFit, Inc., licenses its name to gyms for an annual fee and certifies trainers. Affiliates develop their own programming, pricing, and instructional methods, though most adhere closely to the recommendations of CrossFit headquarters.
The system’s workouts are varied and intense – think 20-minute, all-out routines that combine sprinting, rowing, jumping rope and weightlifting, for example.
Participants train at various levels – some seek only to shed the “muffin top” around the midriff while others aim to be the fittest CrossFit competitor on Earth. To that end, there is an international competition called the CrossFit Games.
Chantelle Russell, a 30-year-old assistant director for fitness in the Physical Education and Recreation Department, will compete at the Games’ regional level in May.
And 56-year-old Holly Arrow, an associate professor of psychology, is among the best in the world for her age group and will compete in the international Games this July in Carson, Calif.
Arrow had scarcely done a pull-up before CrossFit. Now she can do 100 in one workout – along with 100 each of push-ups, sit-ups and squats.
For a recent workout, Arrow did repeating sets of pull-ups and thrusting a 55-pound bar overhead; she notched more than 80 repetitions in seven minutes.
Arrow got into CrossFit because her doctor recommended weight-bearing exercises to defend against osteoporosis. Now, she’s turning back the clock.
“I am reverse-aging,” Arrow said. “I am getting younger, I am getting fitter, I may well be in the best shape of my life.
“I have six-pack abs,” she laughed. “I never had a six-pack before!”
Stan Hall, an instructional equipment manager for UO libraries, turned to CrossFit to preserve general health and address shoulder discomfort. He’s inspired by the program’s variety – pull-ups one moment, a quarter-mile sprint the next – and the constant encouragement of an instructor.
“There’s always a teaching element to every class,” Hall said. “We get instruction even if we’ve been through the movement hundreds of times.”
That personal instruction and a sense of community are important for CrossFit, because there is a “fear factor” for some who are considering this grueling workout for the first time.
Katie Moss, a 29-year-old digital metadata technician for UO libraries, said she almost cried the first time she tried a CrossFit workout; the warm-up felt like the entire routine, she said.
But the instructors “scale” workouts to each person’s ability. Moss has kept at CrossFit for more than a year, shedding 75 pounds and repeatedly notching new accomplishments.
“What has kept me going back is the community there,” Moss said. “It’s just going to see your friends – we all cheer each other on. They’re rooting for you and you’re rooting for them. It feels like family.”
-- by communications specialist Matt Cooper, UO Media Relations